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This report is taken from PN Review 236, Volume 43 Number 6, July - August 2017.

Journals
From the Journals of R.F. Langley
R.F. Langley
THE POET  R.F. LANGLEY (1938–2011) was also, privately, a prolific prose writer. Extracts from his journals, which he began in 1969, first appeared in PN Review in 2002. The notes to Langley’s Complete Poems, edited by Jeremy Noel-Tod, cite a number of unpublished journal entries that directly informed the writing of his verse.

AUGUST 1995

The Old Meeting House, Wash Lane, Wenhaston, Suffolk


VESPER FLIGHT OF SWIFTS

In the evening the bars are gone, the rims dissolved, the slow, wavering butterfly wings turned to flicker and flash and, some time unseen, a vertical vanishing ending in sleep so high eyes can’t reach up there… the air inside your body and bones equated with that you ride in – nothing to tap against or keep you down, or in… a complete opening up. To sleep with open eyes, moving fast and safely. The soul bird. And Psyche, butterfly-winged. Trapped or free. And the moment of the vertical lift up… I can tell already that I won’t see it, always the trees will be in the way. Richard Mabey assumes they gain altitude flying out of town in a gradual ascent… but, even so, someone must be beneath them when they reach a height to disappear. There is no mysterious border region where no-one is ever looking up, between all towns and villages. Have we proof that they do vanish up into the night sky? Well – they are nowhere else this week after 9pm. And Heathrow’s radar showed them as an ‘ethereal flickering halo ...


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