It was uncommonly sultry and dark when I arrived at the Winchester water meadows. The scene was a
near stereotype, and it reminded me of those decrepit – far too embellished – landscapes you see in many
royal palaces. Dark canvases from wall to wall with a gaze rethought man by man to show a season
wrapped in a bouquet, flourish and polish, sultry pastoral happiness down to the darkness of the very
greens of the ancient cottage trees. You could imagine now where the grovelling artist would place those
midnight blue pillars, romanesque ruins to an otherwise normal landscape. It was in this state of mind in
which a variety of illusions came to me as I walked; down and down those far too trodden paths laden
with leaves. They formed small pools of water from the far too recent rain.

Light cast out through the trees refracting around the long shadows of the grass, knifelike beams of pure
light like dull office blinds. Bathed in light now the orange, yellow, red, fittered about in the air as it came
to account within the beams of the orange light, like a bonfire on a lonely heath surrounded by the
greenness of nature clinging onto remnants of summer. How they turn, and turn, and turn, softly as you
look out in the early morning past the thatch eve runs, into the silence of the lost songs of spring which
fill the air with the brisk sounds of leaves caught in amongst willowing wind. Every syllable speaks of
spring’s sadness demesne, as it turns and turns and turns. Now the noise emerges from the red shadows,
the red floor of the old forest comes alive as it forms: and turns, and moves, and forms, and sees, and shakes, and moves, and turns, and turns, and turns, sand dripping through the hourglass, the rotting fruit
of a Dutch still life, fortune and her wheel, orange-tinged and yellow air in the soft dying of the morning
mist which begins to lift. I continue to walk.

Finally the mist lifts and the blueness of the sky becomes visible. A moon on the horizon, water still,
mirrorlike, and clear. Above a noise descends, drooping and getting louder. Gathering swallows twist and
move, noise fills the air as they make their way through the trees, turning and forming as the light comes
together. But the shadow of melancholy still lurks in the depth of this garden. I wonder what John Keats
thought when he made this walk two hundred years ago. His season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
Looking up I imagined how the scene would look from below, through the midnight blue tree trunks and
the floor littered with a rosy hue, and how it turns, and turns, and turns, and turns. Immortalising that
perfect decrepit landscape.

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Illustration by Lizzie Daly.