"Let us go, then, you and I."

For a cycle on the Monsal trail, with thoughts of Eliot's lovesong of J.Alfred Prufrock.



Posted by Kevin Flint on Jan 18, 2017

"Let us go, then, you and I"

I wanted to experiment a little with my own writing for this blog. Given the close connection between much European philosophy that I’ve been drawing from in earlier blogs and poetry, I thought it was time to begin including my own poetic forms of writing in my blog as another mode of expression; another way to give expression to the experiences of running, climbing, cycling and so on.

"Let us go, then, you and I"

to a place inviting its own
escape,
escape from the demands
of everyday life,
escape from work…

But, there's no escaping the play.
The heavens opened this morning
greeting us all with temptation
painted by the Gods,
on that ever-immeasurable canvas,
they created an azure-blue sky.
Mountain-biking the Monsal Trail,
for us,
created its own rhythm:
Hassop and Great Longstone,
Headstone Tunnel and its viaduct,
Monsal Dale and Cressbrook,
Litton and Millers Dale,
Chee Tor and its tunnels,
Before a breather upon reaching Topley Pike junction.

"Let us go, then, you and I"

to a place that doesn’t get named,
on the trail,
a place that is placeless,
where many sublime hidden forces
made possible this very trail.
The green rolling fields,
their own geometry
of paths, ways, routes and traces,
bring travellers to a time which is timeless.
But, there’s no notice.
"Welcome timelessness!"
Here,
stories of the geology,
of lives given in the age of steam
speak only in their silence.
Here,
limestone beds at the bottom of warm seas
the sublime hidden forces,
the fires of the earth,
thrust up into the air,
as so much plastic rock,
before being cracked apart
and in another aeon,
filled with moving ice
as valleys
that now have become the place
of the Monsal trail.

"Let us go, then, you and I"

to the place of Monsal
where history
has written many stories,
still playing out
in its silent airs.
But,
you have to work hard
to find any notice
those histories that made possible this trail.
At once a challenge
tunnelled by gangs of navvies:
objects of the industrial age
their bodies,
their very being
a sublime reservoir of energy:
its own silent bodily fires
keeping on the move
bare hands and picks,
preserving the motion,
the rhythm, of muscled shoulders,
the hand-eye grip upon heavy sledges
braying rock and earth
carried away
on shovels, buckets and railway trucks
in so much sweat, steam, and dust filled airs.
The body’s long hour’s labour,
its navigator engineers
and crude explosives
exchanged for so much capital,
though,
being in the wrong class,
such bodies
realise only a few of its own crumbs.

"Let us go, then, you and I"

to a place where ‘the mind-forged manacles’
of that earlier industrial age
have been so conveniently silenced,
kept in a state of exception
suspects after 9/11.
In the trompe l’oeil
of capitalism today,
as in the barely visible tarmac
for planes landing in hot weather
Litton Mill stands as a particularly solid point of reference.
its hubris hidden behind
formal decoration,
now desirable accommodation,
still tells many stories.
Of child labour,
 ploughing
  weeding
   sowing
    spraying
     ginning
the dust filled air
gulped into the lungs
of hungry and starved children
as capitalism grown in the name of cotton:
such cheap-child-bodies,
once products of the industrial age
that brought to England its Empire,
they haven’t gone away:
Uzbekistan and India,
Egypt and China,
Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan
and Argentina.
They all keep growing
these tiny cheap bodies
to go on the waste tips
created by our so-called civilizations.

"Let us go, then, you and I"

But, where?
Where shall we go?
Are we ever able to find a place?
A place
where there are moves towards justice.
Let’s follow.
This new and violent brand of modern injustice,
at least leaves us
with its trail of dissemination
at Monsal:
In following its trail
isn’t there always a danger
of being
yes that sublime naming force,
those transcendent gathering powers
of being,
cutting us away
from its consequences
in the name
of what some call freedom?

Kevin Flint, September 2016



I look forward to hearing from you.