1 No prophets, 15 April

Solitude recognises an arms-wide-open horizon
welcoming you as you are, without plan or prophecy,
not a prophet in sight or any other member of the species,

with no fake news, conspiracies, no voices in your head,
just the echoing hiss of sea clutching shingle and percussion
of waves slamming the southern jaw by the Women’s Cave.

No thought of the day ahead, or the day that was before
this day, a cool autumn morning smuggling childish
soles on an English pebble beach, and our four beaches

reverting, stripped of sand, growing rock, erecting pale cliffs.
Matthew Arnold on his honeymoon, stood by the window
with Victorian mutton-chop whiskers calling his wife over

as he listened to that incessant grating, a ‘melancholy,
long, withdrawing roar’. The ‘sea of faith’ no longer
keeping sin, sacrifice and salvation afloat.

‘Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.’

Matthew Arnold, ‘Dover Beach’ (1851)


(for Wyn as always)

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