Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a sweet inland murmur.*
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things. (verse 50)
And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man, (verse 100)
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye and ear, both what they half-create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, (verse 110)
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.
Wordsworth’s poem captures so well his contemplative joy at returning to a well known and beloved natural landscape and his communion with nature and with its transformative mystical welcoming sense of belonging.
This journey towards painting the subject of water has been in response to my own growing desire to find that place of connection beyond the noise and distractions that have kept my attention from staying more readily anchored on what’s true and life-giving.
Woodsworth’s reflections address some of the discordant experiences that present themselves to expose a sense of lack of meaning.
And this prayer I make,
Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; ’tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men, 130
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e’er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain winds be free
To blow against thee: and in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure, when thy mind (verse 140)
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; Oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations!
This latest painting has marked an effort on my part to introduce the sounds of water and to connect with these as a means to become more alert and attentive to Woodsworth’s “exhortations.”
As Woodsworth’s poem describes so well, this search for tender joys, harmony, sweet sounds and healing thoughts will make our “many years and their wanderings” more rewarding.
I will write soon to share updates on the evolution of my next painting.