Clouds From Both Sides

I was reminded tonight of the fabulous Joni Mitchell Song

Both Sides Now

This line stuck, stuck hard in my throat, my head, in every little bit of me

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now

There’s an image I adore.

Looking up, canopied in mortal existence, trapped in the humdrum, greyed everyday, rained upon by life’s vicissitudes. It is easy

It is SO easy

to forget the great beyond, the richness, the infinite blue yonder while squeezed into the moment underneath.

The drag of clouds on anyone’s outlook, the constant, unremitting winter of morbid thoughts

It is SO EASY to be lost in that fog

To be jailed by self limiting perception.

Perception is so important.

In quantum mechanics, the Uncertainty Principle has it that the better you know the position of a particle, the less you know the speed it is travelling

And vica versa

But once you know both sides of the clouds, once you are up there, outwith the mediocre, the mundane, the daily toil

Once you know the other side of the clouds

Life is possible; life is not uncertain. Speed and position become one, become a continuum. They aren’t uncertain. This particle life, that’s uncertain. Life just is. But on the other side of the clouds it’s sun and sky and Moons and Junes; it’s whatever you want it to be. You just have to reach… REACH. No limits. The clouds are your base now, your starting off place, no more a prison that a launchpad. The freedom to be you, to be anyone, anything – that’s what the other side of the clouds permits. Demands. Go see the other side of the clouds. It’s wonderful up there.

This poem was written by a Spitfire pilot – an American, who joined the Royal Canadian air force in 1939 to fight tyranny before the US entered the war – Β he who fought and died, aged 19 in 1941. Briefly he understood what it is to be on both sides of the clouds

High Flight


John Gillespie Magee

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Β Life is calling people. Go grab it.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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65 Responses to Clouds From Both Sides

  1. macjam47 says:

    Loved that song! High Flight is one of my favorite poems. You’ve done well today. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

  2. merrildsmith says:

    Beautiful post, and one of my favorite songs. I’ve read that Joni Mitchell was reading a book on a plane (I’ve forgotten the book), and she looked out at the clouds, and both inspired her to write the song.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I was at a concert given by some close friends and Mary, one of ten two singers explained about the plane ride before she sang it. Gulps and hard swallows all round.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My comment has the potential to be longer than your post so I will say thank you. Thanks for sharing this poem, this song, and your thoughts on these.
    Some of the shit we deal with is about perception. Some just is and we deal as best we can. But truth in this:
    “It is SO easy to forget the great beyond, the richness, the infinite blue yonder while squeezed into the moment underneath.” πŸ’•

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Tim Cole says:

    Thanks for this. It touched.
    And the clip is pure: new to me and was 14 in 69

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jan says:

    That poem was my father’s favorite. He was a pilot. I love that song too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      My dad too. He wanted to be a pilot and in order to be in an airplane volunteered to be in the paratroop regiment. He near experienced that sensation but would have loved too.


  6. ❀ ❀ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on The Contented Crafter and commented:
    My friend Geoff over at ‘Tangental’ has just brought my later than normal morning coffee to a full stop, favourite coffee mug half way to my mouth, filled with the wonders of experiencing life in all its multitudinous wonderful choices – please read and enjoy and choose to be awesome too! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. willowdot21 says:

    Just wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sacha Black says:

    What Brentyn said. She nailed it. So did u. Inspiring this post geoffle. Proper inspiring πŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ali Isaac says:

    You are brimming over today Geoff! Whatever you’ve had, I’ll have some too please! We do get bogged down with things, dont we, silly unimportant things in the grand scheme, and it’s hard to stay positive. We need to wake up. I really loved this post Geoff, it has a bit of a Eureka! feel to it, which reminds me of the day I was driving Carys home from a hospital appointment and realised just how lucky we are. Thanks for reminding me. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      That has to be the best link I can think of for this. Precisely how I felt. Give her a hug from an old bearded fool across the sea won’t you!?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ali Isaac says:

        She’d be fascinated by your beard. She loves hair, but I don’t think she’s really seen any growing out of someone’s face before. (My mustache doesn’t count, before you say anything! πŸ˜‚)

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Shush woman stop fishing for unnecessary compliments. When eventually we do the tour of Ireland I’ll make sure I’m still wearing one!


