In Denise Levertov's "The Instant", the speaker and her mother go out mushrooming in the morning mist, which hides the sun and their surroundings: "clouds about our knees, tendrils / of clouds in our hair." But then comes the instant when the mist "suddenly" lifts, and the mother exclaims: "It's Snowdon, fifty / miles away!" The sudden visionary moment is a standard moment in poetry, but this instant does not leave the speaker with metaphysical insight but with the physical image and the experience of seeing both in the instant and in unforgettable memory: "Light / graces the mountainhead / for a lifetime's look, before the mist / draws in again." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 22 August)
Denise Levertov, Overland to the Islands
'We'll go out before breakfast, and get
some mushrooms,' says my mother.
Early, early: the sun
risen, but hidden in mist
the square house left behind
sleeping, filled with sleepers;
up the dewy hill, quietly, with baskets.
Mushrooms firm, cold;
tussocks of dark grass, gleam of webs,
turf soft and cropped. Quiet and early. And no valley,
no hills: clouds about our knees, tendrils
of cloud in our hair. Wet scrags
of wool caught in barbed wire, gorse
looming, without scent.
Then ah! suddenly
the lifting of it, the mist rolls
quickly away, and far, far –
'Look!' she grips me, 'It is
It's Snowdon, fifty
miles away!' – the voice
a wave rising to Eryri,
of eagles, resting place of
Merlin, core of Wales.
graces the mountainhead
for a lifetime's look, before the mist
draws in again.