Land of Lost Content?

st-hywyns-churchyard-aberdaron-bay

As some of you know, I am fond of poetry. The older I get, the more I think it almost the only thing outside of my Bible that’s worth reading. Yesterday, whiling away time I should have been doing something else with, I told Neo that I was overcome with a sort of melancholy – we have a word for that sort of feeling in Welsh, we call it ‘hiraeth’, and there’s a good article here about it and the context in which we Welsh feel it. I was brought up in the English-speaking part of Wales by a German father, so my Welshness is one of geography and feeling rather than one of language. Those great, grey, wild skies, framing the mountains stirs something in my blood, some deep ancestral memory on my mother’s side, all the more poignant and powerful because I never knew her. That speaks to something the English poet, A.E. Houseman wrote in what is perhaps his most famous poem, A Shropshire Lad where he writes with melancholic longing:

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

That captures it well. It has in it something of our primal deprivation of Eden, that sense we have of exile, mourning and weeping in a valley of tears which is not our real home – we have a feeling of dis-ease, of unease, of not belonging, of being out of place.

Much of our lives are spent in unconscious combat with that feeling, and sometimes, when we are not looking, it can break through our defences, and manifests itself in nostalgia for our childhood, or if that won’t give it to us, a lost golden age when things were better than they are now. For poets like Houseman or RS Thomas, these feelings were turned by the imagination into poetry which catches in distilled form a feeling which we find hard to describe, because there are moments when words will not convey what we have in our hearts. How can we speak of exile from Eden except with a catch in our throat?

One of my favourite poets, RS Thomas, a Welsh Anglican clergyman, wrote of this in his poetry, not least of the difficulty of the living in the present in Wales – and here’s a taste of his poetry – where he finishes by writing of ‘sick’ people’ worrying at the ‘carcase of an old song’. There’s a warning there of the sterile nature of too much nostalgia – we can inhabit a vanishing past, but it cannot nurture or feed us. We can only, as Thomas said, turn aside from these things and find life where it is truly to be found, which is where redemption is to be found – as in one man, Adam, all men fell, so in one man, Christ, will all rise again. Here’s a taste of that to finish with from Thomas:

 

 

Advertisements

About JessicaHof
Anglican Christian, evangelist, survivor, grateful

4 Responses to Land of Lost Content?

  1. Rob says:

    Ye Jess that captures the feeling – I also never knew my mother and maybe that feeling is also related.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Lost Land | nebraskaenergyobserver

  3. Pingback: The Lost Land, Going Home | nebraskaenergyobserver

  4. Jessica, YOU are such a profound writer! Keep at it dar’lin! 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

A Paradoxical Millennial

Somewhat-alternative thoughts on Society and Culture

SupportOurLefty

Totally unconditional support for Our Lefty, i.e. Me, friends.

From the Green Notebook

My thoughts on war, warfare, and leadership

Organized Lunacy

Inspiration and motivation for every life situation.

historyxpolitics

" God cannot alter the past, though Historians can. "

Doug's Scribbles and Ramblings

The incoherent ramblings of a working class white guy.

Charlie R. Claywell

Exploring How Being American Affects My World View.

joyfullyandperfectlyhis

My life as a daughter of the King

Journey Towards Easter

Discovering the beauty of truth

My Daily Musing

With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample our enemies. Psalms 109:13

beefandsweettea.wordpress.com/

a story of Southern agriculture

An Unlikely Wanderer

God will give to the soul a new understanding of God in God, the old human understanding being cast aside – and a new love of God in God. - St. John of the Cross

Think Defence

UK Defence Issues and the odd container or two

Anglicanicons

Writing in words and pictures

The Catechesis of Caroline

A Catholic woman blogging about life

Changing Skin and other stories

Creative Writing and unfinished business...

Omaha News & World Report

Local, National, & World News; Expert Reviews, Biased Commentary, Raw Polls, & Random Musings

Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Joanne Begiato Muses on History

Talking through my research

nebraskaenergyobserver

The view from the Anglosphere

The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Ye Olde Soapbox

News and Views, Stimulus for the masses

World History Blog

The view from the Anglosphere

Watcher of Weasels

Keeping an eye on the weasels of the world

Villainous Company

The view from the Anglosphere

Unedited Politics

Just Political Videos

Two Nerdy History Girls

The view from the Anglosphere

Thomas Sowell's Townhall.com Column

The view from the Anglosphere

Thin Pinstriped Line

The view from the Anglosphere

The Tree of Mamre

Politics, religion, and life. Unapologetically conservative, Christian, and iconoclastic.

The DXZone.com Amateur Radio Internet Guide

The view from the Anglosphere

The Daley Gator

If You're Left, You Just Ain't Right

%d bloggers like this: