A far-off clarity

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whirling suns resound
          engraved on the threshold,
flowers of immortal fire
          shake their sistra.
In a dark school you will overcome
          the colour of mortality
when a far-off clarity seems near.

Sally Purcell
Collected Poems, p228

Snow fell around us quickly and quietly today, creating picture postcard scenes of stillness and beauty – cause for deep gratitude in a world where graphic images and lived realities of unimaginable horror are now part and parcel of our ordinary, everyday lives, wherever in the world we are.

The late poet Sally Purcell looked forward in hope to a time when humankind “will overcome the colour of mortality …”, stirred from grave’s “dark school” (literal or metaphorical) and quickened, re-vivified, by warmth and music – shaken sistra – of “immortal fire”.

And we do well to celebrate signs of hope – contradicting hopelessness wheresoever we’re able. There have been other “picture postcard” scenes today too. Women voted for the first time in Saudi Arabia. 195 nations reached a historic agreement to work together anew in the urgent task of limiting dangerous global warming. Here in the UK tens of thousands turned out to support winter festivals in communities flooded just a week ago.

Hope and hope some more – until “a far-off clarity seems near”.

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