A Reflection On The London Terror Attack
You are my first love, tossed by the sea of my soul. My blood has run with the timeless murmur of your rivers, and I have felt the stillness of your history stir a flame within me. You have fed with me your yawning silence that speaks volumes, your quiet concealment of your passion, your words of wisdom that strike through me and unlock the innermost chambers. You have birthed me, rubbed me raw, and caused me to gleam. Are you not still our mother across the tempest?
I dream, and the water sings to me, like tears flowing, for I miss you, like the lost part of myself I have never seen. And yet still I cry out, I am one of you! I feel the pulse of you alive in me, and I know I am your child. When you bleed, I bleed. When you are in pain, the knot of grief tightens in my stomach. The root is far too deep to ever be pulled out.
Your saints and scholars have carved your fame, your actors and orators have given you their voice, and the ghosts of the past mold you, and their breath still lingers on the fog. You have known heaven and hell, you have known the wild yearnings that drive humanity to the heights of glory and the depths of depravity. Yes, you have known them, and weathered them, and your cliffs stand tall against the waves.
You have plumbed the depths, and felt the cold water splashed in your face. You felt the stripes of agony, criss-crossed and martyr-crowned. You know the nature of tragedy as the blessing of renewal, and the nature of comedy to cut and clear the eyes of their fog. Your gravity has been matched by your wit, and the masks of your theater tell your tale.
You are the land of the painted people, and the paint runs in my veins. No one can measure the course of it. You are both tame and wild, breathless and panting hard. You have been hard-hewn in your ways, and in the paradox of living, an island set apart, silver-set in the sting of the star-light. You are like lichen on the ancient wall, like the stag’s cry at twilight, like the sun-shot stained-glass, colors bleeding everywhere. They stain me unto the bone.
So what do you mean to me in my heart? So many things it could break my heart. You are sometimes hard to love, eccentric, stubborn, impossible to understand, grounded in tangled roads and risen from a tangled constitution that was never written. You are imperturbable, rattling on with a lilting rhythm, and the world may think you speak nonsense. But in the end, your paradox is your profoundest truth, and the flecks of gold mark the courage in your well-worn eyes. And my God, do they shine in my young eyes too, sparks from the forge that leave your language upon my tongue?
What else do I love, that I have dreamed about, in some romantic dream? Rain coming down in the summer, and the brooding comfort of a cloudy sky. The way the fog falls over grass so green it burns the retina. Old books from authors who seem to take you by the hand and pull you into the vortex of their borderless worlds, and the warm, sweet taste of tea and good company. Music that is soft, yet strong, like the Evensong chanted, and then music that is strong yet vibrating, like the skirl of the chanter. It weaves through my sleep, the lyrics of the old songs are on my lips.
You remind me of Christmas, of carols with poetry so simple and tunes so haunting they could pierce the soul. You remind me of frost that crystallizes and the wildwood frozen in time, waiting for the thaw of spring, and the May ribbons strung upon the oak. My heart is made of such a tree, from which the shield of Arthur was carved and around which Robin Hood rallied his men. You remind me of the raven and the stag, of the symbols of power and struggles against it. You are the ink that ran at Runnymede with the passion of blood, and the grand doors slammed at Westminster’s in the royal messenger’s face.
You are thousands of forms and faces; you are swords cast into the lake and rosaries into the crowd. You are rebels and bandits, monarchs and plough boys, warriors and clergy; you are a rainbow of races, religions, and locations, bound together through by the ocean gale and an unspoken dream. You are contagious, and I have caught you. And I don’t ever want to let you go, your hidden warmth lightening flashing within a cloud.
This is merely a shadow of all that you are, but that does not make it any less authentic to those whose hearts encompass you. For are not dreams reflections of some eternal state, some deeper reality which we chase, and wounds us sore? You are an idea and ideal, a representation of community and common purpose and the deepest sort of love. You are simple, yet complex, wonderfully indescribable, forever socially-changing, conflict-ridden, always in the process of growing while holding fast to that which is most important in the seeds originally planted.
I love you most because you have been, and continue to be, much loved. Blood, sweat, and tears have been poured out for you, and so many wars have been waged upon your soil. You have known the taste of tyranny, and yet your rebel streak emerges strong beneath your reserved exterior. You are no paradise, but instead a constant battleground. And that it what causes it to draw in the casual student like a vacuum. There is something here to sink one’s teeth into. It is the treasure always being sought after; it is the evenstar always being reached for in the twilight of desiring.
The journey is just as important as the destination, and the destination is home, though I am so very far away. This is a state of the mind, of the heart, of the soul. This is the Britain that can never die nor be defeated.
September 27, 2018