Lose a Mind Gain a Mind

I’ve always liked Samuel Beckett’s line in Waiting For Godot: “We are all born mad. Some of us remain so”.

If you have not remained so, don’t despair. You can regain that lost grace.

Cue a pair of poems that link to this. They relate to the experience of spending waking nights in wild places where humans and human traces were very far away indeed.

The German language is renowned for its compound words, and these twinned poems refer to waldeinsamkeit and bergeinsamkeit: ‘the experience of being alone in the woods’ and ‘the experience of being alone on a mountain’ respectively.

The reference to Rilke in the forest poem is to his lines: “Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are still just able to endure, and it amazes us so, because it serenely disdains to destroy us”.

I have waited a while to distill heart and soul into this twin-set…hope they work for you.


The Mountain Top: Evening and Morning

Dry-grain rock springs the feet like cropped grass

until, with long final strides across bare boiler-plate slabs,

I am dipping my head

in the high mountain sky,

with fifty miles of elbow room

on either side to spare.

Darkness sumps horizon’s light

and invites me

to stay the night,

to drench my scalp

in small hours indigo,

cryptic counter-code

for day’s blazing blue.


Only silver meteor slashes remind me that things move:

constellations, galaxies and lone stars lure my sanity

to ecstatic edge.


Hold on, for morning.

Yet something was there,

heard in slithering scree,

seen in dark shadow-bulks,

scent of pine revealing

a scent not-of-pine,

animal fear on my tongue,

a sense of tense, stealthy touch

deep within, a pulse to each nerve-end

until silent atoms of light cluster,

then thicken into myriad layers,

reclaiming distance and detail.


Azure day’s dip

was potent, heady.

Violet night’s

was one rational gulp

from drowning.


The Forest: Evening and Morning

With dusk and with dawn the eye awakens

in moments about to come

or in moments just passed;

I was blind from the glare of the day

blind from the black of night.

Now, in both dwindling light and in coalescing light,

for the very first time,

treetops, underbrush brashings,

mosses and moulds and lichen hagbeards,

the hidden webmesh of tender roots,

light-seekers and shade-lovers, all twine

here, where no stories can be untold,

where a live presence alerts sense number six.

This Pollock-wired maze is not a place to go

because I have always been here

in the hour each day fades or comes,

when each heightened sense stirs

a simmered gut-cauldron of adrenalin:

Rilke’s beauty meets terror words

conjure an act of recognition –

once I too was without fear.


Even death may be allowed to live here,

where I return

this time to stay until it becomes fully dark

and fully light;

in twilight slight but carried sounds take over,

in daylight definition becomes too precise.

This is where dream and nightmare

can both be true, be simultaneous,

stand back to back against the unknown.


The mountain one is a re-working of a poem in Between Me and You (see posts from a couple of years ago).

Having begun with a Beckett quotation I will do the symmetry thing and end with one (from Malone Dies): “I pause to record that I feel in extraordinary form. Delirium perhaps”.

Ted x



  1. Lovely post!

    I want to re-read these later. I think they are best read whilst enjoying the stillness and tranquility of night time!
    Chris xx


  2. Beautiful twin-set. Evocative of that feeling of experiencing nature. I love that there are German words for experiencing woods/mountains alone! X


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s