Sunday, July 29, 2007


Though Dynasties Pass

Edwin Way Teale, A Walk Through the Year (July 20):
On this evening walk of ours, at the end of another torrid day, we come upon the deep red of wood lilies along the skirts of Juniper Hill; we find a firefly asleep, its lamp still unlit, clinging to the furry underside of a mullein leaf; we smell the honeyed fragrance of the sweetest flower of our north meadow, the purple bloom of a pasture thistle; we watch a small butterfly in the sunset weaving in and out, up and down among the forests of the mowing grass. With such small and pleasant things we round out our day. Small they are. Pleasant they are. But unimportant they are not. They are the enduring things. They are part of all that steadfast, unconquered, timeless, simple progression in nature that Thomas Hardy pointed out will "go onward the same though dynasties pass."
The quotation comes from Thomas Hardy's poem In Time of "The Breaking of Nations":
Only a man harrowing clods
  In a slow silent walk,
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
  Half asleep as they stalk.

Only thin smoke without flame
  From the heaps of couch grass:
Yet this will go onward the same
  Though dynasties pass.

Yonder a maid and her wight
  Come whispering by;
War's annals will fade into night
  Ere their story die.
The last stanza of Hardy's poem reminds me of the great love story hidden in the pages of Teale's A Walk Through the Year. "We" in the paragraph above are Nellie and Edwin Teale, an old woman and man when the book was written, but once "a maid and her wight." In an episode from "war's annals," their only son David died in World War II.

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