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The Heart Opened Up


This set of work is inspired by the William Wordsworth poem 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798'

In this instance, I took the form of his poem and applied it to my own situation whilst in Covid-cough-cough lockdown. It began around the end of March and ended in August.  

I rewrote the poem, keeping in the spirit of its core messages; the messages I took from his words anyway. The connection to nature, to the earth and the senses.

Lockdown brought me both closer to nature and my spirit yet also more physically distanced. It engaged thoughts of my past in a way I had not previously recollected. It generated questions and affirmations for my future. It made me present. 

The full version of the poem can be found below.

All are varnished acrylic and oil on cotton canvas.

2020: About Us
Part One: It Began To Open
Part One: It Began To Open
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Part Two: Speaking from the Heart
Part Two: Speaking from the Heart
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Part Three: To my Ear [1/2]
Part Three: To my Ear [1/2]
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Part Three: To my Ear [2/2]
Part Three: To my Ear [2/2]
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Part Four: Touch [1/2]
Part Four: Touch [1/2]
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Part 4: Touch [2/2]
Part 4: Touch [2/2]
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I was alone in my skin and then my skin found its natural calling
I was alone in my skin and then my skin found its natural calling
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2020: Gallery


Part One: It Began To Open

The spring, it past; blossom sunk, with depth

Of that long winter! and yet here

Isolated ponds; foaming with fresh paddle

The soft commentary of new eyes.—Once upon a time

Locked up minds beheld their nature

That on empty streets with swaying buds

Dreams could kindle in once tired trails; and linger

The sky flush with birdsong unimpaired 

The day alert as it asks to paint dormant cotton

There, virulent oak whose leaves I never did touch

The heart sees further than the head

Passing allotments of indulged earth, green tufts,

Where man is connected, reaping the sown,

Are alight with faces speckled crimson, lost in work.

‘Early fruit and bark. Once gazed at

Weathered huts, how now is such a seat, isolated

Splintered as it is familiar: old homes the new,

Earth toiled to the hatch; hammock tied with ivy

Away am I, without embrace, on the coiled path!

Dined on a takeaway menu, as stomach feels

Of a populace that perched, pitched and plumped,

Or of some dream from a cave, here is my fire

The heart burst with you.

Part Two: I See You Now

                                Tangerine peeled sunsets

On horizons do rainbows splinter, not known to me

It is a vista to which I was ignorant but kind:

How so, from a door to a door, via four wheels or track

From town to city, and realised my heart beat fast,

In the din of work, heavy to mind, salt to a heart,

Longed for a time of rest, find the heart no further test.

From a state of unease at communal pause

Those shards of torn flyers:—littered from walls

Of what would never - but, could - have been: adventure too

As one tantalises unexplored pleasure

How a heart can regret missing morning light,

A seed, evergreen, raw to its roots, loyal to one bulb

To light lit with birdsong. Also sunshine, also rain,

For eyes that look down be them clouds with gifts,

Horse print marks the time; soft earth to print,

In which a journey was no sojourn,

It was no transient moment to pass Go by the whistle

All uncharted waters were mapped, 

Passed overhead:—those mythical krakens old news,

Passed like freckles in leaves in autumn,—

Yet, those splinters formed an order

That thud it began to wander about pace

That speed, must it now present a break

To be tape, become the permanent plaster:

Lungs sudden attention to voice and reason

Of listening, that greatest test to ear,

To hear, be silent and still to it all. 

Part Three: To my Ear

                                        What if

To listen, be present and awake —

To it all, to myself in a room of yesterday’s trend

Of those lingering arguments; ego hurt over morning tea

Unhelpful, the medicine of the tale,

Here ringing in my mind a bell to no hour—

Tell me, in presence, words that have known me,

Of utopian stillness! thou heard your toll

        Tell me how often have I needed you to know me!

