Wednesday, April 21, 2021

As... Dragonflies draw flame

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; 

As tumbled over rim in roundy wells

Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's 

Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; 

Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:

Dealts out that being indoors each one dwells; 

Selves- goes itself: myself it speaks and spells. 

Crying What I do is me: for that I came

Gerard Manley Hopkins - As Kingfishers Catch Fire

In days past we were more familiar with the thrum of the natural world around us. Reading older poets their words are alive with their observations and their precise references to the natural world around and the wonder and richness of our earth. 

My children have a language of computer games that they apply to Real Life- 'camping' is to wait in place in order to attack someone when they reappear in game. (Confusing when the kids use it in reference to our dog versus cat drama, someone blinking their eyes rapidly is 'glitching' and their are multiple others. 

The computer language entertains me - but I wish they also knew more of the language of the living world. 

Studying more closely the world of the mini-beasts as it unfolds parallel and inter-dependent with our own, it strikes me how wilfully blind I have been until the present. The world of the small things is so vast, varied, busy and brutal. I watch the bees buzzing in the lemon blossom, and note their furry abdomens. I study the abundance of small pale moths in the early morning grass and see how at rest they hide beneath a leaf. A spider notes my approach and draws it's legs together so it resembles more nearly a stick. 

At present it is the dragonflies that most interest me. Their sun-gleaming translucent wings are so clearly the basis for fairy wings. And yet their faces are so unsettling. Most alien faces in movies and pictures seem based on some variety of bug. My husband says it makes sense; bugs are the most populous things on earth - obviously their features are ones that survive. 

I wonder how they perceive the world through their bulging eyes. I've read somewhere they perceive ultra-violet light - how would our faces appear to them? 

My great grandfather told stories of a golden Beatle that would appear beside children, and shrink them to his own size, to take them adventuring on his back in a world seen afresh and made giant-sized. 

I find myself increasingly re-imagining these long ago child-adventures, and seeing anew the wonder in the world.  


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