Aug 12 2012

Discovering the Primeval Grandeur of the World

Published by at 8:37 am under John Cowper Powys

From The Philosophy of Solitude (1933), by John Cowper Powys.

It is a pitiful degeneracy in our modern life that we are not more often transported out of ourselves by the eternal things that surround us.

Consider the wind! One of the best tests you can apply to yourself as to whether you are lost to the primeval grandeur of the world, taking it all for granted, is to note your attitude to the arbitrary motions of the wind. Do you take the wind for granted? Do you only notice it at all if it is wildly furious, madly violent, bitterly freezing? Or, on the other hand, is the least breath of it upon your face like the touch of the remote Past? Do you never feel it without thinking what a miraculous phenomenon it is, this invisible and yet most living presence, as it moves over the city, over the land, over the sea? Nothing can excel the wind in awakening from the depths of our natures those far-away memories which seem to carry with them the very essence of life.

The potency of memory is that it winnows and purges reality of its grossness, of its dullness, of its poisonous hurtings. Memory seems to retain, in great hushed vases and urns, at the bottom of its being, essences that have the power of redeeming all. And the wind stirs up these essences until their fleeting perfumes mount to our heads and fill us with an indescribable transport.

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