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A Leaf Falls

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A Leaf Falls - Richard Jefferies Reimagined (#5)

Realising that spirit, recognising my own inner consciousness, the psyche, so clearly, I cannot understand time. It is eternity now. I am in the midst of it. It is about me in the sunshine; I am in it, as the butterfly floats in the light-laden air.

I’d already read the ‘Gamekeeper at Home’, but it was reading ‘The Story of My Heart’ - in my early teens - that profoundly influenced my way of thinking and outlook on life.

An epiphany of a kind which I share with Richard Jefferies and which in ‘Harmony’ (the opening piece to the 2013 Proms), Julian Anderson brings back the beauty of the moment.

Nothing has to come; it is now. Now is eternity; now is the immortal life. Here this moment, by this tumulus, on earth, now; I exist in it. The years, the centuries, the cycles are absolutely nothing; it is only a moment since this tumulus was raised; in a thousand years it will still be only a moment. To the soul there is no past and no future; all is and will be ever, in now.

 grass sways 
over ancient mounds
skylark sing

For artificial purposes time is mutually agreed on, but is really no such thing. The shadow goes on upon the dial, the index moves round upon the clock, and what is the difference? None whatever. If the clock had never been set going, what would have been the difference?

 sundial 
in shadow
timeless

There may be time for the clock, the clock may make time for itself; there is none for me 1.

I dip my hand in the brook and feel the stream; in an instant the particles of water which first touched me have floated yards down the current, my hand remains there. I take my hand away, and the flow–the time–of the brook does not exist to me. The great clock of the firmament, the sun and the stars, the crescent moon, the earth circling two thousand times, is no more to me than the flow of the brook when my hand is withdrawn; my soul has never been, and never can be, dipped in time. Time has never existed, and never will; it is a purely artificial arrangement. It is eternity now, it always was eternity, and always will be. By no possible means could I get into time if I tried. I am in eternity now and must there remain. Haste not, be at rest, this Now is eternity. Because the idea of time has left my mind–if ever it had any hold on it–to me the man interred in the tumulus is living now as I live. We are both in eternity.

 sunrise ... 
marking time
a leaf falls
————-

Extract from Richard Jefferies ‘The Story of my Heart’ (1883).

My Prose Nomination for Word Up - Bath Radio's first on-air Literature Festival 2

Artist Credit

The Chilterns over Fawley Bottom, Buckinghamshire Noel Gregory Baguley (1898–1980)

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Footnotes

  1. . This was the inspiration for ‘Harmony’ - the opening piece to the 2013 Proms by Julian Anderson, which draws lines from it.

    When we listen to music together in a concert, our normal sense of everyday, clock time is suspended and we enter the time of the music itself. So in writing a work such as Harmony, which celebrates eternity and timelessness, however briefly, in effect one is celebrating one of the special marvels of concert giving and of music itself. Julian Anderson

  2. .

    Bath Radio Connections Literature Festival Programme

    20th - 24th July 2020, 2 to 4pm

    The haiku are mine (written/reworked to complement this submission to ‘Word Up’).

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Sabishī
July 19, 2020 6:10 pm

As a student long ago I was taught that time moves at different speeds depending on how fast you are moving toward or away from Earth; we were being taught that time is relative, and from that point on I always questioned the concept of time, the hypothesis of time. Time may well be constant; our measurement of it may be relative. Or time is not real, just a figment of our imagination. I don’t think we really know, and I don’t think it matters whether we ‘know’ or not. All we know is the present moment, and that may be an illusion. Thanks for provoking these thoughts.

cathytea
July 19, 2020 6:21 pm

So lovely! I adore the painting, too. Something about flatness in landscape really appeals to me!

Ashley
July 19, 2020 6:42 pm

Clive, what a marvelous post! I have never read ‘The Story of my Heart’. Perhaps it is time that I should! PS. I’m missing the Proms already!

Ashley
July 20, 2020 12:27 pm
Reply to  Clive Bennett

Raw and naive sounds okay! I’m ready for it!

Deborah Vass
July 19, 2020 8:08 pm

I have been away this past week and all the time I found myself focusing on making the most of the time I had, having anticipated it for so long. It had, of course, the opposite effect and found these lines especially affecting and shall take heed from them. The haiku are beautiful.

Helen White
July 19, 2020 8:11 pm

Beautiful! Thank you.

Andrea Stephenson
July 20, 2020 2:27 pm

I love the way this ends with the leaf fall telling time, it speaks of the way of the world, the seasons of the world.

Jane
July 20, 2020 4:15 pm

That is a beautiful dialogue Clive, your haiku with Jeffries’ “no time” in the waters. I have an old copy of Story of my Heart which I first dipped into, in my teens (long long ago!) We were also very keen on Henry Williamson whose fictional hero Willy Maddison adored Jeffries. Hope you are enjoying a beautiful fresh green summer as we are amazingly, here in London. But I’ve just been on the Quantock hills again to visit my mother where it is radiant. Sky full of stars and tried to see the comet at 3.15 am, but it was obscured by south Wales city “borealis” as it is close to the horizon and just under the Bear. But my daughter in London saw it twice from her balcony. Faint but there! And for ourselves earthlings, aligned to the Pole Star at its close approach. Hope the dogs are all well.

Cynthia Reyes
July 28, 2020 4:23 am

Moving. And a wee bit haunting too. Not sure why.