The Neville Symington Lecture at the Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis was inaugurated in 2001 to acknowledge the contribution Mr Neville Symington has made to psychoanalysis. The lecture was defined in this way:


Every year (or every second year if appropriate) a speaker would be invited to give a public lecture under the heading of Psychoanalysis and Culture. The speaker can be a person from the Arts, Humanities or Sciences or from within the psychoanalytic community. The aim of the lecture is to promote dialogue and understanding between psychoanalysis and other branches of knowledge. It is not expected that all speakers be regarded as supporters of psychoanalysis. What is envisaged is that he or she accepts that psychoanalysis is a serious and legitimate endeavour aimed at understanding the human mind.


The 2012 Neville Symington lecture, “This Rough Magic” was presented at Sydney University on Saturday 11th February 2012. “This Rough Magic” was also a commemoration the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis on June 25th 1951. The lecture was given by Mr. Maurice Whelan.


Maurice Whelan is a member of the Australian Psychoanalytical Society. He grew up in Ireland where he studied philosophy and theology. Moving to England he studied social work, followed by an MA in criminology. He trained as a psychoanalyst with the British Psychoanalytical Society in London. He was a visiting lecturer at the Tavistock Clinic. He moved to Sydney in 1992. A past Chairman of the Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis, his published work covers the fields of social work, education, literature and psychoanalysis. His book, Mistress of Her own Thoughts: Ella Freeman Sharpe and the Practice of Psychoanalysis was published in 2000. His Thoughts for the Twenty-first Century: In the Company of William Hazlitt was published in 2003.


In recent years he has turned to fiction, and since 2008 has published one novel, Boat People, plus two books of poetry, The Lilac Bow and Excalibur's Return.

A note to the reader. The text of this lecture is the text as spoken on the day of presentation. It has not been altered to make it a more ‘readable’ document.

THIS ROUGH MAGIC
BY
MAURICE WHELAN

“The apparition of those faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.”

It is 1912. At Place de la Concorde on the Paris Metro a poet watches the passing flow of faces. He writes a poem. The poem is thirty lines. He’s not happy with what he’s written. The words do not capture the experience that has been imprinted on him. He carries the thirty lines around for six months. He re-writes the poem. Now it is fifteen lines. Another six months pass. Still unhappy he, Ezra Pound, pares the poem down and finds the words to express what he had felt.

“The apparition of those faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.”

Pound said that writing such short poems is a risky activity; there is a danger the poem will appear meaningless. I agree with Pound that it is risky, but I have my own views on the nature of the risk. There is always the risk of criticism, but a poet will have already critiqued his own work and decreed it stylistically good enough. For me the crucial test I apply to my poems is – have I, as a poet been extended in the writing.

I will tell you where I think the risk lies. To do so I need to make two points. First of all, a poem is not life.  Life and poetry are different. They have different kinds of existence. A poem may run parallel to life, draw inspiration from life, it can come close to life and the distance at which it hovers may be miniscule, but like two electrical wires, if they collide, the poem explodes. It’s no longer a poem. (Probably now a piece of biography.) A poem is a thing. Edward Hirsch called it ‘a made-up thing’.

To make my second point I turn to Edward Dyer who in 1585 wrote the following:
 
My mind to me a kingdom is,
Such perfect joy therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
That earth affords or grows by kind.

Ezra Pound held the experience he had at Place de la Concorde on the Paris Metro, inside the kingdom of his mind for a year before offering us his poem. 

If I, while living in the kingdom of my mind, make a poem and offer it to you, will you receive it into the kingdom of your mind?
Everything else I have to say today will stand of fall on those two points. Will you threat the poem as a thing? Will you take it inside you?
Pound’s poem had fourteen words. I wrote a fourteen word poem. I called it:   

 Mirror Image

Don’t look away
I wasn’t staring.
I saw my youth in you.
                    That’s all.

Little poems ask you to bring a lot of yourself to the reading and hearing. They raise big questions.

Do you see your mind as a kingdom?
Do you take the poem in and give it room?
Are you willing to be extended?

Here’s another little poem. This one is even smaller. It’s only ten words. I called it:

Real Presence

Your spirit at my side
absent footprints
in the snow.

I’m going to move from small to big; poetry to prose. I’m will read a piece of prose, a scene from my novel Boat People. It is 1848. The Great Famine has devastated Ireland. The Donavan family – Michael the father and Catherine the mother, and their children are emigrating to Australia. They have closed their cottage door for the last time. Friends they will never see again, line the roadside. They are travelling by pony and trap.
     
