Saturday, 28 March 2009
In Praise of Auden, tribes and thinking blue sky
Driving through the fens I spotted two mad march hares boxing in a field. I stop the car for a moment to watch. People used to think it was two male hares fighting but in fact it is a female fighting off the attentions of the male. Looking at these two, one isn’t playing hard to get, and both are giving as good as they get. Hares are in short supply these days, so two minutes just watching them is well spent. I was impressed by the way they could twist in mid air, jink and accelerate but they also made me sure that we are now running into spring. The roll call is almost complete; daffs in the traffic island on the way to the office, present and correct, magnolia tree in the garden opposite fatly in bud and teetering on opening, birds starting to watch Grand Designs to get ideas for this years nest, Easter eggs in the shops (although in truth they have been there since January), the sudden realisation that last years summer clothes may be a tad tight. It’s all downhill from here, we’ve broken the back of winter despite the rain, sleet, hail, biting wind, frost and occasional sighting of snow on high ground. All the sap is rising, it’s such an adolescent thing spring I may not be able to jink round the house but there is just a little more bounce in the step.
I am in the process of immersing myself in praise poems at the moment for a commission and thinking about landscape so I have read Auden’s In Praise of Limestone several times. It needs several readings and I still have no idea what it means and I feel gratified that many brighter than I don’t either but the last statement keeps going round in my head
.....but when I try to imagine a faultless love
Or the life to come, what I hear is the murmur
Of underground streams, what I see is a limestone landscape.
The other poems I found that just poured over me and left me basking in the joy and sheer mischief of the language were two Shona praise poems from Zimbabwe . Just read them and you may see what I mean. Of course I suppose something may be lost in translation but even so the words soar and sing.
Perhaps we don’t do enough praising, when times are hard perhaps a bit of heavy duty praising of all those things that make our lives richer might release more of those happy endorphins.
I am off to do some blue sky thinking on Monday on a training session, I think it means allowing yourself to think without limit, then again the natural extension of sky is space and we all know that in space no one can hear you scream. There may also be team bonding, if it involves crossing a small stream with only three oil drums, a piece of chewing gum and an elastic band at your disposal, I may get a tad grumpy. I may well implode if I get put in a team with the bloke from admin who has a middle ear problem and doesn’t do bending, the two women from the next floor who have taken moaning to an elevated art form and the man who likes to tell you about every fly he has ever tied (personally I think he doesn’t really fish he is just into a micro level of bondage). But we shall try to praise the fact that the lunch is free, the venue in a rural location where you can stare out of the window past the speaker's head and watch green field and trees and also that many others there will be thinking the same as I am, tribes find themselves where they can. Personally I think managing staff is always open to a few Basil Fawlty moments….I once had a boss when I worked in a bar years ago who had a touch of the Basil about him, he once barred a man for saying he didn’t like Pink Floyd and told a 5’ man he didn’t serve such small men as they effected the ambiance.