Thursday, 28 January 2010

Parliament Hill

"Nothing to do but watch the clouds go sailing by. Thinking of you. See you walking in my mind. All the doubts are left behind in the sunshine. If you come to Parliament Hill ..." sings Chris Simpson on Magna Carta's gorgeous Parliament Hill from the 1971 LP Songs From Wasties Orchard. It's a lovely slice of folk rock/soft pop all about finding escape and sanctuary, with the distinctive bass sound of Danny Thompson. It certainly bears comparison with the best US sounds in this area. I mean the folk rock area, rather than the south east corner of Hampstead Heath which is Parliament Hill Fields. It's a green part of London that's inspired two very different and well-known poems. There's John Betjemen's with his children carrying dandelions to Kentish Town, and there's the rather later Sylvia Plath one that also mentions Kentish Town. Is it just a phase we go through with Sylvia Plath? I don't think so. Some of her words still mean the world to me. This passage particularly from notes written in Cambridge, February 1956 still sums up life for me: “What I fear most, I think, is the death of the imagination. When the sky outside is merely pink, and the rooftops merely black: that photographic mind which paradoxically tells the truth, but the worthless truth, about the world. It is that synthesizing spirit, that ‘shaping’ force which prolifically sprouts and makes up its own worlds with more inventiveness than God which I desire. If I sit still and don’t do anything, the world goes on beating like a slack drum, without meaning. We must be moving, working, making dreams to run towards; the poverty of life without dreams is too horrible to imagine: it is that kind of madness which is worst.”

1 comment:

  1. Still love that quote - thanks for bringing it to mind again.