One of my favourite poems was penned by William Wordsworth – a true naturalist. The poem is titled “Expostulation and reply”. To expostulate means to reason with someone regarding an issue. The person speaking to him does not understand how William can sit idly in nature.
William is not being idle though. He spends time in nature to contemplate its immensity; to study it, to become closer to it, and to learn from it. William’s reply grants an insight into what it could feel like when we remember how to connect with nature.
Here is the first stanza from the original poem.
“WHY, William, on that old grey stone,
Thus for the length of half a day,
Why, William, sit you thus alone,
And dream your time away?”
That’s an excellent question. Why would anyone choose to fritter time away when there are so many things that need to completed on the To Do List. You may have noticed that this blog is named Autonomous Will. It was named after this William.
I have been rewriting this poem in my mind for the past 10 years, and want to share one version with you. The poem continues with William’s friend Matt urging him to get back to the real world.
“You stare at clouds, the sky so blue,
As if they held a secret.
Forgetting quick the night curfew,
And losing Self this evening.
Trapped in time, I see you still,
Come now; cease this nonsense.
Let go friend of this placid hill,
There’s naught but trees in forests.”
I looked my friend Matt look over quick,
And pondered my reply.
He paced in space, his gait was swift,
In motion, but confined.
“Your mind dear Matt has lost its shine;
A void with large opacity.
Come sit with me upon this rock,
And learn your great capacities.
In repose I sense, a minute spent
Gains you, a thousand lives.
A waste to most, few taste content,
Please listen, become wise.”
Furious Matt, retorted then,
“On this life you have no clue.
You waste the day, you hold a pen,
There are real jobs you should do.”
Fast forward now to present day,
Both Matt and I have grown,
We once had gone our separate ways,
Those journey’s led us home.
He saw me once more on this stone,
An old man sitting still,
A listless dread within his tone,
“Can I join you my friend Will?”
I said to Matt, “Of course you may,
This nature is our calling,
Just close your eyes and breathe away,
The pain that has you falling”
We sat in silence taking in,
The marvel of creation.
Matt’s eyes once dull from pain within,
Alight now with amazement.