may day and a man
May 1, 2013
Today, May 1st, a walk beckoned to loosen up stiff limbs from days sitting in cars, sitting at desks, sitting doing drawings on screen, sitting . . . although a session of stretching in a yoga class was helpful last night. A walk to the The Long Man at Wilmington was an attractive idea that quickly evolved into a necessity. This man is a landmark clearly visible from the road and the train that connects Eastbourne to Brighton. He’s also called the Giant and the Green Man and, is thought to be from the Iron Age or neolithic period, but is most likely 16th or 17th C. On the journey from the village to the point where the visitor can climb up gradually to his feet, he plays the game of hiding and then being revealed.
Eric Ravilious painted this view in water colours at the start of the 2nd war. Interesting to read his fascination with chalk figures.
At 70m in length, so the height of 40 men, but with no visible baggage. Is he a eunuch? I’m afraid I got a little bored with him especially on discovering that he isn’t made from chalk at all but from concrete blocks . . . . and turned to look about to the surrounding views but thought how lucky he is to see these views all of the time.
Stunning wind swept hawthorns litter the Downs here and reminded me of a painting by Harold Mockford, ‘Asleep on the Downs’, which is the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning.
Primroses and wild violets carpet the tufty grassy surface we walk on and skylarks swoop in pairs above our heads . . .
. . . . towards Newhaven, where Harold lives, a rather interesting pincer movement of landscape features swirl around the rising land and, just turning to Birling Gap, the White Horse becomes visible.
Tumuli and chalk pits provide the ups and the downs of this landscape occupied by the ‘locals’ .
Before the crops fully vegetate, the strong echoing lines of the machine rolling over the landscape are still visible . . . .
. . chalk and flint, the indigenous materials of The Sussex Downs.
When I walk up on the downs
I think of things you nearly said.
Skylarks broke through the cloudless skies,
bristly oxtongue snared my boots.
I’m sorry that I went away.
In the grass which we had flattened
purple clover kissed wild thyme.
I looked at you. You had not spoken
chalk and wind and sea blown words.
Untroubled plantain gazed at us,
salad burnet, hurt, eyebright.
We could make it work this time.
Only mouse-ears heard the things,
high on the downs, you early said. Pam Hughes. Whispers