And through odd coppice gates I continue on my way, consulting that disturbing darkness which Hardy once foretold. The darkling thrush, it says, the only citizen of winter’s cold, keeps pace with me, and I with him.
Am I Elijah by the dried-up river bed in darkness, fed by some hapless bird with wanderlust? And is it ignorance which finds him blind, to me a blessing from afar?
I trudge through sick white banks of ever-deepening snow, losing my legs in their mounting silence of the earth. The skies are gray, it has been said; the death of day so soon upon the falling night. What cordial bend and graceful bow would do to earth waiting for its funeral? And whatever hunted, left its evil for the safety of the hearth, the cackle of enveloping fires which otherwise destroy—
But here, in the black mist of nothing, the soulless empty of the world, I am most happy. There is no human curse, no language tangled up in trees, no ridicule that heavy flies and subtle cannot fall, nor nothing first and last that is the human way of things. I am at nature’s mercy, and all her creatures, too.
Whatever nakedness I feel, thrust upon the open air, the whistling wind, I prefer it to the artificial warmth. For I am purely me in the dark tide of winter’s roaring storm and her seductive eye. I am fastened to her whim, and it feels so necessary that I release myself within her—
But for my life, there would be no meaning, if I did not understand its emptiness and lack. It echoes in the stale wind, the unwavering watch of night. And if in sleep I feel the bitter pang of cold yet upon my back, and in my toes, it is best that I approach the world with these lingering forever.
We are not made for hearth and home; but through a coppice gate to trudge, in the fabric of the snow, the petulant fever of earth’s dark winter days.