Sunday, October 23, 2011

I go among trees



Today I went to an exhibition of Joan Baker (http://www.joanbaker.co.uk/index.htm) and bought the painting shown here: 'Tree Wisdom'. It is of a place in Pembrokeshire, at the foot of a hill whose name is the 'Hill of Angels'.

I had found a new way to Ludlow (and the Silk Top Hat gallery), along the road from Droitwich, past Tenbury Wells where Shropshire, Hereford and Worcestershire meet. It is a beautiful road, winding, amongst diverse shaped hills, topped now with trees in autumnal glory and the villages you pass through have a wonderful cross-section of architectural styles in this place occupied for centuries.

I was listening to Delius - those quiet winding pieces of mood shifting, contemplated nature - as I drove along, these conspired with the shifting view to place my mind in the right place to view Joan's art.

It is an art of nature meditated upon and seen, and seen through. It is art that says that there is another world and it is both enfolded in and enfolds this one. It is an art of a transcendent unity that yet captures the world in its particulars.

I loved both painting and title - I always hanker for living amongst trees, and my favourite walk is to go amongst them and if that is coupled with coming to and from a water's edge, the walk is made doubly perfect!

It is resonant with one of my most beloved poems of Wendell Berry: one of his Sabbath poems:

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.

Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move. 

2 comments:

  1. What a beautiful poem! If only we could make Golgonooza. . .

    sheila

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  2. It is one of a series that Berry has written over the years on and out of the experience of Sunday's rest and reflection. Building Golgonooza begins, as Blake and Berry would attest, in clear seeing, 'rinsing the doors of perception' (as Blake wrote) which requires the immersion in fearless peace that is described so beautifully here.

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