Category: First Words

Leaving Scepticism

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They said that all things seemed

they said I dreamed

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Which angered me

when all about me I could see

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The places and the people

sublime and beautiful

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Which must be real

or what else did I feel?

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The world with all its light and energy

spoke meaning to my sense

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Everything that looked at me,

everywhere I went

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And so I left their false philosophy

which could not answer

could not satisfy me

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Frustrated by distrust and suspicion

I could not live with endless scepticism

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But went elsewhere to find

the human peaceful mind

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The wiser and the quieter

and the happier condition.

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Were these my vision?

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I was born in a void

No words reached me

From another world.

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I was born in a void

And all that I knew

Were wind, rain, the voices

Of heaven’s descending

To the bitter earth.

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I was born in a void

And I knew of no talking

In my silent world.

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I was born in a void

And I could not remember

Where I had come from

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I stared around strangely

At the invisible agents

I could not discover

And wondered within

If these were my vision.

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Where are they now?

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Where are they now, who were before

When hounds they bred and hawks they bore

And worked these fields, these woods?

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They danced with ladies in their leisure

And ate and drank and took their pleasure

In all things as they would.

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Where is their laughter, where their song

Where the cloaks, the dresses long?

Where the hawks and hounds?

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All their joy is gone away

Gladness changed to misery

All buried in the ground.

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(adapted from a Mediaeval poem)

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‘August’, The Limbourg Brothers

They have already lived and died

Many people today suffer from feelings of loneliness. And yet we are born into the flow of humanity, which this poem explores:

They have already lived and died

               who made our past

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Or else they’re lost

               in mist through which we cannot peer

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I search for them

               I read their ways

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Reclining here

               turning the pages of a book

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I look for the life

               and the thoughts that shook

                              their souls to their foundations

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Their voices reach me

               convert my ways

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And suddenly I’m changed

               by all they thought and did

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All stored up, now

               stored and ready

                              waiting to be released.

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From ‘First Words’

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Pattern Making Animals

I looked at the sky this morning and my mind traced innumerable patterns in the clouds. I was reminded of something the poet John Betjeman said, and of an early poem I wrote inspired by what he said:

All we do, he said, is to create new patterns

            And as long as we do that

Even if we do nothing else

            We are doing something beneficial.

I thought: we use our minds

            to order our experiences; he was right

Our simple fascination with the aesthetic

            Told something truthfully:

We are pattern-making animals who find

            More than a material blessing in our designs.

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Image by Jacques GAIMARD from Pixabay

Wonder

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A God who came a man

a virgin maid, a mother

We reason all we can

tell one thing or another

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A God but he can die

Dead man, and can he live?

How can we make reply?

How can we answer give?

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Yet Truth itself does teach it

Though man’s mind sinks far under

Thinking itself can’t reach it

We halt, can only wonder.

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Adapted from a Mediaeval poem

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Learn a Little Wisdom

Learn a Little Wisdom

I was young and blind to my vices

            I was young and enthusiastic

                        and keen like the North wind

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Who would help me resign myself

            to my human failings

                        my daily, common human failings

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So that I ceased to rage against myself

            and against my own inadequacies

                        and would start to learn a little wisdom?

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I was young, and young in judgment

            and my passions swirled within me

                        misleading me with every step I took

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And I thought I had understanding

            never knew what I had to learn

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There has been so much more to consider

            as I pore away at my books

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And now it is enough

            to make my soul burn.

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This poem is from First Words, a published collection that explores questions about life, about time and relationships, youth and age, scepticism and belief, questions and faith.  They are the poems of a searching spirituality, moving from uncertainty towards maturity, and contain some of the earliest poems that I wrote that I wished to preserve.

I contribute £2 (GBP) to Street Pastors, Shrewsbury, from each sale.

If you would like to purchase, please follow this link

Also available…

Returning to the Father

These poems follow a journey from rebellion to realisation to reconciliation and returning to the Father.

Rembrandt’s famous painting of the parable of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son, and the parable itself have been important sources for this work, and readers are directed to those works for further inspiration.

This volume of poems is now available to purchase for £5 (GBP) before postage. I contribute £2 (GBP) to Street Pastors, Shrewsbury, from each sale.

If you would like to purchase, please follow this link

Songs of Gladness, Songs of Pain

Songs of Gladness, Songs of Pain is a modern rendering of twenty-nine different Psalms, ancient texts that speak of human struggle to understand and relate to God.

Like the Psalms, these poems seek to understand evil and violence in the world, searching for peace and meaning, searching for joy and gladness in the midst of pain.

I contribute £2 (GBP) to Street Pastors, Shrewsbury, from each sale.

If you would like to purchase, please follow this link