In the Kawarthas Thinking of the Lake Poets Strung Out on Opium, Words and the View
Sure, Coleridge was a Wordsworth fanboy, but I always thought him the better scribe.
Taking that albatross of opium dreams as far as bad teeth were willing to chatter. And Southey sliding into third although Bryon claimed him thrown out by establishment leanings. Both Lambs lead to slaughter and De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater which must have made Samuel Taylor want to race Kubla Khan straight to the bottom of the laudanum bottle. Addiction in popular literature and not just for it. And here I am beside wifey’s warm jam jams. In the Kawarthas, thinking of the Lake Poets strung out on opium, words and the view. How the Edinburgh Review coined the term trying to slander a little drummer boy out of his only percussion. But the name stuck, as such things often do and who remembers anything about the critic now? That’s what I adore about this guttural bullfrog of a cosmos. How the hodge of the podge never clamps down on salty bitters. Beside this fire reinvented, on the water and off the clock. Heavy gangplank eyes uncorking another bottle. Leaning back in twin Adirondacks wishing the loon out of every asylum. The howl of distant wolves across this long unanswered wilderness.
Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Borderless Journal, GloMag, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.
PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL
Can a patch of foreign sky and Earth speak to you in the manner it earlier did to the lost tribes guided by the bright stars, suns and moons?
The way it spoke to the early Greeks or the Vedic-era folks — among other pre-industrial cultures — that created marvelous odes, arts and regions that still appeal to a new-millennial audience hooked to gadgets as their reality?
A Homer that continues to inspire!
The trance where natural elements convey profound truths; enabling the viewer to recover a lost innocence and old mode of perception.
Could such a luminous past be re-lived?
Could it recur?
Here is the how of this communion.
In Canada, escaping colours is impossible.
In Mumbai, finding colours, impossible.
The contrast shocks. Toronto is dressed up in multi-splendoured gown.
You are participating in a romantic landscape.
October morning. We walk down along a trail in the heart of a busy neighbourhood.
The sky is dotted with daubs of grey and white against the brilliant blue— reminiscent of a Monet.
In countries like Canada, to a large extent, you enjoy the sensory wealth and free interaction with the dales and meadows and lakes…and trails that make you discover surprises after a sudden bend, a leafless tree; ducks in a pond; the luxuriant trees and shrubs, and, a protean sky; journeys that make you negotiate not only the turns and twists of solitary pathways, the physics of the urban planning but also, the metaphysics of space by diving into the inner self; the internal landscape, on clear, crisp mornings or even dim nights, getting luminous, transmitting silent codes to an awakened self — glued into an ancient map.
Nature is your new interlocutor, releasing routes, inner and outer, with a switch of a button.
Nature in Canada makes a compact with the sensitive seeker; it changes the viewer into an artist, a co-creator of the aesthetics of colours, spaces and patterns!
The dialectics of nature and praxis operates — a walker stops and takes selfies against a tree in bloom or against a pond full of ducks, as mementos.
Such moments of serenity are rarely found in Mumbai or Karachi or any other stifling mass city.
Oddly I hear Wordsworth humming in a glen off the Highway 50.
It is a collage curated by an invisible force. The air is pure. The solitude borders on the spiritual.
The background is fascinating: Electric scarlets. Grays. Oranges. Reds. Yellows. The trail takes you deep inside self. The internal calmness is matched by an external silence.
The magnificence induces a reverie.
The elements merge seamlessly into a heightened consciousness, an extraordinarily lived experience.
A Joycean epiphany! All staged within a moment.
A hungry mind absorbs the altering spectrum. The sky transmits a message that folks like Paul Coelho decode for a mind craving for another dimension of a drab one-dimensional existence.
It is a strikingly different reality.
Nature — enabling philosophy.
You are aware of its presence.
In developing nations, it is the absence that is hardly missed. You are stuck in a development-dystopia there. In such locations, citizens have to fight against the degradation of nature through liberal media, courts and advocacy groups, on the broad themes of having the right to breath easy, clean air and inhabit liveable cities. Yet walls of indifference keep on rising and cases of mangroves being destroyed, hills plundered, trees hacked, in the name of urban development and growth, under the patronage of corrupt bureaucracy and political class, go unreported, thus leaving honest taxpayers only layers of smog, pollution and bronchial diseases that reduce productivity…and creativity. Trapped inside a dull and deadening grind of a daily routine of long commutes in overcrowded public transport and hours hunched over small screens in airless cubicles, the professionals are reduced to nothing but robots, androids, cut-off from their scorched Earth and a dark sky, self-enclosed atoms, unaware of the romance of a full moon in a wintery sky or the power of a red rising sun, giving hope to the millions of workers…
Back in the trail, thoughts rush out and form into whole units of novel poetics, symbols and artistic meanings.
A kind of radicalisation has been executed by a natural scene carefully preserved by the civilly conscious fathers of a huge land worked on by immigrants and other settlers.
In the sky, I see messages and patterns that take me back to the happier times of the concord between humans and nature, now disrupted.
The colours of fall are staggering in range, impact and variety.
You have become a part of a dynamic natural landscape—and feel elevated!
And feel privileged to be a witness to the preserved bounty of Mother Nature here in Canada, much better than in India.
You breathe easy.
Oxygen hits the lungs directly — not the smog that produces cough and cold.
No noise — refreshing from the mad cacophony of the noisy overcrowded unplanned ungovernable cities of Asia.
People are distant but polite. Fellow nature enthusiasts. The pagans of the post-industrial society, trying to reclaim a bit of humanism and nature, for forging a newer human being full of empathy in a peaceful country.
“Hi!” I say to the passerby.
“Hi! How are you?” answers the tall man.
“Fine! Thanks.” I answer…and move on.
A significant human exchange unfolds, gets executed by a cultural consensus — and the colours of white and brown intermingle in that common gesture of politeness and affirmation, thus confirming the redness of bloodstream of the diverse species of a planet threatened by climate change, ethnic strife, racism and alt-right forces that immediately do the “othering” of the groups not found matching their own.
As we walk away, composed and tranquil, enjoying the cool sun and fragrance in the air, few steps away from the neat bungalows on winding streets, the epiphany strikes, like a gentle rain in the moorland:
No land is bad. Or its hard-working honest lawful people. What is bad is the corrupt and cynical ruling elite that places it above the people. If they do not pay heed, refuse to listen to the rumble on the ground, popular change will follow soon.
Headed home, I realise home is a mobile space, a social unit of a shared collective of similar aspirations and dreams. You keep on searching for an ideal place where dreams and realities coexist as realizable values and make you evolve into a dignified, creative citizen — the main goal of a full and functional democracy anywhere.
Perhaps, that is the main drive for migration, internal or external, for welcoming areas and countries, globally.
Returning, I find I am at home, in Canada, at last. A place where colours of the Earth and sky meet, fuse together to produce newer styles of wholesome aesthetics of meaningful, integrated living, in cosmopolitan setting, with shared systems of beliefs.
The colours of Canada do speak to a harmonious mind.
Canada is a live canvas for sentient beings. You are an element of a dynamic complex of co-existing patterns, producing wholesome meanings!
Thus, you become real and alive, in an animated environment, organic but not yet fully and cynically degraded, unlike in other more commercialised nations.
Sunil Sharma, is a Toronto-based academic, critic, literary editor and author with 23 published books. His poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, in the year 2015. Sunil edits the English section of the monthly bilingual journal Setu published from Pittsburgh, USA: — https://www.setumag.com/p/setu-home.html For more details, please visit the link:— http://www.drsunilsharma.blogspot.in/
PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.