Uncannily, all I can hear
is the gentle ‘shwersh’ of my tyres
as I pedal luxuriously,
with the wind at my back,
the long straight fenny drove
that stretches into unseeable infinity.
Suddenly, the distant trees
fall away to reveal
a cathedral’s tower, way, way, way away.
I pause to try and imagine
the puzzlement of ancients
watching this edifice
above the forbears of my trees.
Only an adventurer’s tale,
or the proud assertion of a wandering divine,
can reveal the story
of this Goliath,
towering above mud and wattle hovels.
‘Tis the great Prince-Bishop’s seat of power’,
proclaims the adventurer, ‘And I have been there’
‘Tis the City of God atop the fens’,
sings the divine, ‘And I will be there’.
But for me, it is time to turn
into an unexpectedly hostile wind,
which would make me late for my next engagement,
as I head frantically away from
the age-old symbol
of the still presence of the Eternal One,
into the din of my little world.
From last week’s post starting in plains of Arabia, I come sharply home to the Cambridgeshire Fens. Last night we were present at an excellent concert by The Hilliard Ensemble with Jan Garbarak in the magnificent Cathedral at Ely. Sitting listening, I marvelled at how the columns of air reverberated around the huge stone columns of the Cathedral and its walls – to produce quite exquisite sounds from the two tenors, counter-tenor and baritone, woven together with the amazing improvisations of Jan Garbarak on the saxophone. Other than while the sax was playing, the sound might have been similar to that of monks in centuries gone by – who knows? If it was, I guess the pilgrims and residents of Ely got a similar thrill from the choral music in those long past days.
And those stone columns must have been almost beyond belief to anyone living in tiny hovels in the Fens as they saw the Cathedral rise into the sky from miles away.
We live eight miles from Ely and along one of the droves – long, flat, straight paths where livestock were driven to market in times past - I was cycling …
and these thoughts came to me.
(Regular visitors to the blog will recognize, in the second lineof the poem that follows, a reiteration of the theme in ‘Sounds’ which you can access HERE)