Today, as I was driving home from dropping the children at school, the sun was streaming through the car windows. It was warm and smelling of Spring and I was playing the music very loud in the car. As I passed the local small airport, I could see a herd of goats grazing in some wasteland and was struck by the anachronism of the modern airport building in counterpoint with the herd of goats that seemed to speak of a bygone age.
When I’m in my garden, I sometimes hear the goat bells as they trundle their way around the local area and for some reason, the sound has a very romantic association for me, especially as I rarely see the elusive goats but just hear their bells and sometimes pattering feet.
For me, the bells evoke Christmas and wise men visiting with presents, a time for new hope and joyous family celebration, peace on earth and goodwill to all men. Or otherwise a visiting circus, the magical kind with men in leotards performing high wire feats beyond the imagination and flying women lifting elephants into the sky.
Or the bells could be a chariot, drawn by unicorns and carrying elves bringing the most delicious food one could ever hope for and chocolate and cakes and not an evil white witch in sight.
So, it was a glorious romantic moment for me to actually see the goats, albeit in a patch of wasteland by the airport. It didn’t really matter that I couldn’t hear the bells because my music was too loud, just seeing them was enough, on a lovely sunny day, to bring all the romance into the car with me.
In the moment that they caught my eye, I also saw a goatherd, complete with stick, just to complete the picture of modern pastoral life…but then I saw what looked like a man with a big camera and the cynic popped up in my head with the idea that the goatherd and the goats were all an elaborate photoshoot for a magazine… very bizarre.
I stifled the cynic because the goat bells just bring out the music in my soul every time and I feel that they are a piece of poetry in my life, a moment of aural pleasure to be cherished and wondered at.
This brings me to the title of this week’s blog, because this week it was announced that those words have been chosen to adorn the Olympic village for the London 2012 Olympics and that they will remain as part of the area regenerated afterwards.
I love the idea of poetry around the Olympics, stimulating cultural energy as well as all the positive physical energy that will abound in London in the planning and preparation and the actual Olympic Games.
And what is poetry? Well for me, poetry is that moment, that sound and image that conjures up a million ideas and joys and losses and memories. Poetry is words making pictures and sounds in your head; it’s the sharing of ideas between people and across hundreds of years to create a moment of shared humanity. It’s the man crossing the line with his arms in the air after flying that seemingly tiny distance between gun and line. It’s the woman throwing that javelin with a triumphant yell and a smile of satisfaction as it hits the turf. It’s the person in the wheelchair reaching for the stars with the bow and arrow. It’s the crowd and the overexcited commentator and the teams and the triumphs and the glory and the tears.
And today? Today it was the goatherd and his flock outside a rural airport in sunny Spain waiting to get their photo taken while the woman in the car driving by smiles happily to herself.
There are web links below if you’d like more information about poetry and the Olympics. The lines are taken from Ulysses by Tennyson.