Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Hannah's thirtieth year to heaven

4/01/2014: update!
Just saw that Kyle Dempster has made an adventure film about cycling through Central Asia.  What can I say?  Hannah did it first!

Have a look at The Road to Karakol here:

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Today I met Hannah: a friend of a friend who raced the Mongol Derby last year.  I met up with her partly out of curiosity, partly to beg for her GPS and partly to nick kit suggestions (watch this space for a kit list update).  She was a hoot - I liked her instantly and liked her even more when I had a look at Hannah's Central Asian tumblr this evening.  

Hannah raced the world's longest horse race (her tumblr post on the Mongol Derby is here) at the end of a six month trip cycling around central Asia.  She also went to the Naadaam Festival (see also here), the Gobi and to a monastery in a ger.  Reading her tumblr lead me to a poem I had never read before but which is so fantastic I'm posting it in its entirety.  

Poem in October


It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood   
      And the mussel pooled and the heron
                  Priested shore
            The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall   
            Myself to set foot
                  That second
      In the still sleeping town and set forth.


      My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name   
      Above the farms and the white horses
                  And I rose   
            In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
            Over the border
                  And the gates
      Of the town closed as the town awoke.


      A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling   
      Blackbirds and the sun of October
                  Summery
            On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly   
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened   
            To the rain wringing
                  Wind blow cold
      In the wood faraway under me.


      Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail   
      With its horns through mist and the castle   
                  Brown as owls
            But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales   
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.   
            There could I marvel
                  My birthday
      Away but the weather turned around.


      It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky   
      Streamed again a wonder of summer
                  With apples
            Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother   
            Through the parables
                  Of sun light
      And the legends of the green chapels


      And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.   
      These were the woods the river and sea
                  Where a boy
            In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy   
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
            And the mystery
                  Sang alive
      Still in the water and singingbirds.


      And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true   
      Joy of the long dead child sang burning
                  In the sun.
            It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon   
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.   
            O may my heart’s truth
                  Still be sung
      On this high hill in a year’s turning.

- Dylan Thomas
Posted via the Poetry Foundation.