They passed along the hedgerows where Michael had played as a child. When he was a small boy he knew the position of every bird’s nest along the way: the thrush; the blackbird; the robin. He knew them all by the colour of their eggs. And the wren, the smallest of all, the only one to put a roof on its house. When Catherine came to these parts she too walked the fields, first with Michael, then with growing life in her womb. Later, before Aoifa and Emily had grown steady on their feet, each were lifted and invited to look into secret places and see those priceless treasures: the eggs of the thrush, blue with browney-red speckles; those of the blackbird, a turquoisy-blue; the robin red-breast’s pale bluish-green. Days later they looked again and saw and heard the tiny, blind chicks. Outside the nest the discarded pieces of egg-shell were carefully picked up and carried home in the palm of the hand.

Mrs Fingleton stood at the end of her laneway; her grandson at her side. She looked like some ancient building; he a flying buttress holding her erect. Michael saw her battle with pain as she stood and waited… The old woman spoke in the old Gaelic tongue.

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat
Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl
Go lonraí an ghrian go te ar d'aghaidh
Go dtite an bháisteach go mín ar do pháirceanna
Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís,
Go gcoinní Dia i mbos A láimhe thú.

Before they had gone half a mile they had passed fields, each with their own name, each telling a history which was never written down. The Grove, Murphy’s, the Larches, the Rath, the Copse, the Hollow. And each twist or turn along the road, each small stream crossed had its history and its name.

Out of the misty morning a spectral figure emerged, walking towards them on the side of the road. Michael knew him by his step. They had sat beside each other and shared the same slate in Donald Pendergast’s classroom. Like a hooded shade he raised his arm straight up, high above his shoulder, his head bowed. For him all goodbyes had been spoken, all looks given and received. He neither slowed down nor increased his speed, but walked steadily on, his arm still held high, as the mist, having momentarily presented him, received him back again.

What do we notice as we pass through life?
What do we see?
What do we hear, listen for?
As we migrate, through a day, a week, a year, what happens to us?
Do we have the spirits of others at our side?
Are we aware of the absent footprints?
Do we stare long enough to see something that means something?
Will we spend months, years, living with a fleeting moment?

It’s so easy to lose things. Loss comes in many forms. There are big losses; small losses. This might seem to you a very small loss, but I lost a word for forty years. Didn’t know it was gone. It just fell off. When I was writing the above section of Boat People I tripped over it.

I wanted to insert the old Irish blessing. The English translation is, “May the road rise to meet you/ May the wind be always at your back/ May the sun shine warm upon your face/ The rains fall soft upon your fields/ And until we met again/ May God hold you in the palm of his hand”.
I intended to have it in English but then I decided to use English and Gaelic words. I put it in the MS. It progressed through galley proofs to printed book. I was preparing my thoughts for a book launch and for the first time in decades I spoke the lines in Gaelic, Go n-éirí an bóthar leat/Go raibh an ghaoth…

I got that far and I was stopped. I was overcome by the sound of the word “ghaoth”. It was a sensation like the one we have before we weep. The Irish poet Seamus Heaney described such a sensation in his poem Postscript. Driving on an open road the car is hit by the wind coming from the side. His lines are: As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways/ And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

My heart was blown open by the sound of the word Ghaoth.  Ghaoth means, “wind”; “an ghaoth = “the wind”.   It is spelt g h a o t h. In Gaelic, “h” after a letter softens it. The Gaelic alphabet has 18 letters. There is no English ‘th” (as in ‘those’ or “this” sound in Gaelic. So the “g” and “th” are softened: ghaoth. It is pronounced  g’way. The word itself sounds like a gently passing breeze.

This is an example of a single word that got lost and lay dormant in an individual for decades. Later I’ll tell you a story of a word that was collectively lost for centuries.

As a writer I use poetry and prose in tandem. I often find writing a poem the best way to advance something that I am working on in a novel. It’s the practice of taking something you are struggling to know, into a different form of expression, and see what happens.

It could also be describes as plugging into the power of the poem – the power that made-up-thing can have. It is the energy Heaney described as “the power to persuade that vulnerable part of our consciousness of its rightness…that our solitudes and distresses are creditable…parts of being a human being.”

So, as an attempt to articulate for myself, and communicate to others what I had experienced with “ghaoth”, I wrote a poem called Anglo Irish. I built my poem around an old sixteenth century Gaelic poem called Cill Cháis (pronounced Kilcash). Cill Cháis was the name of a large estate near Clonmel in Co. Tipperary and was owned by the Butler family. The forests on the estate were being cleared. The poem is a lament for the death of Margaret Butler and the destruction of the old forests, and also an expression of sorrow for a changing world. The bell in the poem was like an old clock – used to sound the work hours of the day.

