My all-in-all #poetry #poem

“For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days
And their glad animal movements all gone by)
To me was all in all.—I cannot paint
What then I was.”

– Wordsworth, ‘Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798

*** ***

The Lake District mountains began as the blue hills beyond
the limits of my childhood realm, the places
reachable by foot or bike

later the forms became numinous beings as we drove beneath
their nighttime bulk, a presence blacking out
the starlit sky.

One day I reached a summit with my Brownie troupe:
before, I’d been afraid to crest the slopes
screes could be slippery and deadly, so I’d heard.

Then came the time of adventure:
taking the clue from an abandoned railway bridge, I dared
to venture out beyond the limits of the known,

though timidly at first, and still afraid to leave the path
I walked in valleys, happily all day long
riding the bus from scene to happy scene.

Nature to me back then was all in all:
till alcohol encroached upon the threshold
of my womanhood, costing me mountains.

Still, the more I walked within the valleys, those wild heights
called out, I tried to mix the two:
the mountain heights, the depths of drunkenness.

And some time later found I could not walk
alone, having lost faith, self-confidence
and comfort in the company of one.

Then we left these hills behind for other hills,
higher still and deeper down the fall
into despondency and then salvation, still
these hills of youth remain
my all-in-all.

© Experimentsinfiction 2021, All Rights Reserved

Written for Earthweal

For this week’s challenge, Brendan has asked us to:

Remember a time when nature was bigger than anything else. Personify, magnify, glorify nature into this magnificent, maleficent more-than-human tenacity which we foolishly attempt to appropriate. How have natural forces shaped you?

I grew up close to the Lake District in the North of England, and its landscapes certainly shaped my mind, and fire my imagination still. The picture is of Honister Pass which links the valleys of Borrowdale and Lorton. Taken during a trip home last summer.

As for the form, it start off as free verse which became (almost) blank verse. A challenge for my clouded judgment at the moment, so apologies if it doesn’t read quite right.

28 thoughts on “My all-in-all #poetry #poem

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  1. A very evocative poem. I love the lake district, but if I stay in their valleys too long it does become oppressive. I much prefer being actually on the hills.

  2. I think our thirst for spirits grew out of a perception of spirit — we became aware of majesties and took to quicker liquor routes. Recovering from that thirst means finding a bigger grandeur, a slower and deeper one too — I’m grateful to the bad years for sharpening my perceptions thus, and to returning to those old mountains to find them more majestic than I dreamed. I’m parented by ancient, wild deep things. How far there is yet to travel into an all-in-all … B

  3. All in all, an engrossing youthful journey
    Of adventure through hills and dales
    Then dawdling across life’s ups and downs
    When you are haunted by the woman you’re not
    And now the mountains are alive with the sound of music

  4. Very poignant and beautifully told. Are our difficulties there to test us? Are they karmic? Do we grow from them? The Lakes are indeed astonishing, I can’t wait to return, hopefully soon. Landscapes can take us out of ourselves, or we can become them, merging subject and object. Mountains and hills are like friends giving us perspective; sometimes demons…

    1. All very true. I’ve just been talking with friends about this very subject of growing from difficulties. I don’t want to preach to anyone but I love Romans 8:36 on the same subject.

  5. It reads beautifully – a childhood in the Lakes District sounds enchanting. How wonderful. I love your closing lines, those mountains of your childhood your all-in-all. A wonderful read. Life is such an amazing journey.

  6. I love picture and poem, Ingrid, and the wonderful scent of freedom that accompanies them. What a place to grow up! I like the way the poem wanders the hills and vales, almost formless and completely free, and the Wordsworth quotation is the perfect companion. I enjoyed imagining the hills, both blue and a ‘nighttime bulk, a presence blacking out the starlit sky’. I bet you can’t wait to go home again.

  7. Ingrid, a beautiful poem about what the Lake Country hills and mountains mean to you. <3 There is such a paradise remembered for me in the mountains and waterfalls of The Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Nature inspires, consoles, and restores us. <3 Your forthright sharing of the trials and triumphs of your life is an encouragement to others. 🙂 All the best!

  8. A magnificent landscape–I can see where it would draw you in, and keep you still. Perhaps we become afraid to be so connected and use whatever our crutch is–alcohol, drugs, money, work–to keep us from being overwhelmed. Finding balance is a lifelong journey. (K)

    1. That’s a really interesting perspective and one I hadn’t really thought about m. I think you’re right, sometimes we feel too much. I find poetry is a much healthier outlet!

  9. I have only ever seen the Lake District on TV but it looks like a really compelling landscape that would imprint itself on your soul. Your poem conveys that idea beautifully.

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