    And here, with notes of unfinished songs the new normal,

Recommendations peeling like cheap paint,

Twitching to a thought that wasn’t right, 

The spruce livens my drink to refresh my mind:

Sitting here in my unit, flush with seasonal colour

Of surrounding canticle, ears so kindly aware

Here rising a smile with the dawn and the sunset

For this normal. And it is my superpower

That I will listen, in the family way, Mother’s ear

I heard summertime lemonade; youth’s summer

I ran over brooks, swung across steams

Of fields beyond suburbia, peeling fields,

Wherever a new style led: my inner child

Smiled at nettles smite and the abducted sole’s dogshite

I heard the laughter I sought. For charms were

[How my days were full of ignorant adventure

But how those days were full of velvet colour]

Abound with opening doors.—I can recount

The boy I was. My fear at what constituted a man

Bugged me like rose buds; my window pain

The slope down my acre and the countless curbs

That game invented with spirit, was to me

Adventure; ephemeral love,

That will forever be coloured in midsummer,

By no administered rain, nor grandparent passing cloud

Unmerited tears for the eyes.—That summer must past

And how I laughed, must I now not fast;

My inner raconteur must seek the new. For, no

I cannot, will not; my soul remains

Alive here: for what, sometimes i do not know,

Constant compensation. Yet my senses refreshed

To inhale the air of the morning, to flow in tune

At one again; conspicuously alert

Frustration at collective response; pride in belonging

The feeling of souls desiring a sole trodden outside

Never to me a worry, I pride on the venture

To breathe in anew.—And yet stared

To that far off peak and eye where I blinked first

Of respect we have not collectively given

Of individual vulnerability and disconnection,

Here is my home yet there is my calling,

And the sea it passes between us;

And the trees that will shed tears before me:

A kindle in the heart, it sparks

An energy in intention, all steps future marked,

And so the waiting goes. Therefore I am in

A chain that grows weaker with each pull

And rust; that determination cannot be denied

I will move on; searching for virgin field

To my ears, and touch,—my heart does connect,

And lungs breathe; to a sun forever reminding

That here you are but pollen to the air

The very feet for which I plant, the gardener,

The home, the creator of my mind, and heart

Of all I know how to now be.

Part Four: Touch

                        Never alone,

For my skin found its natural calling, acceptance

Of what it needs to not fade before autumn:

Hearing vibrations of a life once knew

Of that street; my favourite vantage spot,

Why, how are you? My voice croaked

To a spirit unfamiliar, it engaged

My home is but a library of memory in dust

Oh to test its pulse. Yes! It beats strongly

My homework to hold my wrist and smile,

Myself, my heart! and to give love to the cycle

Knowing that forever we move

That time does tock; tick to the recognition,

Through all these weeks of subdued song, to cry

From sand now shaken: the egg timer now turned

My nails require clipping, not to curtail flight

Within me, muscles now engaged to relax

With the promise of untutored sunlight, to wake,

Paranoia and fear, here or was it there, 

Never settled but rooted, in a present unploughed

In the facile engagement of yesterday,

It hooks to claw you back, to remain the behaviour

To sing yesteryears song. Thoughts spring

Dancing a fresh path lit by the moon:

And let the collective of empathy never 

Be torn like pre lockdown plans: and, tomorrow

When remembrance buds as a leaf falls

Deep into the nerve; upon where my pen

Shall capture the manifestation for those present

My heart captures more than my mind

For all those for whom I was a raconteur; hey, ho,

If isolation, detachment, or viral fear,

Be that with which you split thy bridge to me,

Oh of patience and tender joy will I give breath,

And I love thee! Yes, you as well—

A memory for which I will nurture

My gospel, I will toss it to the wind with eyes in water

Of that time—a hold of a hand

That up here on an urban hill in isolation

I set an intention of adventure; and, to start

I plunge into the sunrise, yesterday went

Noted and learnt and inhaled: heart yearns

Enriched in embrace—my! I have connected

Of holier love. Yet as we look eyelids unfurled

That those days spent within four walls, those walls

In whose liberty curtailed, that canopy cocktail,

And then there it was, I needed to feel

More in touch, in my skin, for the sake of looking up

[and stop]

2020: Text
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