Friday, March 23, 2007

In the Fading Light

(Originally written July 10th 1934)

In the Fading Light –
Which concludes Volume 1 of my little life story.

“…I’ll unpack that scented store
of song and flower and sky and face
And count and touch and turn them o’er
Musing upon them; as a mother, who
Has watched her children all the rich day through,
Sits, quiet handed, in the fading light,
When children sleep, ere night”

Laughter and sunshine and colour – at Runnymede.
Through one glorious week of spectacle and crowds, the great Pageant crashes triumphant. Laughter. Sunshine. Colour. And music. Those chords and themes which must forever, when heard again in perhaps some distant place, evoke the memory of Runnymede.

Do you smoke? ….Hail, brother Roman!… The left hand, you ass!… Wear my sword and sash. It suits you, Peggy!… I say, won’t it be rotten when this is over?… Damn the Epilogue, we’ll stay here… Staff cars only! No parking here!… Every thing's the same as it always was – that’s all… Come and have a drink… Put this mackintosh on, then… Gallant Soldier!… Isn’t this a glorious week?

The two could see the floodlit arena well, from the dark slope of the hill above.
Then the magnificent Grand Finale. “Oh God, our help in ages past…” Thousands of voices, in unison, carried the word clearly into the night and far, far away. Then as the Anthem was played – on the dark hillside they stood together, hand in hand.

Ended.

Alone, silent, he sat and watched the thinning crowd. He seemed the only one alone. they hurried to and fro, carrying discarded costumes, calling good bye to friends. The crowd lessened. It was over. He wheeled his cycle and rode away down the traffic cluttered road.

Ended.

They stood up; it was dusk. The man who had been watching them had disappeared. All was quiet in the trees. He threw down his cigarette… They entered the dark wood, arms entwined. “I do feel frightened” “Liar!” “Well, thrilled then” The man – a tramp? – lay near the path, quite still, perhaps asleep. They passed by and then stopped to gather sweet honeysuckle from a tree.

“Why did you write it, then?” (White blossom seemed to be all around – and “lady’s slippers” in the grass. A lovely July evening.) From his bitterness he answered, “Oh, I just wrote it out of politeness.” Her face changed; she turned away, he wanted to take those words back. Too late! “Peggy, do you think I…”

She ran blindly away down the hillside, crying, crying….

The river bank on a hot afternoon. “You’re sure you’re not speaking impulsively?” “Positive.” He hesitated a moment, then jumped up. “Good bye” she said.
“Bye.” The cycle sped down the path.

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