And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

søndag 15. mai 2011

The Plenteous Ouse, pt. 2

When she's walking by the river and the railway line
She can still hear him whisper
Let's go down to the waterline
- Down to the Waterline, Dire Straits

He whispered "and a river lies
Between the dusk and dawning skies."
- The Anubis Gates, Tim Powers

To me there is something superbly and profoundly poetic about the reflection of the sun on water, especially when the sun is in descent or in ascent. The pictures below were taken in February when on my way back home I became aware of how magnificently beautiful the sunset glowed in the west. Sadly my camera is not of very high quality, and I have not yet familiarised myself fully with its sundry intricacies, so the photographs became rather blurry. Also, the camera rarely managed to reproduce the colours in their right shades, often rendering them more darker than what actually was the case, often substituting the blue tints with purple ones. However, although they are but imperfect replicas of reality, I trust that the colours and shades will prove pleasing to the eye and transmit at least a morsel of my feelings as I stood Lendal Bridge with the river reflecting the dying sun in a tender valediction.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark
- Crossing the Bar, Alfred Lord Tennyson

My pictures blacken in their frames
As night comes on
- Death of the Day, Walter Savage Landor

The Sunne that measures heauen all day long,
At night doth baite his steedes the Ocean waues emong.
- The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!
- The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe

Into that ominous tract which, all agree, 
Hides the Dark Tower. 
- Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, Robert Browning

As stated in my previous blogpost I did, to my own disappointment, not venture far down the Ouse. The bridge seen in some pictures below is a pedestrian bridge found at the end of Marygate, and a few hundred metres further down is a railway bridge. I was told there were forests down there, beyond the railway line, and it was a constant ambition of mine to explore the area, to seek out that forest and finally experience some British woodland which York, despite its many glories, is sorely lacking. The ambition remains, however, as it was never consummated. 

When she's walking by the river and the railway line
She can still hear him whisper
Let's go down to the waterline
- Down to the Waterline, Dire Straits

The swans of Britain are the property of the queen and it is therefore illegal to kill any of them. Despite this, or perhaps precisely because of this, the headlines of British newspaper for a short period presented the public with the killings of swans performed by a sniper. I do not recall what became the end of it, but I'm heartily glad the swan shooter did not decimate the swans of the Ouse. I passed them on several occasions and I took delight in their grace and beauty, features often augmented when compared to the more boisterous geese.

into waters, which receive him gently
and which, as though with reverence and joy,
draw back past him in streams on either side;
while, infintely silent and aware,
in his full majesty and ever more
indifferent, he condescends to glide.
- The Swan, Rainer Maria Rilke (transl. by Stephen Mitchell)

"I am all that is and was and shall be,
My garment may no man put by."
-The Swan, Jay MacPherson

The Swan, with arched neck
Between her white wings mantling proudly, rows
Her state with oary feet.
- Paradise Lost, John Milton

Yet another thing I regret. I imagine the boat trips on the Ouse to be a splendid way of getting to know York from a certain perspective, but I never got around to taking a trip. This must be done next time. 

The river rolls away in the night
- Single-handed Sailor, Dire Straits

Richard Burton claimed in his Anatomy of Melancholy that "all our geese are swans." How I wish that was true.

But I see what it is, you are not from these parts, you don't know what our twilights can do. Shall I tell you?
- Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett

 At last about the setting of the Sunne,
Him selfe out of the forest did he wynd
- The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser

(...) and twilight, with the patience of alchemy, almost transmutes despair into virtue.
- What the Twilight Says, Derek Walcott

The following pictures were taken on my return from London and I remember being extremely pleased to the see the calm and gentle Ouse again after the big city life of the capital. This was, of course, partly due to the fact that I was familiar with this stretch of the Ouse, but I've never been a city-boy and it was therefore a nice transition to be met by these swans on my return to York. 

The swan on still St. Mary's Lake
Float double, swan and shadow!
- Yarrow Unvisited, William Wordsworth

With that I saw two Swannes of goodly hewe, 
Come softly swimming downe along the Lee;
Two fairer Birds I yet did neuer see:
The snow which doth the top of Pindus strew,
Did neuer whiter shew
- Prothalamion, Edmund Spenser

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