The Child Across Time – a fragment of autobiography
I have never felt the compulsion to write all that has happened to me through life. I had to be told I must. Now at the peak of 75 years, looking back, I can see almost photographically and with sentiment all the memories of times past in review in the eye of my mind, some happy and some pleasant, some sad and bad, and nearly all glad to be relegated to my past-present, which enables me to think that some of them have been instrumental, most assuredly, in forming my present-future. I look forward, then, to a future which I already taste and savour as an alluring possibility in store, awaiting its time, the whistle or the gun which will start it on its, God knows how many metres, dash across time.
Nothing has been slow; leisurely often, but even then fast, the right length of time-span to scent the lovely taste of its duration, grateful when over, as it removes its own iron-hold and sensitive strain of extreme pleasure or the deserved quantity of its merit with its pain.
In a way, I am Swinburnian. Pleasure seems to be often the alluring, enticing, leaven of pain. But again, with him, I find that, not one's entire life, but the lives of one's life-long episodes of life 'endure' only 'for a span' - and again I carry my concordance with him to the belief in the 'Holy Spirit of Man', as solace and an aim within reach before death do us part this world and we enter life eternal. The Perfectibility of Man seems that promise in which hope and comfort, not only psychological but as a true practical possibility, draws one on, helping one round the asperities of life and living till that day when, like that 'weariest river', one 'winds somewhere safe to sea'.
One's life seems to follow an anthological pattern of varied vibrations corresponding not to one central leit-motif but to many chords and dischords, finalising into a harmony which is one's own theme and, at the end, to one's own particular 'swansong'.
I have always wanted to end, not in slow expiation and demise like an echo fading after a repetitious resounding into no consequential response, but rather to come to a deliberate stop, not induced but culminatingly decisive, and then to expire with a true and willing giving up of a relative state depending on the availability of oxygen, with a not-too-sustained aspirant, elegant and eloquent in its deliberate exhalation, like a romantic adieu softly but audibly tracing its sound into a slightly drawn Hû.
If I had thought that all my life had been spent in a faded sepia picture-book quietude, I would have rebelled for life, and a constant, imperative, compulsive ebb and tide of blood in the arteries of my past days.
This is an extract from a longer article in Addresses II. For more details see the Bibliography.
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