Another Nature

‘Only the poet, disdaining to be tied to any such subjection,
lifted up with the vigour of his own invention,
doth grow in effect another nature….’

Philip Sidney: ‘The Defence Of Poesy’

Nakita Cheung [adaptation]

Nakita Cheung [adaptation] - Unsplash

© Copyright 2014 A. S. Kline All Rights Reserved

This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.


Contents


Wide Skies

This is the limestone country, here light falls

through the tender declivities of the spirit,

as though bathing and healing,

though what pales the stones are lichens,

growths out of weathering,

the excrescences of time made beauty.

Here are the wide skies, the green fields,

the gleam and glitter of grass

that flows in the wind denoting richness,

as though a signifier to what hides

shy in the spirit, anxious of hurt,

needful of what bathes and transmutes.

Here are the run of trees, the line of wall,

the shadows on the field,

the long slopes gently curving, the caves

of cold, the mined-out rakes, their sound

which is a delicate soughing

of the air moving soft over dissolved lives.

The quicklime of time moves mysteriously here,

nothing demonstrative, discrete as its wildflowers,

its fields mute in winter, its misted lights and darks,

its underground soothing waters,

its ease of trees, its ash and hawthorn musings.

The rounded hills spring to a godless sky

fierce in blue intensity, a winter stillness

inescapable, then resolve themselves into

paler quiets, gripping the heart,

in a crystalline and heartless universe.

Here the stone spires hover pointing nowhere except

back into the human spirit. These are human hills,

they open out, immense, under the stars,

their collision of moistures, long sediment of tides

their risen beds of creature and un-creation.

This is not a landscape that shifts the mind sideways:

the comers stay, thought dives deep into the ground

to rise a mile distant, bubbling, covering the grass

and spreading its net of light, ready at any instant

to sink away, elusive as life itself, undirected.

It is more like star-music, collisions of galaxies

without sound, but whose colours we almost hear,

hiding the other life surely existent

somewhere in the billion-fold light of the vast bonfire;

more like a secret music on the edge of the ear,

beyond its coils, music that somehow echoes us

without assuming our presence, resonating though

with what we create from the invisible, in every space

and none, our mind-creations, marks of the fortunate,

emblems of humility, or love,

since these are the great spaces, landscapes and voids,

in whose inner cores lie the flowing chambers,

whirls of gaseous light or deep veils

that will never blaze for us, yet are our birth-right,

notes of our clef on the stave of a familiar being.

At night the hills and mounds, the peaks and shallows

seem no shelter, rather the gates at the field sides

that lead into seas of grass

not caves of the heart but veins and sinews of light

that stretch, bright tendrils, into a universe

we never fully comprehend, only suffer. If our hearts

were stronger might we forget ourselves

and leave time behind, embracing only space,

a drifting through a flow un-destined, calling

out cries like these cries of the limestone night,

strange harsh cries of the creatures, then their sighs,

groans, piercing shrieks, murmurs and snuffling,

which blossom like stars and fall, descend and fade

like stars, in the inner vision of the listener

and the watcher?

The limestone is a milkiness of the breath, a pallid

rough-smooth arc of the moving voice,

a shimmering of light where there should be none,

a careless shuffle of stone over endless seams of hills,

shrouding the sanctums of water:

what fluids we are, what fluidity of being,

shapeless and shaped, carving and still uncarved,

finding out narrow ways in the cliff-shadowed depths

of the limestone dale, no more nor less than the galactic

coiling, no stranger: no less no more conceivable!


The Rose

A melding of galaxies white in the image

draws me in.

Is it collision, or by-pass, juxtaposition,

a trick of the eye, a slight of distance,

a subtle movement of parallax,

a simple conjunction without meaning,

though it creates the rose,

like that rose in the garden where we walked

to the courtyard, cistern, fountain,

through the arbours,

beside the channels of stone

those spouting gushers

above the tinted air of the plain.

The white and perfect rose,

the rose of stars,

that I imagine here

in the green darkness

of a pure December

years away,

the out-flung light

from those flat and edge-on spirals,

one its stem, the other the true calyx,

pointillism of a billion worlds,

our rose,

the rose of time, the rose

of the ever-flowering universe

in which we melt and vanish,

rain on leaves

of eternal light,

on hills under the stars.

