Out and about


This is not the contented solitude
Of my deep woods, quiet lanes, familiar fields.
Out there, alone, I have no time to brood:
My mind’s too occupied. Truth is revealed
When all the clamour of the world’s shut out,
With breeze and birdsong all that I can hear;
The earth beneath my boots dispels all doubt,
While under ageless oaks I know no fear.
No, this is different. This is being lost
And lonely, wondering how the hell I came
To be here, at this time, and at what cost –
And wishing there was someone else to blame.
For now there’s work to do. I’ll hold on tight
Until I take that homeward road tonight.

19 thoughts on “Out and about

  1. A fabulous poem Nick!
    It made me quite sad while I was reading it, but there was hope in it too, in the lines “The earth beneath my boots dispels all doubts”.

    You will soon be back to get succour from where you love to be the most 🙂

    Christine xx

    • I guess this is a rather melancholy piece, Christine – but then you should have seen where I wrote it: in a dingy little cafe at 8.00am in a nowhere town near Portsmouth, where I was killing an hour before a meeting to go through a 400-page document line by line…but I’m glad you found a little chink of light in it too; the day did get a lot better! It was long one, though, and I was very glad to be home that night. N.xx

  2. Hi Nick,
    Again so much depth in pentameters!
    The feel of being lost, and so much to do. That sounds like stress!
    I do hope it was just the location in the woods where you were lost! (there are apps these days that can take you home I think lol)

    😉 x

    • Thank you Ina – it was quite a stressful day. Whenever I go out for meetings or whatever, I find myself wondering ‘what AM I doing here?’ before it begins; happily, though, it usually turns out OK. And I’m pleased to say yesterday was no exception and we got a lot done. Today’s pretty lousy, though! N.xx

      • Definitely feeling Friday-ish. The weather is lovely here today (it’s been raining all week!) and I’m stuck inside, working on a job that I was expecting to be sent nearly two weeks ago – and, of course, it’s now even more urgent! Typical! Hope you find yourself caught up and swept away in the creative flow soon! N.xx

    • Thank you, John – the pic was (probably highly illegal) snapshot through the car windscreen with my phone camera on the way home yesterday; unfortunately it didn’t properly capture the incredible contrast between the thundery sky and the rape fields, but yes, it did sum up the mood pretty well! N.

  3. A melancholy but beautiful sonnet, Nick – I could feel your longing to be out in the open with nature and all the wonders it offers. Very nicely done, I love this. ~ Julie 🙂

    • Thank you Julie – I wrote this piece in a cafe early yesterday morning (following a VERY early start!) and I’m pleased to say the day picked up somewhat! I was still very glad to be home, though! N.x

  4. Nick, what strikes me about the sonnet is not the sonnet, but the rejection of the modern world with all of its demands on time, movement (both on the road, as in the photograph) and electronically, the nervous system as you get up early and hurry to a meeting so that you can sit in a dinghy restaurant, waiting for the work to start, and the idea that this world is not really home to humanity, but an alien, difficult-to-deal-with reality.
    What you are really saying is that
    The earth beneath my boots dispels all doubt,
    While under ageless oaks I know no fear.
    When we are connecting to the earth we are home and where we ought to be. We are only lost when we enter into the artificial world mankind has created for itself.
    These are simple, but deceptively simple. As I’ve thought about this sonnet, I’ve found that it’s subtle social commentary (such as Ethel often writes), a devastating critique of the modern world while presenting another way, the homeward road, where human and nature are not made of doubt and angst, but are part of the
    …contented solitude
    Of my deep woods, quiet lanes, familiar fields.

    • As always, there’s so much to encourage, inspire and reassure in your wise, beautifully considered words, Tom. I often have a strong sense of unreality when I go out to meetings or to work in clients’ offices: what am I doing here? How did I get here? What is all this FOR? I sometimes wonder if I’m the only who thinks this way, that I’m somehow missing the internal wiring or extra layer of skin that lets others just ‘get on with it’. But your observation that ‘we are only lost when we enter into the artifiical world mankind has created for itself’ hits the nail right on the head; that’s exactly how it seems to me. And while I’ve never asked anyone to agree with me, it’s immensely reassuring to know that someone else at least understands where I’m coming from! Thank you so much, my friend. N.

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