The Leaves Are Showering Down

The leaves, having lost most of their green, are showering down in the breeze that, Autumnal-cold, sways the tops of the trees here where the well-trodden almost straight path leads up from the small sea-cliffs, across a narrow local road, and toward an ancient settlement abandoned so very long ago that only a few undulations and mounds remain on the summit of this hill.

Sufficient daylight now to sit on what remains of a fallen tree and type, on a wondrous modern device, such words as this, recalling as I do that

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. [1]

For there is certainly a reverence here, within me, as the trees – many far older than I – prepare for their Winter sleep and where a sense of aeonic continuity is felt then known: how many humans would have gathered three millennia ago on such a hill as this to mark – perhaps with bonfire, offerings to their gods, a wordless prayer – the ending of one earthly-season and the beginning of another?

Such continuity, such passing ages; such a knowing of how this hill, that sea, this land – how even many of the trees – will outlive me; combining to bring that perspective which, or so it seems to me, is the root of human humility, burgeoning forth as such humility has (at least according to my fallible understanding) in so many religions and spiritual ways millennia following millennia.

Prayer was – is – valid here. Whatever the gods, the goddesses, the god; however the numen was sensed to be so presenced:

ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν καὶ ὁ κόσμος δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω [2]

So I send this, these words: for there is life within me yet, despite various rumours to the contrary; a solitary life, as is my wish, devoted as it is now and will be, for however long it is gifted to remain, with a gentle desire to complete my translation of the Gospel of John: a meagre offering, an expiatory prayer born of an oath I bound myself with on learning of Francine’s untimely death ten years ago last May.

As for such rumours, whatever their source, whatever their intent, I am rather reminded of what Sophocles wrote more than two thousand years ago now:

τὸν ἐναγῆ φίλον μήποτ᾽ ἐν αἰτίᾳ σὺν ἀφανεῖ λόγῳ σ᾽ ἄτιμον βαλεῖν [3]

But, as the Sun begins to shed its light within the trees, cold hands and feet remind me to betake myself away to where books await such reading as marks another translating day.

David Myatt
November 5th, 2016

Extract from an e-mail to a friend
with footnotes added for publication


[1] TS Eliot, Little Gidding

[2] Κατά Ιωάννην, 1:10. “He who was of the world with the world presenced in him but whose own did not recognize him.”

[3] Oedipus Tyrannus, vv.655-6. “When a comrade is under oath, you should never accuse him because of unproved rumours and brand him as being without honour.”

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