Saturday, June 9, 2012

Castles And "The Fond Dream"

The castles that we construct in our minds our quite amazing, aren't they? Bright and inviting realms and dark and foreboding realms.  Either way, the building and the dismantling and the re-building never end.  I am reminded of a poem by C. H. Sisson.

       The Mind of Man

The mind of man is nothing but
A repertoire of what is not,
Never was, and can never be:
So, at least, it is with me.

C. H. Sisson, Antidotes (1991).

             Harold Speed, "The Alcantara, Toledo, By Moonlight" (1894)

What is one to do about this?  Perhaps nothing needs to be done.  I do not pretend to possess any wisdom on the matter.  I do know that the beguiling but false worlds of the media and advertising and entertainment and politics and social science try their best to convince us to be dissatisfied with ourselves, and to accede to their artificial visions of utopia.  But they all have an agenda, don't they?  And they know absolutely nothing about each of us as individual souls.  All I can come up with is this:  if we cannot help but construct castles, we should at least take care to construct our own.

       The Fond Dream

Here's the dream I love.
     Stay, old Sleep, allow me this
     Yet one moment, godlike bliss.
Here's the dream I love.

Tell us then that dream?
     O, it's nothing, nothing at all.
     But I was walking young and small
In a scene like a happy dream.

What especial scene?
     None especial:  pure blue sky,
     Cherry orchards a brook runs by,
And an old church crowns the scene.

Only that?  If so,
     All would be well; but, dreams have changed.
     Dreamers are banished, joys estranged.
I wake; it is not so.

Edmund Blunden, Poems of Many Years (1957).

                         Harold Birchall, "Reflections, Etruria Vale" (1949)


S R Plant said...

I experienced a jolt of recognition when looking at the Birchall painting; I was born and brought up a couple of miles from Etruria (in Stoke-on-Trent, England). Almost all of the bottle kilns such as the ones depicted have been lost due to the collapse of the local pottery industry. The air there is now clean, but I remember as a boy, when the industry was still in full swing, that so much smoke was belched out by the pottery factories (we called them “pot banks”) that it was often difficult to see across the road. A couple of bottle kilns can still be seen in the Gladstone Pottery Museum. From dominant industry to quaint museum in one generation...

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

Stephen ,

I find the first poem left me feeling a bit flat, but the second lifted me up again. Must be the reference to cherries of which I love and are in season now!
Interesing to see the painting with the bottle kilns; full of very dreamy pottery I am sure.

Stephen Pentz said...

S R Plant: thank you for that local connection -- very interesting. I have come across a number of 20th century English paintings of bottle kilns and potteries (both working and derelict). Not something that I am accustomed to see in the U.S.

As always, thank you for stopping by.

Stephen Pentz said...

Julie: thank you for the thoughts. As I mentioned in my reply to Mr Plant's comment, I'm not used to seeing bottle kilns and potteries over here, so they are intriguing. The only kilns that I have seen are small ones in the studios of artists, not these large-scale industrial ones.

Thanks for visiting.