A Portentous Prologue

Of atoms and void the poet did sing, of the eternal and the infinite, of first beginnings and final endings, and the wondrous brief lightning flash of consciousness in between twin darkness. For such lofty subjects only the most sublime of songs would suffice, and so it was the labour of his life to craft verses of deep purport and high refrain. But on certain days, on certain afternoons in fact, when lunch had been particularly satisfying – figs perfectly ripe, olives ideally bitter, sticky blood-red wine unimpeachably sweet – when the temperature and the light and the air were in a mystical state of just so-ness, when all nature round and about and above and below colluded to bring the world into harmony with the multitudinous currents of his mind, then his thoughts would wander from the metaphysic to the mundane, delighting ever in detours, the more inconsequential the better. On those all-too-rare just-so afternoons he was not the immortal bard whose verses were destined to shatter ignorant certainties in aeons yet to come, he was just an ordinary man in almost all the ways that any one of us might be said to be ordinary on such an afternoon after such an extraordinarily delightful lunch; on these occasions we too might apply a poetical predilection for idleness with similar zeal, and give ourselves just as wholeheartedly to what some might grandly term introspection but he modestly confessed to be mere daydreaming. Perhaps we too, given a perfect concurrence of similar circumstances – food, wine, weather, setting, solitude – might hope to rise as high as he descended then, to meet him as equals somewhere in between. Perhaps, indeed, any one of us may partake of the nature of poet or philosopher at any time, if the fates allow. Nor would he have disdained our company in any case, for friends were always dear to him. But on this particularly glorious afternoon he was gloriously alone, free to while away the hours in the garden until at last cool airs from the sea whispered an end to philosophical solitude and wafted in the conviviality of companionship and dinner.

[Go to Chapter 1, Part 1]

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