The Wrestlers

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Quantock dancers

Quantock dancers

Relationships, persons and childhood memories are teachers and things of beauty – a  treasure that goes higher and deeper than any mainstream art collection.  They remind me to handle life, each detail, tenderly.

This letter from my father today, enclosing photo cutting:  he was 90 earlier this month –  another mountain goat …

“Herewith the Wrestlers.  I had forgotten how much I loved this on the wall;  I suppose I lived with it a very long time both at Manor Farm and at Pitt, and it was well hung both places.  This is rather a good photograph showing the relief very clearly, and those three wonderfully related lines of the shoulders and head of the upper man.

wrestlers

“Thinking of speaking of Buddhism with you last night, of course discovering it while we were in Cornwall and Limpsfield was my first intimation of another reality beyond or within the mud and tears, and so was very exciting.  I grew up of course as an R.C., becoming disillusioned as a teenager, into a totally uninterested agnostic through the War.

“It was talking with Louis Adene in Mevagissy, and hearing about Gurdjieff and Ouspensky that awakened me to another possibility, and I automatically joined the Buddhists in London, and then the thunder-clap of Krishnamurti.  That became the real sign-post, and so these last years I wade about listening to all sorts of voices, but always as much as I can, just paying attention – allowing attention to be – on what is happening now. 

“Yesterday was a fine cold winter’s day.  Today it is cold raining, and all the gutters rattling.  I have just been reading about the vast energies positive and negative of the Universe which cancel each other out, so that in fact nothing is happening !

“With love”

my father at Pitt

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When I was 6 we lived in Cornwall near Caerhays, where I fell deeply in love with flowers and jewels.  My father was managing a farm which belonged to a teutonic tyrant called Mr Strauss.  We had to move after two years, because Mr Strauss wanted to cut down all the trees.  My father climbed to the top of a beautiful oak and sat there defiantly.  Nowadays there are more trees in southern Cornwall than ever before.

Herbert Read (whom my parents knew when we were living on the North Yorkshire moors) introduced him to a circle of Cornish artists, poets and free thinkers – Lionel Miskin (his oldest friend), Louis Adene (who lived in a wood near Gorran Haven), the Fussels and Derek Savage.   At the same time, he discussed Buddhism with my maternal grandmother in their letters.  My mother thought it was rather droll – but at least it made him happier.  As a young man, he was shell shocked from the War, very passionate, and of uncertain temper.   Probably he suffered from traumatic stress, which no one recognised in those days.  He stoically brought up his family, farmed – he was a pioneer in the return to organic farming – played the violin, and wrestled his spiritual path.   We moved house six times before I was ten, and in each house a “monastery” was set aside with a rolled up blanket for him to sit quietly.

When my father was 70 he caught a dangerous illness from swimming in a French river.  As he convalesced, each breath came to him as a jewel, a mystery beyond knowledge.   Since that time of nearly dying, he is much more serene.  The pressure of trying to be “enlightened” now, once and for all, fell away.  He didn’t call it “enlightenment”, and I don’t  like that word, either.  He called it “to be a human”, and still does.

My mother’s father, Jim Ede, gave us a cast of Gaudier’s The Wrestlers.  It weighed a ton and used to hang above my parents’ bed like a guardian angel.  I grew up with it, and it influenced my drawing.  Last year it was sold, and is now on its travels.  The photo above was taken at an exhibition “1913: the Shape of Time” at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, where it is on show until 17 February.

Here are The Wrestlers in my father’s old house:

wrestlers 1

His letter trips a wave and starts a wing!  Before Cornwall, we lived on a large sheep farm in Bransdale on the Yorkshire moors.

Breck Farm, Bransdale

Breck Farm, Bransdale

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14  breck photos 5

Mrs Coseira (with me and my sister) was a Polish woman who came in to help my mother. She was very pious, and she couldn’t bear to look at the Wrestlers, and always averted her eyes when she went in my parents’ room.   The donkey was called Daniel.  He had a job at Scarborough by the sea, and he was having a holiday with us, from all his hard work during the summer.  I remember the warm smell of the sack my mother tied round his middle for us to ride, and the deep crunch of the snow;  and my sister’s “hattacoatatrousers”.

