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Thursday, 5 February 2009


What are ghosts? Restless spirits, unwilling to leave the earth and lingering between this and another level of life? Images imprinted on a particular place and playing back, like a video tape, through the ages? Or just figments of imagination of 'fevered brains'?
Throughout history, there have been far too many mentions of ghosts for them to be the last on that list, but I think, too, there is another explanation.
We are all surely more than our physical bodies or even our personalities. Sometimes it seems that the mind can spiral so far into other realms - it comes to some in music, to some in poetry, to some in love or moments of awe - there is far more to us all than meets the eye. We feel it and sense it in moments and afterwards dismiss it as 'a feeling' but there is that sense in all of us, I am sure. Often we suppress it or deny it because centuries of trying to measure it or explain it in scientific or intellectual terms is impossible and so often, what we cannot explain, we fear.
There are recorded accounts of bilocation. There are recorded accounts of people performing feats, which seem beyond human capacity, and we either think, "No, that's just wishful thinking," or, "I don't believe it," because it is frightening to realize the extent of who we really are and what is in us.
So...ghosts, I think, need not be people of the past, or people of the future. Only in our limited vision do we see time. As a physical footstep makes an image in sand or snow, perhaps our 'spiritual' footprint leaves images too, and now and again other people glimpse them. There is far more to everything than meets the eye, and we are all far bigger than we know.
In A.E. Housman's poem, "Far In A Western Brookland" there is the sense of that 'haunting' but, in this case, he is not being haunted - he is the living ghost.

Far in a western brookland
That bred me long ago
The poplars stand and tremble
By pools I used to know.

There, in the windless night-time,
The wanderer, marvelling why,
Halts on the bridge to hearken
How soft the poplars sigh.

He hears: no more remembered
In fields where I was known,
Here I lie down in London
And turn to rest alone.

There, by the starlit fences,
The wanderer halts and hears
My soul that lingers sighing
About the glimmering weirs.

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