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A god in ruins

Posted by Simon Parke, 28 September 2020, 10.22am

I am presently enjoying ‘A God in Ruins’ by Kate Atkinson. It is another masterclass in the novel art form from the author; but that is not why I am here.

The title is from a Ralph Waldo Emerson line – ‘A man is a god in ruins,’ which could, I suppose, sound negative, could sound a bit down, though not to my ears.

I am fond of ruins, sometimes better than the carefully-maintained originals. As I walk the site, here still is the shape and sense of everything that was; but also sky.

You don’t need every stone in place, every wall left standing, to sense past glory or hear the voices of those who travelled through.

If we listen, the present is so full of echoes; and imagination, a quick builder, restores instantly what was.

So if, today, I am a god in ruins, I take heart - for all is in place, the shape and the sense, the foundations of primitive sanity deep in my soil.

In days I could never have imagined, and in uncertain winds, I’m a ruin on solid ground, where ancient contours still hold me.

And every decision, a small restoration.

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