Its image joins us, mind on mind,

as it welded us body on body,

the two are one.

An image reclaimed, no image

of unsound gods, deceptive angels

in some blind heaven,

or battles or veils,

or secret unintelligible joys,

but image of delicate earth, an impossible echo,

in which you, all of earth to me, linger;

rose etched of galaxies:

world is form, its perception,

but mind is symbol:

lives are like galaxies,

love is their bright collision.


The Mine

Ash trees, black candles, blades, buds pointed

at the stars, naked in winter

crest the shaft veil the abandoned mine

on its distant hill

and encircle its deep quiet.

The mine went under the earth

the miners under the earth,

the minds, went down

into the chill,

into damp silence

to split the stone,

pick, hammer and wedge,

drag the sledge

wind the windlass:

now all is quiet again.

Ash inherits.

its black flame-tips burn,

black matter, black energy

move above.

We feel their gravity

their lost gatherings

their silent murmur

their lightless presence

dark as lead and heavy

though they too walked

through green fields

studying wild flowers.


Not Our Hands

There’s the unsung labour of centuries

in the stone walls, mines, farms,

back to the first peoples

who moved over this land

with thoughts we grasp for,

trying to conceive in shadows

the shapes of familiar ghosts.

Stone on stone, or stone from stone,

back to the rings and lows,

not of this quietened landscape

but the sounding industry

echoing on curving hills

the noise of its creature-being

over a living surface.

Hand-axe and sled, barn

and standing stone,

ditch and field,

and then the trickle of water,

into the grey-white vale,

then the silent flowers

in the gate of grass.


Morning Song

All living creatures run

towards the rising sun.

Minds on fire with light

follow the world in flight.

Flame of the brilliant eye

sings in the morning sky.

We run towards the light

out of the quiet of night.


The Moral Man

The moral man in his gentleness considers

the maze of being in which worlds conflict,

and yet in his gentleness refuses conflict.

That is paradox. To be moral he must engage

with a world that only renders him immoral,

presents the choices granted beyond choice.

Beyond good and evil lies the real, that place

where we navigate by unreliable beacons,

or by the markers that they place on slopes

to find a direct path by in the snowfields.

Look, there they climb the hill, on either side

the dangerous shafts, the deceptive hollows.

The moral man in his gentleness, pursues

the lightest things, the dance of shadows,

grateful for music, taciturn as to meanings,

which evolve from lines of light as notes evolve

spirals of stars in the attentive listener,

not to be voiced too loudly, subtle as love

which is not measured by happiness or time,

but by the depths that fall away from us

and open the void of multi-coloured veils

in which strange objects lurk, some that destroy,

collapsed beings that suck in all matter, life;

some that give back their light, send a planet

silver and blue turning alive through silence.

Such planets the moral man in his gentleness

observes, they climb above his courtyard

pinpricks of faultless diamond, glittering

towards the distant tree, or a sombre hill,

with a measure that is more than human,

more than the moral man in his gentleness.


Endless

Here all is humble, with the humility of true things,

which save us by their quietness

and absence of demand, the things that serve;

the stone guide-post that completes a gate,

the rutted track that somehow always heals

again its mud grown firm, the creature’s gaze

placid or vital, the wall, the line of trees,

that make a boundary to our hidden path

visible only by its stiles, those works of hands,

the craft of artistry, that punctuate horizons,

an up-flung post their signal, or a crest

of stone that says ascend descend,

register your being here (feel gravity

drag you down, and bring you back

from its summit, mountaineer)

or the humbler still, the blue flower by the way,

the pool of water, the trickle like the memory

of a brook, the tremor of a half-remembered line,

the moment part-recovered teasing thought

that lies buried deep in an afternoon

of your self that tried but failed to survive you.

Or the eye grows humbler still,

and quieter,

follows the softened swerve of the horizon

unbroken by artefacts, almost free of trees

the line of blue or grey or occasional gold

that deepens in the heart, the colour

of our child-being, the pinprick self

dwarfed by each cloud, leaf, pebble,

until we are nothing more than the transience

that is the condition of our passing through,

elusive ourselves as what we contemplate,

found in a right perspective,

whittled down

like the fastening of the latch,

to something usable, a form

of the mind that can employ the mind

for making and creating,

as sober minds

made these wide farms and walls,

followed the slopes, made trails

and quarried through

to ancient bedrock,

itself dove-coloured stone,

shade of the earth.

