Sunday started off chilly and grey, but the morning dissolved into one of those warm blue afternoons of heart-bursting loveliness. At around 5, somewhere between the glory of day and the luxury of twilight, I went for a walk. It's a secluded place, not as well-trodden as some of Canberra's other walks, nor quite as untrodden as one would like. The path winds along beside a sheltered arc of the lake through tall autumnal trees giving way, here and there, to still pictures of water, mountains, and more distant trees.
Such a walk on such a day made me wish I had more poetry in my head. No doubt an Anne Elliot or a Fanny Price would have had no trouble summoning hundreds of apt lines, but on these occasions I always feel more like Bertie Wooster:
Something something something I
Something something something by...
I could blame my school; indeed I blame them very much for not teaching me Latin or Greek. But past a certain point, one has only oneself to blame. I could in my spare time devote myself to a program of memorisation, but on a lovely afternoon, I'd rather go for a walk. And maybe there's something meritorious in not having memorised a prescriptive catalogue, not having to sift through that database to find the best that has been thought or said, not having to think or speak at all.
Yet I find this state of sheer inarticulate being eludes me as well. Instead of nothing, my head fills with fragments and snippets of the thought and spoken, and not even the best of those. Perhaps I'll blame the internet, for outsourcing knowledge and downgrading it to information. Why should I retrieve words from my head when I can retrieve them more efficiently from my laptop? Perhaps I should take my kindle on these walks, but surely that would defeat the purpose.
Which brings me back to why I walk at all. I don't think I go looking for what the poets wrote about. It works the other way: the poets infest the landscape, in more or less known ways. Poetry nerd that I am, I seem incapable of pure experience, unmediated by verse. But then, so did the poets.