This afternoon I went out for a Sunday walk. I haven’t done that for a few weeks as, in a uniquely Scottish way, the weather has either been too good to leave the garden or too bad to go out at all.
Today it was neither. The air was still to the point almost of ghostliness and the sky was not so much pregnant with rain as well past its expected date of confinement. But it stayed dry.
There is great walking round here for the casual participant and today I walked out alongside Dumbreck Marsh and then up and along the canal. And, as is my wont on such occasions, I selected music from the iPod to match my mood. Today that was Mahler. Melancholic, reflective and just slightly apprehensive about the future for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
It is of course High Summer and the wild flowers were in their full glory: banks and banks of long stemmed buttercups but other blooms of all possible colours and at one point, almost like a religious visitation, an isolated cluster of giant daisies standing out in their white spectrally against the verdant background.
The stillness and humidity meant that by the canal it was an insect paradise but also heralded a feast day for the swallows that swept over and among the water lilies. Where also swam ducks and ducklings and every mile or so pairs of swans with their now adolescent cygnets. Except at one point, where one pair of swans rested unaccompanied by offspring, one neck laid against the other, in acknowledgement, I feared, of the intervention of a fox or some other earlier tragedy.
See, I said I was in a melancholy mood.
When I came back, the threat of rain seemed to have receded somewhat and I started, at least, to write this blog in the garden, where the sun occasionally broke through the crowds and the small wind which had by now arisen, gently blew the bloom off my laburnum trees, carpeting the lawn in yellow.
But I’m not really in the mood for politics so I thought instead that in keeping with my mood I would write instead about a poem, one of my favourites, albeit with a somewhat tortuous title.
I’m a great Yeats man and this poem contains one of his most telling observations. “The innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time."
Both women featured in the poem had fascinating lives. Markiewicz was of course the first woman to be elected to the British Parliament while Gore-Booth was a pioneering feminist and as openly gay as anybody was allowed to be in the early part of the twentieth century. But Yeats’ subject was not their achievements but rather how politics ruined their lives by reason of the failure of the vision of society they had both earlier anticipated.
And I suppose my own thoughts on that, and advice to the many bright and endearing young people on both sides of the Independence debate, are just that. Don’t let politics ruin your lives. There are more important things.
Bid me light a match and blow.