The Fingers of the Storm

Adventures-of-Algy-211017.jpg

Algy flew over to a low rock, to escape the incoming tide, and gazed up at the sky. The storm clouds seemed to be reaching down towards him with many dark, wispy fingers, as though they wanted to snatch him up and carry him away. Clutching the rock tightly, he wondered whether it might be safer to retreat inland until the storm had passed…

Algy hopes that if you are threatened by storms this weekend, you will be able to find a safe place to shelter until the skies clear again 🙂

The Great Sea Loch

Adventures-of-Algy-191017.jpg

The weather was wild and unpredictable, and Algy had flown inland to escape the worst of the coming storm. As he approached the great sea loch he was caught by a sudden gust of wind and swept across the water to the further side. Landing on a slippery pebble beach strewn with seaweed, he perched uncomfortably on the damp stones and gazed at the moody water and the threatening sky. The great loch was behaving as though it were the ocean, with waves crashing on its shores, and he wondered how much more violent the breakers might be on his own beach, which faced the open sea…

Des Menschen Seele Gleicht dem Wasser

Adventures-of-Algy-220217.jpg

Algy flew down to the Sound and perched in a gorse bush already covered in February gold. It was a stormy day, with rapidly alternating phases of darkness and light, and many heavy showers were sweeping in along the Sound from the open ocean. Algy was thinking of some of his friends, who were threatened by dark storm clouds in their own lives, and as he watched the next wave of clouds approach he sang one of his favourite “songs” for them:

Des Menschen Seele
Gleicht dem Wasser:
Vom Himmel kommt es,
Zum Himmel steigt es,
Und wieder nieder
Ewig wechselnd

The human soul
is like water:
it comes from heaven,
it rises to heaven,
and again it must descend to earth
in an eternal alternation.

Listen to this beautiful recording of Gesang der Geister über den Wassern in a setting by Schubert, performed by the Vienna Vocalists and the String Ensemble of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

[Algy is singing part of Gesang der Geister über den Wassern (The Song of the Spirit over the Waters) by the late 18th/early 19th century German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. You can read the full text of the poem in German and English, but Algy feels that the English translation given there does not do full justice to the original.]

There were storm clouds brewing overhead at the start of the week in which the people of Scotland will vote in a historic referendum to decide whether or not Scotland will become an independent state.

Algy flew down to the peat bogs, beneath the heavy sky, and erected his wee Saltire on a prominent tussock. As he gazed at the gathering clouds, he wondered what the future would hold for all his friends in Scotland, and he remembered a famous poem:

          What makes a nation’s pillars high
          And its foundations strong?
          What makes it mighty to defy
          The foes that round it throng?

          It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
          Go down in battle shock;
          Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
          Not on abiding rock.

          Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
          Of empires passed away;
          The blood has turned their stones to rust,
          Their glory to decay.

          And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
          Has seemed to nations sweet;
          But God has struck its luster down
          In ashes at his feet.

          Not gold but only men can make
          A people great and strong;
          Men who for truth and honor’s sake
          Stand fast and suffer long.

          Brave men who work while others sleep,
          Who dare while others fly…
          They build a nation’s pillars deep
          And lift them to the sky.

[Algy is quoting the poem A Nation’s Strength by the 19th century American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson.]