The Cycles of Life and Death
Yesterday I went for a walk in the early morning wood-shining glades of Eccleshall in Sheffield. The sun-dappled Bluebells were just coming into flower creating that blue mistiness the area is famous for. Every year these flower-topped stems poke up through the leaf mold and woody detritus. The cycles of life; spring and summer awakening from their deathly twins – autumn and winter. Dylan Thomas calls it ‘The Force that through the green fuse drives the flower’, he goes on in the poem to say that the same force drives his ‘green age’. I will be fifty-five on the Sixth of May and on Friday I have surgery to correct my Hyperparathyroidism; a condition that causes me to have too much calcium in my blood and gives rise to the many symptoms that have dogged me over the last couple of years.
I have experienced what Dylan characteristically refers to when he says ‘and I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind how time has ticked a heaven round the stars’. His dumbness is redolent with enigmatic phrases. Endless commentary and interpretation still leaves me with a degree of opacity only solved by the rhythm and spell of his lines that take me into feelings rather than thoughts. I feel that I am that conduit, like the stem of the bluebell that draws nourishment and life up to the ringing blueness announcing a new season. But that stem grows out of last year’s death. I am older now and have felt what it is like to have a long-term illness that robs you of the full joy of life. I also know mine is only a shadow of what some go through, but still it has been a debilitating season.
Yeats says towards the end of ‘The Song Of Wandering Angus’:
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
She is the woman he loved, the muse he served, the green fuse, and he speaks now of the older man’s search for creativity, the fruit that comes from the moon and the sun, from life and death. I want to go through this surgery with a willingness to surrender to the great cycles and the hope that my recovery will reflect the lovely spring bursting out all around me.