Monday, 14 December 2015

floods and our own natures

If I lived in Cockermouth, I'd not want lectures about the follies of building on a flood-plain, which may indeed be folly, but the town wasn't built on such a daft place. It had the misfortune to grow around the confluence of two rivers, and has suffered in recent years from floods caused by what were up to now truly exceptional rainfall levels.

The river, TS Eliot tells us, is a strong brown god; it is a problem to solve for the builders of bridges, or merely a useful way of transporting goods, but "sullen and intractable, untrustworthy," "waiting, watching and waiting." And he also tells us that "his rhythm" is part of our lives, part of us, present "in the nursery bedroom" and other domestic places.

He's reminding us, perhaps, that we are part of the same natural forces and processes that make the rivers flow - and flood in rage sometimes. Bit like Dylan Thomas with his "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower, drives my green age."  

This correlation between natural powers and what we are suggests that there are within each of us sullen, intractable, untrustworthy forces - the potential to rage and flood, as well as burst through in green springtime. 

It seems to me that it is when we don't acknowledge, understand and to some degree accept these forces within us, as opposed to ignoring or trying to repress them - or projecting them onto people around us - that is when we rage and flood and generally bust things up. 

Water will find its own level, the lowest channel it can; it works round things when it can.

But when it can't.... 

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