A Dance – An Image Inspired by Blake

By Kevin du Plessis

 

A boy there was who lay flat on his back on a small patch of unkempt grass in full view of the canopy of a tree stretching across a view of what would have been a clear blue sky at midday. He had come out of the heat to lie in the cool shade when at once he noticed that there were a thousand suns dancing in the sky, constantly peeking from behind the leaves fluttering in the wind.

They moved to the rhythm of the air’s slight whistle casting specs of their light over his face and the earth surrounding him. This image was not something wholly peculiar or strange to him but he had never quite seen it like this, in the perfect moment, it seemed.

The boy did not feel any immediate urge to get up from his resting place, so there he lay soaking in through his skin what his eyes saw around him. He was at once content and at peace with all of his worries out there far away from his tree in the field.

It felt like he was experiencing the beauty of nature for the very first time, like he had been looking with blind eyes at the world and for the first time he could experience something that was beyond his understanding except for one aspect which was his comprehension of it being true and good.

Firstly, he tried to take it all in so as to never forget his experience there, gradually, he thought of ways that he could capture the moment’s essence so as to share it with others, and finally, unable to think of a single way to accomplish any of these aspirations, he resolved never to get up and leave behind what he had found.

The day wore on as he dipped in and out of sleep and every time he opened his eyes there they were, the fairies or spirits or saints in an everlasting dance with the green leaves of the tree. The shadows of the host of dancers grew longer and longer as the day threatened to come to an end.

Of course, as he knew, night would eventually come and the ball would be over only to retake the celebration the next day. But even with this knowledge he was resolved not to get up in fear of losing forever the bliss of what he had taken so long to see clearly. A vanilla twilight stretched over the world, followed by an opal light veiled with a tinge of the colour of the night. Slowly stars started popping up in places and they also peeked through the holes of sky left by the now resting leaves. These lights were cooler than the sprites he had been watching all day, it was as if the entities he had been admiring retreated behind the horizon and then spread themselves all over the universe where they slept far away in their own beds, resting, as the moon watched over the world in their absence.

He fell asleep, dreaming of what he had seen. In this dream he could see beyond the light of the sun’s faces and he could make out their features. “Angelic,” he thought, but no, that word was not enough. He went through every word he had ever heard but not one could describe what he saw. He tried combinations of words made up in sentences, then paragraphs, then whole books full, but he could not succeed in his task. “Very well,” he said aloud to himself, “if not words then I shall have to recreate your image.” He imagined in his mind, if he were ever to capture a single one of these faces, how he would do it. Would he do it with pencils, or pastels, or paint? What technique would he use? Would it be fine and detailed or smeared over the surface so as to capture the spirit of their beauty? Again, not one of his considerations would do and he resolved that it was impossible. If he were a musician, what instrument? Strings or horns or percussion? But, not a sound that he had ever heard could describe their faces.

Slowly his dream flipped over onto its side and what it revealed from beneath its blanket of bliss was the backside of a nightmare. All of the feelings that his emotions were able to capture but he was not, now turned into anguish and fear and loneliness until the light around him turned to a hot red glow that pierced his eyes.

With a start he came back to consciousness and when he opened his eyes he saw that it was the sun, come back to wake him so as to not miss a new day of what it did within the space of where he lay on his patch of grass. It was once more dancing and to his relief he saw that he had not lost what he had discovered the previous day. He would still not get up. He would still not move. He would lay there another day and try with all of his might to find a way to interpret the sun and the leaves and the wind.

He had not been awake for long when came his brother from afar to find him, having noticed that he did not return from the fields. He had water with him so the boy drank a little. His brother lay with him on the grass for a while but could not stay all day so he left. By midday, when he had not moved from his spot for a whole twenty four hours, a girl that he knew passed by with a basket of apples. She saw him lying there and offered him one of her apples. He took one bite and set it aside, thanking her. She lay with him for a while but also had to leave after a time. Late afternoon, having heard from the boy’s brother where to find him, his friend came to him. He had with him neither drink nor food to offer, but he lay with the boy for the longest by far. They spoke a little from time to time and it seemed that something of the boy’s plight was shared and understood in this. However, as with his previous visitors, his friend could also not stay forever. So, they too had to greet each other and again he was alone.

He faced another night of dreams, another bad ending, and then another day under the tree. In time he stopped thinking of ways to make something of his encounter and simply lay there always looking up. The dreams faded leaving him with only his clear view and not much else.

It was days later that he was found. True to his resolve never to get up, he lay with his eyes open, no longer able to see a thing.

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