Above the storm Sheer through the storm into the sun the plane Shot, streaming silver from its wings; And he who'd won through volleys of blind rain And baffling smother of dense cloud To heights of rare And eager air, Keen-edged as icy wine, Where only man's heart sings In the celestial hyaline, Where only man's heart sings, adoring, Beyond the range even of the eagle's soaring - He, who braved the tempest's rage and roaring, Sang out above the loud Propeller's whirring As in the crystal light Above the cursed white Of billowy snows He rose Even to his own heart's height; And happily in flashing flight He soared and swooped And zoomed and looped With ease unerring Through the unsearchable inane In dizzy circles of insane And death-defying insolence Of youth's delight Above the sunny dense And seething cloud whereunder Still rolled the thunder Over an earth already drowned in night. He soared and swooped again, Exulting in the flawless enginery Of hand and brain That, even in the heady urgency And wildest flight Of his insatiable soul, Obeying his intrepid will, Still kept serene control Of his frail plane That hung Ever on peril's edge and swung In thin and scarce-sustaining air As by a single hair, When one missed heart-beat or untaken breath Might lunge him in a fiery plunge to death. And still in aerial ecstasy, A flittering midge in the infinity Of heaven, he revelled till the light Drained even from that celestial height, And through the icy beryl of the night Star after star dawned silverly. Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, 1878-1962 of Hexham, Northumberland
Another startlingly beautiful Autumn morning walk during which Wilfrid Gibson’s ‘Above the Storm’ has echoed in me. A friend, at the village’s Remembering, later, said: ‘and so to the turning of the year.’ And it is heartening, touching, to see youngest and oldest standing, contemplating, remembering here. Yes, in so many more ways than one, ‘the turning of the year.’
And Nature, in this turning, calms and steadies both our remembering and our hoping. Walking homewards each morning I marvel at the bedrock of the Pennine Ridge – the ‘spine’ of the United Kingdom. Sometimes warmed by illuminating sunlight, sometimes dark and brooding; today, it seems – like cosseted, dust-covered furniture in a stately home – softly covered with a duvet of fluffy cloud – sustaining, watering and warming. Yes, ‘he rose / Even to his own heart’s height.‘
And remembering, and hoping, is thankful.