In recent times, my once-frequent forays into the surrounding countryside, places of interest further afield and ‘Otherworlds’ have been severely curtailed on account of a number of circumstances beyond my power to control. This is a great shame, because I’d like to be able to travel around more, but there are far worse things in life, as tens of millions of my fellow human beings around the world know full well, sadly.
In my quieter moments, most often around the dead of night when Blueboy’s sleeping and I’m here in the subdued lighting of my study, surrounded by my collections of books, gargoyles and other curiosities, I’m often able to draw upon intensely pleasing images from the past, to exult in them and to be soothed by them in equal measure.
It’s surely obvious that everyone reading this has their own treasured store of memories, although perhaps I’m more fortunate than most with my powers of recall and occasionally experiencing lucid (and lurid) dreams; nonetheless, the more I see of the frenetic pace of exchanges on the internet, with vines, txts, tweets and attention spans that would put a goldfish on a par with a man like Stephen Hawking, for example, the more I genuinely wonder how many other people make use of the invaluable resource of memory and the rewarding exercise of reflection.
I’m coming to believe that these matters, like an increasing amount of others, are best expressed in verse, so to illustrate my case, I will invite you to consider Wordsworth’s sublime poem from 1807 I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud. I imagine that most people would be familiar with or at least recognise the opening verse, but the other three less well-known verses gradually build towards a revelation or realisation of the enormous joy that (enforced) solitary contemplation can bring:
“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”