by Aidan Andrew Dun

Climbing volcanic Teide in the Canaries I first experienced the effect of ascending through the cloudbase to see waves of stratus breaking against the side of the mountain in slow-motion like combers breaking on a seashore. A crazy mountain-road went snaking through gloomy mist-drenched pinewoods, then suddenly you burst out into supernatural sunshine with waves of the cloud-sea below lapping the mountainside. This glimpse of a ‘higher’ reality was co-opted in the writing of Colorado; which perhaps carries some faint echoes of Goethe’s Prologue to Faust. The setting of the poem to music is something I’m vaguely happy with.

A coastline surrounded by blue sky;
where the sea should be, cloud-surf
driving over an enormous air-space,
breaking on walls of white vapour.

A vast marble flight of cloud-steps,
a floating stairway, each step up
a cliff-face of white architecture. Ah,
the wind here sings so harmoniously!

Syllables like thunderclaps; many
storm-winds of a glorious language.
Look up, the sun-like faces, look:
those who stand on the companionway.

Vox angeli, tides in the sky,
the truth behind the atmosphere.
Huge breaths governing weather-maps.
What do these swirling voices say?

Hazard is the curse of every world,
the only evil, more than sufficient.
A man goes a thousand miles to die;
here in his hand is the golden mean.

This is the way. A magnificent cyclone
sweeps across the monochrome earth.
Those who work and sing in Colorado
sing from creation-morning to judgment day.

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