Going back after sharing the texts from Gawain was different. None of us are now novices, but the focus has definitely shifted from where Mat and I started with Garner to the Gawain poet. Here (from December) is a clumsy attempt at the ME text.
And the analytic mind starts to whir: when were those trees planted? What was here before? The hill of Ludchurch is very round: is this the barrow the Gawain poet refers to?
We climb the hill again, Mat diverting to bring an extra log to Ludchurch; a Christological image. The Gawain text is dominant, I find I cannot recall where the Ludchurch/Garner connection comes from (I know now), and at the Castle Rocks – where Debbie discovers how they are configured – I send Mat and Jane and Debbie and Roger off in five-minute intervals, reading where Gawain’s guide says (is this the first instance in literature?) about how he will go no further – and urges Gawain to go his way. I read to Mat, to Debbie and then last of all in a halting Middle English to Roger, who seems moved. I know I am: I sense the team have all brought jigsaw pieces together for the Wild Spaces Wild Magic project, and one of my donations is to be able to give Roger back something of what he gave us.
Ravens call overhead again. We watch a robin. We are careful in the mud. The pre-arranged aim is to get into our own writing; it is interesting to see how some of this is in notebooks, some in cameras; I am to taken up by the dynamics of the group to pay much attention to my own task.
But on our return from Ludchurch we set ourselves – or Jane sets us – to write. People write creatively, and I am unsure. I start a poem and it is like the deer from yesterday: I look again and it is gone. I look at the rags of a piece I showed one of the profs., a piece grandly called “A Hermeneutic of Landscape” and none of them really work. I struggle to write. When we share our ideas there really is nothing there, and my report-back on my process is unreflective. I find myself wondering how I dare face my dissertation students. The session over, I go out, up the hill in my stupid pyjama bottoms with my iPad in my hand – and look at Ludchurch, misty, silent, utterly beautiful. No writing of mine will ever do this justice.