Sunday, January 15, 2012

Skating On Thin Ice, Revisited

Edmund Blunden's exhortation to continue skating despite the darkness beneath us is echoed by A. S. J. Tessimond.  Tessimond's darkness is of a more psychological sort -- his life was not haunted by the horrors that Blunden experienced in the trenches -- but his advice bears consideration.

            Skaters' Waltz

'. . . So tempting to let freeze
   One's deepest, darkest pools
And learn to skim with ease
   Thin ice; for who but fools

Dive into who-knows-what?'
   'But if the ice by chance
Breaks?'  'But if not, if not?
   And how it glitters!  Dance!'

A. S. J. Tessimond, Selection (1958).

                 Andreas Schelfhout, "Skaters and a Horse-Sledge" (1857)

The topic of skating inevitably brings to mind (at this point I ask my younger readers to please bear with me) my favorite Jethro Tull song. (Owen Wilson's line from the movie Armageddon just popped into my head:  "I'll tell you one thing that really drives me nuts, is people that think that Jethro Tull is just a person in the band.")  The song is "Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day" (from the album War Child, which was released in -- ah, Time! -- 1974).  It was written, and is sung by, the inimitable Ian Anderson.  This is from the third verse:

And as you cross the circle line
The ice-wall creaks behind
You're a rabbit on the run.
And the silver splinters fly
In the corner of your eye
Shining in the setting sun.

                        Andreas Schelfhout, "Skating in Holland" (1846)

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