Anglo Irish
I never learned the Gaelic tongue
with any fluency but of late
long-forgotten words
old songs
poems
visit in the night.

Deep inside me the poem-songs sing
like summer leaves shimmering in the trees
like autumn leaves rustling under my feet.

Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?
Tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár;
níl trácht ar Chill Cháis ná ar a teaghlach
is ní bainfear a cling go bráth.

Thomas Kinsella translated the Gaelic
words of the unknown bard:
Now what will we do for timber,
with the last of the woods laid low?
There's no talk of Kilcash or its household
and its bell will be struck no more.

Lost words lost worlds
one and the same
languages like tall trees
drive roots
deep into the soil of the mind
the silent bell tolls for the silent voice.

One man’s gibberish
is to another’s ear
sweet music
the score
written in his mother’s eyes
her voice the bow
that moved from string to string.

Melodies now wander
in the twilight of my mind
calling me
to the dawn
to my creation
the moment when sounds
sang their way
into the marrow
of my soul.

Language is one of the most exquisite human inventions. It is pivotal to our humanness. The word “human” would mean something utterly different without language.  The Orkney writer George Mackay Brown wrote,

If language is lost word and name are drained of their ancient power. It is the word, blossoming as legend, poem, story, secret, that holds a community together and gives meaning to its life. If words become functional ciphers merely…they lose their “ghosts” – the rich aura that has grown around them from the start, and grows infinitesimally richer every time they are spoken. They lose their “kernel”, the sheer sensuous relish of utterance. Poetry is a fine interpenetration of ghost and kernel. We are in danger of contenting ourselves with husks. Decay of language is always the symptom of a more serious sickness.’

George Mackay Brown believed these ghosts were living parts of us and when we speak they are part of the texture of what we say and how we say it. If we neglect our language we lose that kernel, that “sheer sensuous relish of utterance”.

One of the articles of faith in the kingdom of my writing mind is expressed by Prospero in The Tempest

        “we are such stuff
As dreams are made on,” 

Without night dreams and day dreams we would all be lost in a strange world called ‘reality’. There’d be no imagination. In the mind of the writer, the world of the imagination is as real as the chair you sit on. We really are such stuff as dreams are made on.

The creation of a poem or a novel is to me the creation of a dream space.

If you look out for Mackay Brown’s “ghosts”, or listen to the melodies in the twilight of your mind, it can have a knock-on effect. Once in there, a process can take over. It’s hard to describe or explain but I have found myself writing other poems that must be somehow unconsciously provoked. This is one such poem.

Perfect Pitch

It happened impromptu
when the word impromptu
was beyond me.
People would call to the house
there’d be talk
of the weather
of rheumatism and lumbago
of who had died
and who had lately
come into the world.

The violin case would open
the melodeon taken from its box
tin whistles from the shelf.
Speech would cease.
Eyes close
and voices turn to song.

That was fifty years ago.
And today
I wait in silence and when I hear
the perfect pitch of stillness
I know the bow is on the string
fingers caress the keys, eyes
are closing and heaven’s gate
is opening once again.

 In our individual development I’d like to suggest that we all begin with poetry. Or we could ask, do we all begin with the poetic. We learn about and appreciate elements of poetry before we learn about and appreciate the elements of prose. Look at a parent and an infant and observe what happens in that long period before a child utters its first sentence. The child is hearing the music of language, the emotion that is carried by the sound of the voice and the words.

Upon these early aural foundations, there is constructed a whole edifice of sound. There are the human voices and accents that surround us. There is much variation here. Sydney, Glasgow, The Bronx, Ireland have different accents. All speak English.

We each have our own private orchestral history: human sounds; nature’s sounds. A screeching kookaburra’s; the crek, crek, call of a corncrake. If you were brought up near a Buddhist temple, the gong announcing dawn and the chanting of the monks would have entered into your very personal internal musical vocabulary. If your place of birth was Catholic Ireland in the1950’s you’d have had the repetitious incantation of the rosary.

