Saturday, 1 March 2008

The Gleam

Part two of Nina's topic...

I am a dreamer. I always have been. Even in the midst of conversation I often drift into dialogue with my own ethereal whimsy while maintaining social grace. It takes little to distract me from everyday things, and if I get a whiff of The Gleam, then I am lost to it, beholden to its call.

I was about 15 when I first found an old copy of Tennyson's poems that had belonged to my father at college. A small red, cloth bound book, pages the colour of weak tea in very plain print. It is not a beautiful book to look at, it is very simple. But inside, o, the beauty and the song that leaps off every page... The first time I opened it, I flicked straight to the poem I knew - The Lady of Shalott, and thrilled to its melody. Even now a good 18 years since I first read that poem those opening stanzas still reveal The Gleam

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

The introduction to metaphor, the abililty to describe things so beautifully - "that clothe the wold" - that description is so perfect. It brings a vivid image to my eye instantly. It is why I love Tennyson.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

But the second stanza, the melody is the breeze, it darts forth and gently raises the hair on your arms such that you yourself are dusking and shivering by the river that flows to Camelot. I still am entranced by the beauty of this work, and have spent many a day hiding in some greenery or other looking up at blue or misty skies and feeling the wind tumble and play at my feet like a kitten as I drank it in. But once I had finished the LoS, I began to delve further into this slim book of poetry, and found still more works that enthralled and enraptured me. One of those was Merlin and The Gleam.

Obviously, from the title of this blog, The Gleam resonated with me. The mention of it throughout the poem teased me, called me to it, but those final words...

Launch your vessel,
And crowd your canvas,
And, ere it vanishes
Over the margin,
After it, follow it,
Follow The Gleam.

...I cannot describe how they inspire me. The passion in them - the absolute need I have to pursue The Gleam, La Vie Moins Ordinaire, whatever I name it. It is something greater calling me. I see it glimmering before me, sometimes I actually dance in its light. I can only describe it as this is why people believe in heaven. A glimpse of something so ascendant it must be of another world. But to me it is incredibly unholy as well - it is earthy, primal, primitive, pagan.

I see The Gleam sometimes in the purple haze of dawn, when I awake before I am fully conscious and see the smokiness on the horizon and know as the cool jovial music of twilight pervades my soul that I have a window to somewhere other. I smell it in the balsam of the forests when I run through the trees of my ancestral home and I chase it with eyes sparkling and amber. Some days I catch it, and it runs through my veins quick and golden and light and I hover in some space that is not quite of this world. I am almost always alone in my pursuit of The Gleam, I have tried to explain it to LH and lovely though he is, he does not see The Gleam. He is happy to follow me as I chase, but he doesn't quite see the gold that we're after. Others don't understand it at all, and it is the most precious thing that I possess so I don't share it often.

I can't make it come before me, things that one day will have me lost I will another barely notice. I possess only the ability to see The Gleam, not to bring it to me, or I would spend all of my time drunk with its beauty. It comes most often when I am lost in my imagination and dreams, though being around beautiful things always brings it closer. I am always on the search for great beauty. And in the meantime I dream and spin fancies and imagine - the castles in the sky where LH and our little pixies will live. I've asked him what he imagines our perfect home to be and he simply says that if I am there... then that is his perfect castle. I adore him for that, but I wish he knew of The Gleam.


Nina said...

Beautiful Jenn. You have such a magical way with words; for a moment I believed I could see the Gleam myself...

Melissa said...

I don't even know what to say to this. I feel like I'd spoil it.

You really are amazing.


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