gathering the reflections
of my study
I found the wood engraving in a charity shop. Early nineteenth century and
reminiscent of Samuel Palmer, but the craftsmanship much inferior and
the artist’s name indecipherable. “Marsh’s Pool,” wherever that may be.
The Taoist atmosphere attracted me — a cabin or cottage, with a veranda,
looking out on a small lake surrounded by pines,
a tiny figure
beneath a lightly graven moon
No sooner was the picture hung on my study wall than, on moonlit nights,
I am transported off to dream on that veranda. In the early dreams it felt
that I was taken there because of something unresolved or to answer some
unknown question. The dreams were as disturbed as my waking life.
My soft moon shadow
by scudding clouds
Next morning I’d anxiously examine my rustic doppelgänger through a
magnifying glass, but the engraving is rough and unclear and he gives nothing away. Neither are any clues to be found elsewhere in the print. A vacant
T, the wooden jetty thrusts out in moonshine.
However, with successive dreaming I have begun to settle more peacefully into the picture, and to become as much one with it as the little figure
appears to be. In deep contentment I have become the dream that place
Inside this lacquer frame
wandering pine needle paths
I warm to other dreams
Eventually, moved by gratitude, I give the picture away to a deeply disturbed person, that she, too, may dream herself back into some peace of
Years later, now settled back in Wales, I have lost track of both the print
and the person to whom I gave it. But I have found Marsh’s Pool, standing out incongruously on the map among the Welsh place names. It lies in
Montgomeryshire, some two miles north-east of the village of Llangurig.
You can reach it only by rough paths. Everything is indeed as in the print,
except that there’s no one there on the veranda. Except, of course, me.
Printed on water
of a summer’s day