In his classic biography Shelley - The Pursuit, Richard Holmes describes how the poet, aged 20, distributes subversive political views, with the help of miniature, hot-air balloons. He was living at the time with his wife, Harriet, in a cottage in Lynmouth, Devon. They cut up pieces of silk, from which they made the balloons, and suspended pamphlets beneath them, before launching them, complete with fire baskets, over the Bristol Channel. From the moment I read that, I was won over to Shelley, whom I had not previously fully appreciated. Now, I read in an article by Anne Wroe, author, of a new book on Shelley, descriptions of him staring into lakes, pools and puddles, enraptured by the relationship between the real and the reflected world, which makes me like him all the more. After several descriptions of the poet transfixed by such reflections, she quotes from Promethius Unbound:
"And thinning one bright bunch of amber berries
With quick long beaks, and in the deep there lay,
Those lovely forms imaged as in the sky".
She quotes him again asking from Pisa:
"Why is the reflexion in that canal far more beautiful than the object it reflects. The colours are more vivid, & yet blended with more harmony & the openings from within the soft & tender colours of the distant wood & the intersection of the mountain line surpass & misrepresent truth".
Plants such as ferns and broad leaved trees flourish in the humid atmosphere where rain is followed by sun. They release powerful scents; oils and resins infuse the air. I walk out after a heavy shower among dripping plants as if in a jungle.
On the Common, I see a person asleep on a bench sheltered by a canopy of branches. Birds are singing. The sound of traffic is distant. There are worse places to be asleep.