Thursday, 11 February 2010

Gone to Earth

A passage taken from Gone to Earth by Mary Webb (1881-1927). Mary Webb poet, mystic, and lover of nature was born in Shropshire, the county where she spent most of her life and about which she wrote in all her novels.

Hazel expressed things she knew nothing of as a blackbird does. For, though she was young and fresh, she had her origin in the old, dark heart of earth, full of innumerable agonies, and in that heart she dwelt, and ever would, singing from its gloom as a bird sings in a yewtree. Her being was more full of echoes than the hearts of those that live further from the soil; and we as are all as full of echoes as a rocky wood - echoes of the past, reflex echoes of the future, and echoes of the soil (these last reverberating through our filmiest dreams, like the sound the of thunder in a blossoming orchard). The echoes are in us of great voices long gone hence, the unknown cries of huge beasts on the mountains; the sullen aims of creatures in the slime; the love-call of the bittern. We know too, echoes of things outside our ken - the thought that shapes itself in the bee's brain and becomes a waxen box of sweets; the tyranny of youth stirring in the womb; the crazy terror of small slaughtered beasts; the upward push of folded grass, and how the leaf feels in all its veins the cold rain; the ceremonial that passes yearly in the emerald temples of bud and calyx - we have walked those temples; we are the sacrifice on those alters. And the future floats on the current of our blood like a secret argosy. We hear the ideals of our descendants, like songs in the night long before our firstborn is begotten. We, in whom the pollen and the dust, sprouting grain and falling berry, the dark past and the dark future, cry and call - we ask, Who is this Singer that sends his voice through the dark forest, and inhabits us we ageless and immortal music, and sets the long echoes rolling forever more?