May 3rd, 2011

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

Veil Between Worlds #6: England, my England

There is just… SOMETHING… about England.

I’ve been in love with the place, with its pageantry and its history and its myth, since a very young age, and if you’re already half tipped in that direction it’s fatally easy to slide into it completely, watch it close over your head, and find yourself wandering through a countryside that never was but should have been and which will live on in your dreams for as long as you have breath to dream with.

That this isn’t a new thing is witnessed by a travelogue I wrote way way wayyyyy back in the late 1980’s. I think, when I went travelling the highways and byways of England with a then-beau whom (in the travelogue) I have named Henry. Here, below, a sample – which will also give you an inkling about what I mean about that thin, thin, thin veil between the worlds which covers England like a bridal veil does a shy bride:

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You’ll have to forgive me the writing of this – remember, it was two decades ago, and while I was already an inverterate scribbler (this account comes to 176 typewritten pages, in the folder that I have, and it’s INCOMPLETE…) and from the excerpt I picked you can already see several things.

One was that there was a magic to everything here, and that magical things were only a reach and a touch away. That legend of Arthur sleeping inside the Tor – that just slipped in there, almost seamlessly, a bridge from here to the Middle Ages and from there all the way back into the Age of Myth and then back again into the present day. And the way it appears in this travelogue was almost exactly the way I thought about it back then on top of the Tor looking out over contemporary Somerset, the forsoothly language and all. It might have been history and legend but it was close enough – there, then – to push aside all the contemporannea around me and look at directly, with my own soul, with my own inner vision. The Veil Between the Worlds, pushed aside with an ease that was almost scary, and there’s me standing with one foot on both sides of the divide and, you know, in England it is easy.

The other is the more bucolic pastoral side of things. The way you can stay in a fourteenth-century farmhouse. The fairy woods at the back of the garden. The rabbits in the hedges. The lambs in the fold. The mist on the bluebells. It felt as though I might have looked on all these things, listened to all these sounds, smelled all these smells, if I had been in the fourteenth-century farmhouse just as easily as I had done from my twentieth-century window. The divide between the different eras was THAT thin, that fragile. For a moment, I fully breathed the air of an era when Plantagenet kings might have ridden the roads of England… and I could not have told you the difference between Then and Now.

There are places where this is just part of the way that things are. England, my England of ancient kings and hedge-row rabbits, is one of the places where I breathe the air of dream, and peer with less difficulty than almost anywhere else behind that Veil… and smile at what I see there.