Poems from a Mountain Retreat

A Creative Unfolding

Mountain Retreat

The Himalayas and the Alps are two massive mountain ranges. The Himalayas separate the land from Tibet to the north, and the plains of India to the south. The Alps separate much of northern Europe from the south. I grew up in both and, like many, enjoy returning to where I started life, as well as exploring new places.

During the autumn of 1994 I spent an extended period alone in the South Alps amongst the 3000 metre high mountains. Once I had begun to attune to this wild landscape, words started to come to me spontaneously, which initially were simple, rather like the first scribblings of a small child.

Later, some of the texts became more complex, both in relationship to my surroundings and to the evolving inner, creative process I was experiencing. Sometimes it seemed as if I was being spoken to, or taught. And low and behold, I also met a warm-hearted man in the mountains. Like me, he was taking time to be in nature and we had common interests in education.


This human contact rekindled my love affair with nature. Many creative people refer to the earth as ‘mother earth’ and experience love – a falling in love – with her.

After weeks of living in the high mountains I never wanted to return to a town from the solitude and attunement I’d found in my surroundings in nature. Memories of ‘civilisation’ seemed crude to me. Months later, on returning to a university town, the difference between creative imagination and clear, critical rationality became more obvious to me.

On finally descending to Locarno after my time in the mountains, I visited the church ‘Madonna del Sasso’ and this was my impression at that time.

Rhea Quien 2019

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