BEGINNING

This is a short and partial account of my life, and includes poems that go with the relevant stages. Before I started it, I hadn’t been thinking of writing about myself. I meant to write only poems, carefully depersonalized – no ‘I’– condensing object and sensation in small nodes of experience: an attempt to balance creativity and detachment that I thought suited to my age. Instead, I’ve discovered I want to speak in my own voice about what has been important to me, and how I’ve lived out my ideas, at times obsessions.

The first, strongest and most lasting of these is my attachment to Earth, this planet earth we live on. Continue reading

MY EARTH MYTH

‘Earth’ is feminine in all the languages I know, and the deities of earth are goddesses. Earth, water, moon are goddesses, while air, fire, sun are gods, though there are exceptions, aspects of fire which are feminine, rain which is male when it fecundates earth. And for the Tibetans the sun is a goddess. Probably my identification of sun and sky above as male and the earth beneath as female stems from the Mediterranean tradition. Continue reading

LOS RASTROJOS

For many years I was content to rent the houses we lived in, either near or in the city of Mérida, but early on we decided it would be good to have a place of our own in the mountains – wild mountains where it was easy to leave all trace of modern life behind – for holidays and as a ‘refuge’. I liked to drive in my jeep to remote districts and one day I met on the road (he stopped me to ask for matches) a man who wanted to sell a big property, more than five hundred hectares, at the end of a distant valley he pointed to. None of his family wanted to be peasants any longer; this was happening all through the area. Continue reading

PARADISE UNREACHABLE

My connection to Los Rastrojos and the mountains round it held the place of an absorbing love in my life for many years. I was sometimes lonely for human intimacy, but if love is a correspondence between an external presence and one’s own nature, it was that place that I loved most and that kept me company best. Los Rastrojos and Ravi, the long-haired German shepherd that was my closest companion for eleven years, his whole life. Continue reading

JOURNEYS

Once when I was a student in New Zealand a friend asked me what were my ambitions for my life. (I don’t know why I should remember the occasion in particular – we asked each other this kind of question often.) I answered with great conviction: to have a great love affair, write a great book and travel all over the world. The friend remarked that traveling was probably the easiest of the three. She was right. I haven’t achieved the great love affair or the great book, but I have traveled far and often. Continue reading

SACRED PLACES

My later journeys gradually took on the character of pilgrimages. I was always interested in landscapes, arts, food, and in talking to people, I never identified myself to others as a pilgrim, but I chose my routes so I could visit and spend time in sacred places. I hope ‘sacred’ as a word still has meaning for most people. I don’t like the word ‘religion’, or ‘religious’, and I don’t like ‘spiritual’, with all its New Age connotations, though it will be impossible to write about my attraction to these sites and what they convey without using these terms. Sacred places, their energies which often come from particular configurations of the earth itself, Continue reading

POETRY AS EARTH LANGUAGE

In words the language of the gods’ presence is poetry, which substantiates them in rhythm and images bound by strong feeling for their persons – usually longing, though horror or anger will do as well. God can be a traitor to believers.

Poetry is the language of ancient connections, not only to the gods who are distillations of our experience of life on earth, but directly to the earth itself. Continue reading

THE END IN SIGHT

My sister Beatrice, who died of cancer just after her fortieth birthday, was a cosmologist obsessed with her high-level work. She once told me she felt she’d become a special animal that couldn’t live far from the limited sources of its diet. Also that she belonged to a gregarious species of which there were very few specimens left. I was not one of them, though we were deeply attached to each other and I have missed her now for thirty years. As far as diet is concerned I’m not like her; my nourishment has come from a wide variety of contacts. Continue reading