Everyone has a secret place inside them where they feel most confident, where they are unassailable. Sometimes this is a place of dreams, without dimensions; sometimes it may be based on an actual place. I have always thought of my own inner refuge as an enhanced version of a real house. Certainly I do need a proper bricks-and-mortar property that I can call 'home', and I am not content or happy if I am without this. It needs to be my very own, and I need that exclusiveness so that my spirit can feel free.
Here is a poem that I wrote in August 1972 about such a house. The name of the house was 'Corrib'.
A white gate in a tunnel of green:
That's Corrib, my Jamaican house.
A shady lawn, old tennis courts,
The bleached bones of a boat, or a seat,
Overgrown in a garden:
This is Corrib, my evening retreat.
There is a sandy path
That whispers through trees;
A tunnel of memories, a darkening arch.
Under boughs and down to the dunes
I flash by waving grass,
Rustling bushes and staring flowers.
Heedless of the evening breeze,
I hasten past broken gates and posts,
Forgotten by years and sagging in decline;
I look for the lights of Corrib,
My solace, dark refuge mine.
I am its windows, I am its doors.
By my silence
Have ghosts gathered and brayed;
By my cry
Are spells of mockery made.
I have lingered in the sunset,
I have seen the scorched horizon.
The sun is indeed meat-eating;
That orb is indeed malignant, defeating.
From my citadel I can mock you too.
I am my freedom,
I am my reality,
I am you.
The path mentioned ran alongside the Trevose Golf Course down to Constantine Bay, near Trevose Head in Cornwall. Along the path were the back gates of houses, and Corrib was one of them. In the poem I describe Corrib as it was around 1970. By 1983 it had been greatly altered, perhaps pulled down and rebuilt, and the atmosphere that made it special for me had gone.
The name ‘Corrib’ is unusual, but a few years back I discovered that in Ireland there is a lake of that name. It still evokes memories of boats and sunsets and secret paths and silence and a kind of ecstacy.