As I have said, language drives roots deep into the soil of our minds. Seamus Heaney has something to say about how to plumb the depths. When asked if he was like Wordsworth, ‘who early in life had an intense experience…about inanimate nature which he spent…his poetical life trying to describe,’ Heaney said:

The early-in-life experience has been central to me all right. But I’d say you aren’t so much trying to describe it as trying to locate it. The amount of sensory material stored up or stored down in the brain’s and the body’s systems is inestimable. It’s like a culture at the bottom of a jar, although it doesn’t grow, I think, or help anything else to grow unless you find a way to reach it and touch it. But once you do, it’s like putting your hand into a nest and finding something beginning to hatch out in your hand.

I think of the writer delving into his own mind in this way. He does this work in the making of a poem or a novel. Similar sentiments underpin Heaney’s poem called,

The Diviner

Cut from the green hedge a forked hazel stick
That he held tight by the arms of the V:
Circling the terrain, hunting the pluck
Of water, nervous, but professionally

Unfussed. The pluck came sharp as a sting.
The rod jerked with precise convulsions,
Spring water suddenly broadcasting
Through a green hazel its secret stations.

The bystanders would ask to have a try.
He handed them the rod without a word.
It lay dead in their grasp till, nonchalantly,
He gripped the expectant wrists. The hazel stirred.

In his prose Heaney talks of “poetry as divination; poetry as revelation of the self to the self”. The diviner with the hazel rod finds the hidden treasures. Others want to have a go. He gives them the stick without saying a word. He doesn’t need to say any more. He has said all he needs to say in the poem.

The reader needs the sound of the poet’s poem to plummet his own private depths. Various poets have attended to this. T.S. Eliot wrote about ‘the auditory imagination’. Eliot observed that a person can know what a poem is about, before they understand it. Ted Hughes spoke about our ‘musical or audial memory’, about verbal sounds automatically linking up to root words that are beyond immediate awareness or conscious manifestation. ‘There are,’ he said, ‘vast systems of root meanings and related associations in the deep subsoil of psychological life. And it is the hidden patterns that are the stronger’.  Seamus Heaney in Crediting Poetry, his 1995 Nobel Prize lecture referred to the ‘temple inside our hearing which the passage of the poem calls into being…It has as much to do with the energy released by linguistic fission and fusion, with the buoyancy generated by cadence and tone and rhyme and stanza, as it has to do with the poem’s concerns or the poet’s truthfulness’.

I said I’d tell you a story about the collective loss of a word. It’s not my story. It is one the Irish writer John McGahern has told. He tells it thus:

In the village I grew up in we had a very bad football team. We always played out of defence. And whenever a high-relieving clearance went on the wind, out of defence in Charlie’s field, a big great roar from the sidelines used to go up, and the word [shouted out] was ‘Salamanca’. It was only later that I discovered that in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries during the Penal Laws, boys went from our part of the country - by foot and horseback and fishing boat - to study for the priesthood in Salamanca.
 
Shouting out ‘Salamanca’ was an act of defiance. The people on the sideline – raising their arms and fists and jumping up and down and cheering their football team after surviving an attack from a superior opposition, declaring they were still in the game – had no conscious awareness of the history of the word. (McGahern had to do his bit of research to find that out.) But unconsciously they knew. 

So, like ‘ghaoth’ or ‘Salamanca’, emotionally powerful words don’t become extinct. They become unconscious. We carry them inside us. As a writer of poetry and of prose I am always aware the reader has his or her own store of powerful words, sounds that await activation. I write poetry to be spoken/read out loud. But even in a novel, which for the most part is read silently, I am aware of the silent sound of the music of the words, the cadence of the sentence, the rhythms of the language. I always read my own prose out loud, to check if the music of the language is right. I need to satisfy myself that it is in order. ‘Heard melodies are sweet,’ John Keats wrote, ‘but those unheard are sweeter’.

To be explicit about a point that is implicit; the writer needs to know the secret musicality of his own particular, peculiar, personal, idiosyncratic way with words. He has to have his own ‘musical’ house in order. A piece from William Hazlitt might help to explain my point. Hazlitt said, ‘Most men’s minds are like musical instruments out of tune. Touch a particular key and it jars and makes harsh discord with your own.’
You may not have had fiddles and melodeons and tin whistles in your life, but you will have your own sounds. Maybe there are volumes of musical scores inside your aural library that have remained unheard for decades.

The key to opening them is silence, silence that will let you listen. Let’s go back to the final stanza of my poem Perfect Pitch.

That was fifty years ago.
And today
I wait in silence and when I hear
the perfect pitch of stillness
I know the bow is on the string
fingers caress the keys, eyes
are closing and heaven’s gate
is opening once again.