The land engenders love,

careless of its own beauty

which exists perhaps only in living minds,

a perception of what cradles the human heart

and soothes its pain and restlessness,

invokes the dark, the purl

of secret waters in discrete abyss

the hidden channels of our promises.

Nothing here proclaims in pearl-grey winter

a summer dominance,

its speech is the speech of mortal dialect

its form the conciseness of a ridge

multiplied to a long backbone of edges,

or an unpretentious wood on a slope,

mysterious by being laid full open,

as the loved is always mysterious,

less known when eye to eye

or mind to mind,

but always astonishing.

Nothing here states other than obvious

shapes and hues and tones

or is less obvious,

or why would we return

in heart, ear, eye

and the marrow of thought

to whatever it may mean

to lose oneself in landscape?

There is a complexity

the mind still reads

as it did long ago

in a text too subtle

for its understanding,

but from which

some hidden redolence,

like a forgotten scent

rises, essential

inescapable, and yet unreachable,

a fragrance like the rose

but not the rose,

further there, stranger,

alien to us, yet humbler,

essence of time, but what;

faint as the far field

we will never know,

but whose distance calls to us,

dark travellers.


The Major Ghost

Flights of birds now,

a thousand in a flight, rhythm of birds, the ghosts of light flocking over the fields of light,

like the gone generations,

each complicated life a universe, lost universes, into which

we dare travel less than into the great universe

whose planets will only return us to ourselves

selves into which we can no longer travel.

Great flights of birds,

dark flickerings of the dale,

what birds are these

nothing here tells,

no field-glass, no bird-book defines

the unknown, the unspecific glimmering

darkness, like the dark matter

congregating among stars,

that energy that grips the galaxies

tighter than light,

defying our detailed naming,

defeating ownership.

A wild migration. Reading the legend

where Buddha says the self

like the world does not exist as one

abiding thing, but as shifting forms,

and in saying so

almost touched on process,

the life non-linear, the fractal depths

where even choice

hangs by an ash-tree thread

over a dew-pond’s glow.

Migration. Not transmigration.

Not gone beyond. Just this,

the poems of time on stone,

the groves of time crowning tiny hills

from which birds wheel,

where birds rise and join

that greater flight of birds,

the major ghost.


December Fields

Bright light on the December fields

conceals the heart, conceals the mind

behind the flesh, inside the eye,

which every moment, every place

inside the space of walls and hills,

creates another universe

though less immediate, and part

not of the other, but the self,

more of the irreal than the real,

though entangled here in both.

So you, unseen, move on green hills,

stand beside me as I gaze

over the stone stile into the shorn field,

the glow, then walk between lines

of silver stubble, the gold, the grey,

to reach the mere’s dark solitude,

though my solitudes are deeper,

since in them no creatures winter

except heart’s creatures,

intangible, unseen.

Invisible, is it visibility mind longs for?

Some repetition of water, fixity of stone?

Or do we value too much our private silence

of which no one can know, not even

the near companion, not even self often,

what it is that dreams in this hive

of dark, this flow behind the visage?

A fair exchange, an inner making

everywhere invisible, for the clear discretion

of limestone uplands?

They would be music, the voice in me

others can never hear,

unable to critique me for revealing

too much, only for delving too deep

unable to communicate

the meaning of the stillness,

except by gesturing vaguely at forms,

by muttering incantations,

wrenched from the unspeakable,

this viewless taciturn.

They would be sound: did you not say

in words that startled me,

those casual brilliant words,

that the miracle would be for the human

to end in music, escape

the poor words which we set in lines,

unable to speak our longing

for that sweet place we get to

when they are so placed

and a strange unlooked-for music plays.

The weathered heights, the steep stone ways

rise to travel the tops, where bright

in December light the mind waits

for vision, strength, realisation,

something real from the real distance,

of light rays slanting under sombre cloud,

of green undulating ridges with tiny trees

riding their backs like windblown children,

something more maybe from the flight of birds

than their dark whirling and far cries.

Marble and quicklime are the modifications

of this rock, form and return to formlessness,

and we, like its fossils, dissolved and petrified,

change light each hour and yet are here

silent, unseen within the setting day

in our weird permanence, brief as

the flash of sun,

there, then behind the cloud, cascading

in a secret glory:

oh, guess what I am from my rays.

