There is a path I often walk along in West Sussex which has a view of the hills beyond a gate I pass. The range of hills in the farthest distance is the South Downs along the south-eastern coast of Sussex. Last week the sun was setting as I made this journey with my children. I took this photo just where there is a brick pillar which, instead of a sundial, has a round metal plate giving the distances to landmarks across this landscape before the South Downs.
The view to me is such a quintessentially English landscape. With the glowing light from the descending sun it made be think of William Blake’s poem And did those feet in Ancient Time, now known as the lyrics in the hymn Jerusalem.
“And did those feet in ancient time, Walk upon England’s mountains green…
And did the Countenance Divine, Shine forth upon our clouded hills?”…
When I was writing this post I looked up the poem to make sure I wrote down the lines correctly. What did I find?! It’s believed that Blake was inspired by the South Downs when he wrote this poem as part of the preface to his epic poem Milton. He was based in West Sussex at the time. Needless to say I was taken aback…but pleasantly so.
The gate leads down some steps to a small country road. Straight across it is a wooden stile in a break in the hedgerow leading onto another public footpath.
But we stayed by the gate and watched the sky change.
And in this final photo of the hills beyond the gate, you can just see the tiny silhouette (in the right hand bottom corner) of my son gazing at this amazing English landscape. Soon I’m going to head across these hills, valleys and pastures green – by car – and take my two for a walk in the South Downs.
In my previous post you can see a black and white version of the gate.