Silence and stillness are two of life’s precious qualities. In today’s world where frenzied communication is god, they are rare commodities. In today’s world where the fast-paced, adrenaline-driven novel can sell millions, there is no place to pause, let alone stop, to let the reader relax, to enable and experience of stillness.

When you can live with silence and stillness your words find a hidden key, and everything you hear and speak changes. Stillness isn’t a static place where nothing happens.

Silence makes room for imagination, inspiration and the capacity to listen.

George Mackay Brown wrote a wonderful poem about silence. He claims it is the task of the poet to interrogate silence. Here is George Mackay Brown’s poem. It is called simply,

The Poet

Therefore he no more troubled the pool of silence.
But put on mask and cloak,
Strung a guitar
And moved among the folk.
Dancing they cried,
‘Ah, how our sober islands
Are gay again, since this blind lyrical tramp
Invaded the Fair!’

Under the last dead lamp
When all the dancers and masks had gone inside
His cold stare
Returned to its true task, interrogation of silence.

To move to the final stage of this paper and explain my title. Shakespeare the poet, when he wrote his plays put on mask and cloak, strung a guitar and moved among the folk. Can you imagine being Shakespeare? Imagine that you have written 37 plays that will be performed all over the world in 400 years time. You have created characters like Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth, Cleopatra. You are so far ahead of everyone else. You have written plays that – to quote Harold Bloom – ‘abide beyond the edge of the mind’s reach, [and] remain the outward limit of human achievement’. You’re not just a literary genius, who among other things can make up words when they are needed – 1800 in all, but intellectually, psychologically, morally, aesthetically, spiritually, linguistically, emotionally you will shape the future.

Imagine you decide at age 47 to stop writing. You are planning writing your final play. Are you going to rest on your laurels or do something totally different? Let me tell you how I think about The Tempest. As I do so, I hope you will see why I choose the title This Rough Magic for this the 5th Neville Symington Lecture. And if we think of a five act play, everything I have already said could be thought of as the first four acts.
We are now in act five.

The Tempest is a play full of references to sleep and waking, to dreaming and day-dreaming, drowsiness, trance, hallucination – various states of consciousness and unconsciousness. There’s lots of music and noise; more music than in any other of Shakespeare’s plays. As Harold Goddard said, Shakespeare is interested in the relationship between sleep and music – ‘between music and the unconscious mind’.
Before Prospero the magician renounces magic he describes the wonders that he has performed. He says,
   
                                 I have bedimm'd
    The noontide sun, call'd forth the mutinous winds,
    And 'twixt the green sea and the azured vault
    Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
    Have I given fire and rifted Jove's stout oak
    With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
    Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck'd up
    The pine and cedar: graves at my command
    Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let 'em forth
    By my so potent art. But this rough magic
    I here abjure,

and adds,

...I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.’ 

Briefly the story of The Tempest is this: Prospero lives on an enchanted island with his daughter Miranda. Caliban, who is half savage, is Prospero’s slave. Ariel, who is a spirit also serves Prospero. Prospero was Duke of Milan. His brother Antonio usurped his position. Antonio is on a ship near the island. Prospero creates the tempest to force his brother onto the island so he can get revenge. There are various stands to the story. Miranda falls in love with Ferdinand the prince of Naples. Prospero forgives his brother and his position is restored.

I will focus on Ariel. Lear and Hamlet and Macbeth and Othello and numerous other characters of Shakespeare enthral us, and offer knowledge of the human world that is unequalled in literature. But here is his last play, Shakespeare gives us something new. Ariel is unique among the hundreds of characters in Shakespeare’s plays. Ariel was imprisoned by the witch Sycorax in a cloven pine for 12 years. She was powerless to release him. Prospero uses his magic to free Ariel and Ariel was then in his master’s service. At the end of the story Ariel is freed.

Think of the story as an allegory. Here I am indebted to Harold Goddard. (Goddard, who wrote The Meaning of Shakespeare, is the most psychologically minded Shakespearean critic I have ever read.) In the allegory Ariel is pure imagination. When enslaved by the senses, superstition usurps its function and the senses become powerless to release and use imagination. A totalitarian mind, like that of the witch Sycorax, is utterly devoid of imagination. Ariel is described as A spirit too delicate/ To act her earthly and abhorn’d commands.

Reason and knowledge – Prospero is a learned man – come to the rescue and free up imagination.  That’s the essence of the allegory.
Ariel is hard to pin down. Ariel is not human. Who is he/she/it? In the play Ariel is often an invisible or disguised presence. When the play is staged the part can be played by a male or female actor.

