Sunday, August 1, 2010

The lady leads the plunge

Favoured, again, by a reader whose gift for clarifying one's own thoughts is in inverse proportion to the age of this blog, the posting on Vigo resulted in one's being drawn into not one but two deferred projects I let slip under that heading. Partisans of the submersive experience will understand the seductive effect of any undertow, without plodding elucidation here, but they will also sympathise with that resistance without which some other projects, such as lunch, might not be fulfilled. For now, then, I greet the temptation to digress in, I hope, the spirit in which it was offered, by quotation of another lady's indulgence of a riparian dip along the lines contemplated by Kenneth Grahame, in that culinary masterpiece to which she made reference. We are fortunate, I think, to suspend our chores to take the nourishment of evolved imagery in English prose, particularly when inspired by a lady's swim.

I am not in the athletic sense a keen swimmer, but I am a devoted one. On hot days in the Oxford summer my husband and I usually manage to slip into the Thames a mile or two above Oxford, where the hay in the water meadows is still owned and cut on the medieval strip system. The art is to draw no attention to oneself but to cruise quietly by the reeds like a water rat: seeing and unseen from that angle, one can hear the sedge warblers’ mysterious little melodies, and sometimes a cuckoo flies cuckooing over our heads, or a kingfisher flashes past. Very poetical. And how much more so than a swimming pool, which is just a machine for exercising in. 

Iris Murdoch, The New York Review of Books, March 4, 1993

1 comment:

  1. I can clearly see this devoted swimmer gliding through nature. Very poetical-as is the seductive effect of the undertow, regardless if the writer be a scoundrel. pgt