August 2009

britten square

cerne abbas




Pound on the return of Ulysses to the dead:

The ocean flowing backward, came we then to the place
Aforesaid by Circe.
Here they did rites…
Dark blood flowed in the fosse,
Souls out of Erebus, cadaverous dead, of brides
Of youth and of the old who had borne much;
Soul stained with recent tears, girls tender,
Men many, mauled with broze lance heads,
Battle spoil, bearing yet dreory arms,
These many crowded about me
and then Tiresias Theban,
Holding his golden wand, knew me and spoke first:
“A second time? why? man of ill star,
Facing the sunless dead and this joyless region?
Stand from the fosse, leave me my bloody bever
For soothsay,”
And I stepped back,
And he strong with the blood, said then: “Odysseus
Shalt return through spiteful Neptune, over dark seas,
Lose all companions.”

and then Rilke on Eurydice, called unwilling up from death:

Being dead
Filled her beyond fulfillment. Like a fruit
suffused with its own mystery and sweetness
she was filled with her vast death, which was so new,
she could not understand that it had happened.
She had come into a new virginity
and was untouchable; her sex had closed
like a young flower at nightfall


She was already loosened like long hair,
poured out like fallen rain,
shared like a limitless supply.

She was already root.

Came back from two weeks up in Scotland and the Lakes to poignant decay in the house.


It was a powerful fortnight away.

Didn’t really want to go. I’ve been too busy. Too many things clawing at my attention. None of them really getting it.
But the Island always roots me somehow. Even though I didn’t do much practice – or perhaps because I didn’t do much practice.

I wondered around in the rain, looking at things. Exorcising ghosts, pulling up phantoms and laying them on the grass for the gulls to nosh. I sat very still at the water’s edge and enjoyed the suchness of things.

But I also made peace with images, thoughts, emotions. I realise that most of this ‘spiritual’ work has been a form of psychic anorexia. Starving thoughts and emotions out in favour of pure experience. What ever that might be.

Rob Nairn said something brilliant: ‘Loneliness is isolation from Self’. Not from others or the world but from the vast continent of the Self – which is rich and deep and utterly untranslatable.

James Hillman calls it the underworld. We live mostly in the overworld but the huge repository of energy and riches (Pluto is not accidentally God of the underworld and wealth) is in the depthless interior. Dreams access it. Images. But we must never bring the freight of the underworld up into the light. Like Eurydice, once it’s looked at squarely then in vanishes back into the dark.