Prospero has been wronged and is intent on revenge and uses magic to make the tempest to trap his enemies. He can create a storm, but when anything more subtle is required he calls upon Ariel. Ariel sends people to sleep. He guides them to safety. He makes the music and the dance. And he can improvise – take initiative. Prospero wishes his daughter Miranda will fall in love with Ferdinand, but bringing that about is Ariel’s work. And Ariel’s music is the spontaneous overflow of the joy of life. 

Prospero’s renouncing of his rough magic coincides with the release of Ariel. Music replaces magic. Wonder in the ordinary, replaces the performance of wonders.

Ariel achieving freedom is pivotal. Ariel is the agent of internal miracles. He is the one who prompts Prospero towards forgiveness.  Listen to the way Ariel speaks to Prospero about Gonzalo:

Ariel: His tears run down his beard like winter’s drops
From eaves of reeds. Your charm so strongly works them
That if you now beheld them, your affections
Would become tender.
Prospero:                   Dost thou think so, spirit?
Ariel:       Mine would, sir, were I human.
Prospero:                   And mine shall,

Ariel is the one who has done all the subtle things. Prospero’s magic is bombastic; Ariel’s is gentle, life-enhancing. Prospero performed external miracles. Ariel is present is every act of redemption, reconciliation and compassion and creativity.
I would say that Ariel hovered over Place de la Concorde in 1912 and was at Pound’s side a year later prompting him to write:

The apparition of those faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Ariel was present when Heaney wrote:

As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

When George Mackay Brown said:

His cold stare
Returned to its true task, interrogation of silence.

Perhaps all poets wait for Ariel’s presence at their side.

There is a stillness and a quietness about Ariel, a stillness and a quietness that is only to be found in the ordinary and the everyday. To emphasise this point I will read you a piece from another story I have written. Two people, a brother and sister meet after a twenty year separation. He (Dan) has wandered the world; she (Julia) has been a stay-at-home. Dan asks Julia why she didn’t leave. The dialogue between them goes like this:

‘Did you ever think of leaving?’ Dan asks.
‘Where would I have gone?’
‘There’s always somewhere to go.’
‘Some times,’ Julia says, ‘the place you go to is worse than the place you leave.’
‘How do you know if you have never been anywhere?’
‘You don’t have to travel the earth to know things,’ Julia says. ‘There’s a whole world here; right under your feet.’

Ariel’s transition takes place quietly. When Prospero gives up his magic he goes with a flourish. (In one stage production his book ignited into flames.) In the midst of busy talk about “important” issues by others on the stage, the final words between Prospero and Ariel are whispered as an aside:

Then to the elements be free, and fare thou well.

The stage play ends with Prospero’s Epilogue. But I think of this, William Shakespeare’s last play as having two endings, the other – more important one – is when Ariel makes an exit.

Ariel is the imaginative, inventive spirit of Shakespeare. It’s his legacy to us. His great works only become great to us, when we receive them with our imaginative, inventive mind. This Ariel, this spirit, exists quietly and works its wonders internally. Its fine magic uses simple words, the words of poetry, which will, no matter how dark the world becomes, continue to shine a light, a light that will lead us to the place Miranda described when she saw people she had never seen before.
                                                              “O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous man kind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in ’t!”

A Postscript
So. Where do we stand?
Where do we find ourselves at this moment in time?
When we look back and ask where our journey has taken us
what sights have we seen? What sounds have we heard?
What magic have we embraced?

Do our place names – like Michael Donovan’s groves and Larches – hold firm in our mind?
Have we discarded precious fragments
or carried them home in the palm of the hand?

Have we migrated to places we have never before visited
journeyed through regions that required us to extend ourselves
dreamed new dreams
seen new spirits
and ghosts and apparitions and reflections?

Do we hold our eyes open for the silent spectral figures
that people our past and allow them to enter
through the mist of each new day?

Can we accept the diviner’s touch?
Can we let known and strange things
catch the heart off guard and throw it open?
Can we interrogate our own silence?
Is stillness a state
or a place we draw breath?
And when we explore the kingdom of our mind
are we desirous of the miraculous
seeking to control the noontide sun and the mutinous winds?

Or can we be content with wonders less auspicious?
And when we have to play out of defence
face an opponent with superior powers
do we maintain an eternal youthfulness of spirit
express wonder at how many goodly creatures there are here
how beauteous man kind is
what a brave new world can be created
when we shout out our own Salamanca
defiantly declaring
no matter what is thrown at us
we will remain in the game?

The End