Photo by Gruescu Ovidiu on Unsplash
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.

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