from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

a sense of wonder

It seems to me that a sense of wonder is a critical faculty in humans. I suspect it's especially crucial to keep that alive as we age: wonder is connected with vitality, imagination, creativity, meaning, and I believe wellbeing, too. And, of course, youthfulness.

It's harder to keep that flame alive in an age and a society that is immersed in scientific materialism with its bias towards the reductive and analytical; not to say cynical.

As it happens, I find much scientific discovery extremely inspiring – of my imagination and of wonder both – but we live in an age where reason and analytical understanding are valued above all else, and a sense of wonder is too often trashed as naïve superstition.

For me, a sense of wonder is sufficiently important to my inner life and its outward expression (often in my writing) to carry a separate small notebook around with me for catching those 'bright moments' that inspire wonder; whether that is the exact observation of the flickering of light on water, the fledgling swallows above the valley, a phrase I hear, an unexpected smile, an artefact like the ceramic camel from the Tang dynasty (1st millenium AD) which was the object on which I had to create a workshop for my interview for the Greenway residency, or, yesterday, a day lily appearing from the mass of greenery which I thought had smothered them all.

There's much to say about this, but since I have a chapter (and more) in my book WRITING THE BRIGHT MOMENT – inspiration & guidance for writers * on this subject, I'll leave that there.

What reminded me of the importance of a sense of wonder is how many of us went out, I see from my Twitter and Facebook feeds, to watch the Perseid shower the other night (in August we pass through the Perseid belt, which means many shooting stars enter our atmosphere). New information: I'm told that the Perseid showers happen when Earth hits a belt of debris left behind by a comet, the so-called Swift-Tuttle, on its 133-year elongated orbit around the sun.

I remember a night when my dad and I walked on my child hood beach one August; we counted 21 meteors in less than an hour.

I remember another night when my daughter and I were on the Land's End peninsula, and stopped the car to get out and lie on the roof falling upwards into the vastness of sky as stars streamed towards and around us. 

Magical moments, as was last Sunday evening as we, having eaten a late supper outside and caught by surprise as we'd forgotten the meteor showers, craned our heads back to watch the cosmic firework show – such vastness we're all part of.


The Lion stretches paws to the edges of the land, roars towards Orion. I so want to be drenched in starlight; imagine finding the timeless in the realm of time.

Must have been August, full moon, one night in Penwith we took the road that joins shore to moorland and drove through that downpour of falling stars – their lucence against the midnight blue a kind of covenant, a promise. Stop the car, you said, and we climbed and lay on its roof, toes towards the ocean, in a shower of light, shivered into brightness.

Those were the days before the dying started. There are benisons of pain as well as joy. 

I think how easily we forget to look up, remember where we come from, where home lies.

© Roselle Angwin

This poem appeared in DARK MOUNTAIN 4)

* I have a request here. Over and over people have told me how very much they've valued my Writing the Bright Moment book. It's been selling by word of mouth. And yet there are only two reviews on Amazon. Whatever we feel about Amazon, reviews really help writers. If you've read the book, and feel you have something to say about it – even if it's only one sentence – I'd be delighted if you'd consider a review.


  1. Anonymous said...
    Reading this, Roselle, is a beautiful way to start the writing day: the foraging for words, once found, held together but flowing freely, although a few knots and tangles do no harm.
    These late days of summer, by evening, I'm mesmerised by the silvery rippling of the topmost leaves on our spreading cherry tree, the sun at that crucial position when light and shade seem to lace fingers.
    But I've never seen the Perseids. One day, I must make an effort to keep awake and lie on my back in the garden or on the top of the nearest hill – Bredon – amongst the badgers.
    I love your prose poem, especially 'those were the days before the dying started'.
    Now, back to the foraging. Words are either slow or missing and not really flowing at the moment, but the sense of wonder is alive and well. Thank you, Roselle
    Miri x

  2. Thank you, Miri, for posting your own sense of wonder here. Some beautiful descriptions, and thank you too for writing that a few knots and tangles do no harm – what a useful reminder.

    With love



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