In Bransdale I began to draw.  My mother made big drawing books out of cheap lining paper, unrolling, folding, cutting and stitching them with coloured darning wool.  As fast as she made them, I filled them, drawing for up to eight hours a day.  She said we would need a second removals van to carry them all, but she kept the three best books, and I have them still.  Here are a few favourites:

Gallery of Bransdale drawings, 1954

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"The Friends", circa 1957

“The Friends”, circa 1957

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… and a Cornish garden.  We moved from Yorkshire (which was very remote) to Cornwall because I had to go to school;  and there in Redruth my brother was born.  In those days, the china-clay-pit pyramids glistened along the spine of Cornwall like an alpine range, constantly changing with the light.

Cornish garden, 1955

Cornish garden, 1955

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my father with Bartok. 1950

my father with Bartok. 1948

Tangier 1951

Tangier 1951

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Finally, my two favourite alchemical engravings from Alexander Roob’s Alchemy & Mysticism.   Hermes is coming through the Great Sea, carrying carefully the world and the serpents;  he is the quicksilver, and the little cubes hidden in every part of nature are the golden prittvi, ineffable treasure in each atom of the earth of life.

The divine mercurial water, by Baro Urbigerus, Hamburg 1705

The divine mercurial water, by Baro Urbigerus, Hamburg 1705

The source material for the lapis can be found everywhere: in the earth, on the mountains, in the air and in the nourishing water. M.Maier, Atlalanta fugiens, Oppenheim 1618

The source material for the lapis can be found everywhere: in the earth, on the mountains, in the air and in the nourishing water. M.Maier, Atlalanta fugiens, Oppenheim 1618

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And …

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The Key:  Hermes heals

The Key: Hermes heals the born child  1987

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Hermes healing the interior black dragon 1987

Hermes healing the interior black dragon 1987

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dancers, 1987

dancers, 1987

Who are the Wrestlers?

Jacob’s angel meets us on the ladder, the Tree of Life.

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It is the following day:  I have to add a bit more, because my father tends to drop timely messages in my box..  When I rang him just now to thank him for sending the Wrestlers photo, he said, “Listen to this.  Last night I was told – I had to get out of bed and find my glasses and go to my desk and write it down – I was told by a Voice, very clearly – I am … You are … a particle-ar expressing of the Universal energy.  There is no separation.”

Then he reminded me, he joined a London buddhist Sangha back in 1957 or so, when we were living in Surrey.  He went to the Sangha leader, tense with questions about enlightenment and how to live.  The Sangha leader had a little room with nothing in it at all. He sat in his robe, looked up and said, “The Past is Over.  The Future has not come yet.  The Present is Now.  DO NOT WASTE IT”.

It aligns with the way the light leads through to Light, this year.   It is unmistakable – but we have to work at noticing it.

Here’s a photo of him with my mother, taken in the Lake District about 15 years ago:

mary & peter

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**

My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

 

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

7 thoughts on “The Wrestlers

    • Rich mix of light and dark elements, quite gritty, often difficult, but with some marvellous landscapes yes. My mother and father were exactly what I needed to grow, problems and all.

  1. Lovely childhood memories capped with a title which enriches the theme of the script ! Beautifully written. Each step expanding the first striking sentence “Relationships, persons and childhood memories are things of beauty”. The pic of the house reminded me of The Bronte house. Thanks Jane xx

    • It was many miles from anywhere, in the high moors, near a brook. We had an old wooden car tied together with bits of string, which kept breaking down. The winters were ferocious and in the spring the harebells came out!

  2. In the Treasure wood
    are silver beech and golden oak.
    Violin and cello, half quartet
    sawing Rasumovsky* back and forth,
    they carried on their backs the wood for the kitchen oven
    to warm unmothered lambs inside.

    Decoding “In Parenthesis” by David Jones
    they reared brats, shut up the hens,
    fed men and braying beasts,
    dug garden, quarrelled, hurt their backs and
    bashed their hands, picked
    primroses, brewed marmalade and
    drove to the winter sea for Christmas.

    In their wood
    with Eliot and Dylan Thomas,
    Krishnamurti’s “pathless land”
    rained
    abundantly.

    *Beethoven’s Rasumovsky No 1 quartet – their practice ground after our bedtime

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