  11. noelleg44 says:

    One of my favorite poems, learned it high school and haven’t thought of it for years. Thanks for the reminder!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Clouds From Both Sides by Geoff le Pard | Daily Echo

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  14. Wonderful post, Geoff

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks. We are of a vintage old enough to recall the likes of Joni and Mama Cass first time round and it’s like a memory triggered by a scent, the power of music to unpick a thought. A sniff of good sense methinks.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Terrific post, Geoff, very inspired. I can never get enough of Joni. Thanks for the poem, and the song video. πŸ’•

    Liked by 1 person

  16. KerryCan says:

    American President Ronald Reagan used a paraphrase of the first and last lines of Magee’s poem to eulogize the astronauts who died in the flight of the space shuttle Challenger. It’s a beautiful, haunting poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Helen Jones says:

    Wow. I love all of this – the line, the poem, the idea behind it. Looking at both sides of the clouds, how beautiful. I think I’ve done it, but I still have to remind myself every so often πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  18. M. L. Kappa says:

    I didn’t know his poem. Brought a lump to my throat. thanks!


  19. Norah says:

    Lovely post, Geoff. Thanks for sharing the poem. It is difficult to read knowing the poet was dead at age 19. It reminds me a little of this song by Redgum.
    We who are left and reap the benefit of their sacrifice have much to be grateful for.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. davidprosser says:

    A great post Geoff and a fantastic song. We must all have a favourite version as so many people have done it.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Now I must go look up the uncertainty principle. Thanks for sharing this.


  22. stuckinscared says:

    What a beautiful post. Inspiring. Breathtaking. The poem is beautiful, but it was the quote at the top that took my breath away… “I have looked at the clouds from both sides now.” … Iv’e never heard it before, I’ll not forget it!


  23. Charli Mills says:

    Such a sense of infinity and possibility from here and now.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Rachel says:

    Lovely post! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  25. roweeee says:

    What an incredibly inspiring post, Geoff. I am going to come back tomorrow when I’m not about to go to bed and I can absorb all of this so much better.
    We have experienced some of this since my kids joined Scouts, which I have to say is proving an incredible adventure which goes way beyond hiking and tying knots.
    Today, we took Mister to an introduction to this thing called the Gang Show. It turns out the scouts put on a variety show at the regional theatre and so we took him along. I almost didn’t go as I’d ytaken Miss to a bowling party this morning and thought I should rest but also wanted to support our son. So, off we all went.
    As it turned out, cubs were allowed to join in so we now have both kids signed up.
    All the kids get to participate and it’s all about the gang performing rather than having stars. I like that idea. While it gives Miss an opportunity to extend her experience, this could well be the opportunity our son needs to get him going. He is so into drama and is one of those kids who is constantly acting off stage and yet he can’t see this in himself. He is such a performer/actor. He also wandrs around the house singing. So this afternoon, he got put on the spot and had dance, singing and voice auditions. We’re not exactly sure whether he was singing in tune but he was one of the few kids we could hear and the person doing the audition all but stuck her ear down his throat and seemed quite interested. Even though Miss has done a lot of singing, she is fairly quiet.
    I’m quite curious to see how this all unfolds.
    Meanwhile, we will be devoting our sunday arvos to rehearsals.
    xx Ro

    Liked by 1 person

  26. StephJ says:

    Simply beautiful!!!

    I found this post via Suzie’s blog party, feel free to check out my blog as well


    Liked by 1 person

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  29. LucciaGray says:

    Lovely song and powerful poem, such a pity such a brilliant writer died so young and tragically. Thoughtful post, it made me think about counting my blessings and never giving up hope on anyone or anything. Yes, we can overcome obstacles and aim for the other side of the clouds. I’m spending a lot of time with my grandchild, seven, at the moment, and it’s one of the messages I hope he gets…. By the way, I’ve nominated you for a black and white photography challenge, if you have the time and inclination.


  30. willowdot21 says:

    I have said it before and I shall say it again, I love this poem, did I say before he wrote this poem a week before his death, he died in training. Such a beautiful poem. πŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

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