Down by the ginnels of abraded stone,

down by the runnels of invisible water

that flow under the ground,

I find my track,

long shadows take me,

a grove of trees groans and sighs

to this cold north-westerly;

its dry leaves shake,

in places no thought goes

still mysterious in loveliness,

since no map shows the beauty of the landscape,

nor landscape shows the movements of the mind.


The Beauty The Camera Does Not Capture

The beauty the camera does not capture,

that needs something of the human eye,

that sweep of continuous movement over a landscape,

under its arc of extended sky,

the vision the creature’s denied: though birds maybe

penetrate, as Blake said, another space

between the beech, the oak wood, and the ash.

What does the camera feel on its face

of this world that rises clear in the living eye,

this excitement of the senses it cannot capture,

of this country which has to be walked through

to be known, of this abstract: Nature?

A beauty the image creates by mutilation,

to render it in its medium, to make the new,

is not this beauty the heart cannot explain

except by speaking of love; unreal, untrue,

not this pure juxtaposition of mind and sense,

like stone to the touch, a cold flame in the air,

grass-green light to the eye; not this that always

takes the heart by surprise, and holds it there.


Civilisation

The gale of wind travels the muddy lane,

between high walls, a trail of earth and grass,

but the day is flame and ice, the low sun sings

to the long silences, the thrash of branches.

I watch my shadow move along the wall

in a patch of sunlight; no winter shade

it is a shadow of the summer freed here

to slide from seasons, and abandon time.

Plunge down dale, into the secret narrows,

the thick grasses between sculpted outcrops,

the sudden shelter: here the salt-way ran,

here packed mules followed the long slope

towards the green depths, here time congeals,

and like the shadow on the wall repeats

the centuries in miniature, rewinds the human,

or fashions the one bird, replicates its flight,

and secretes it still among ash and hawthorn,

makes stream and river sound the same music

out of the same molecules of water, abrades

the stone but not in the forms of civilisation,

whose marble shapes made to soothe, impress,

or simply echo visibly in space, here lose

their resonance – we move beyond artifice,

this is the windblown world in our faces,

and the primal shadow, with its primal dance

over surface, though here is the modern eye

to catch both past and present in awareness

knowing these spaces too have always opened

into infinite space, and the night of galaxies,

that the primal shape also involved affections,

that the senses stirred here, among soluble stone,

rock softer to the hand, incised regions,

cut by sweet water, sculpted by the storm,

strange under snow, or glittering with grass,

(simple to raise a stone circle or a barn roof,

to make safe against the shiver of the stars)

conformable but rugged, with small fields

hedged in stone where the stubble lingers,

high on the slope, hidden among green tracts

in its slight rectangle of undulating ground,

harsh with a northern hardness, open though

and gentler than the south in the inner spirit,

so that the grass hides small flowers in spring,

the mere hides tiny amphibians, insects, stems,

minds hold warmth. If civilisation is truth,

acknowledged beauty, love of deep places,

here is the civilised landscape. Its shadows

are my shadow travelling across its space

of whitened wall in the gale-bright sun,

its imperfect perfection the distant detail,

its past my present, its creatures my kin,

its limestone sieve still winnowing my light.


The Upland

You could walk over this in a day,

or fail to walk over it in a lifetime.

It is the wide tract filled with detail,

that like a fractal boundary dissolves

into deeper layers, on further scales.

You could cross it, driving, in an hour,

from all directions, or miss it going by

in a moment. It yields its secrets easily,

but holds them endlessly in its stillness,

is no challenge, offers no temptation,

is not some place of power, some jewel

of ages, a storehouse of acquisition,

or the sacred space of any rite,

but will draw the heart and root it deeper

in its simplicity, the complex real,

its unpretentious being, of itself,

in the subtle region that it occupies.

It is like the path you cross,

not the path you follow. The latter

predicates a destination, an idea,

the former an embrace of freedom,

an implicit acceptance of the

fall of a purer water in the ear,

which anticipates no answer

even though it echoes inside.

It is like the light you feel, not

the light you see, a warmth

of the spirit that disregards

the superficialities of ritual:

it is the sun itself and not

the reflected or refracted ray

mirrored or absorbed in the pool

which indicate a depth or surface to be lit

rather than a substance under your hand

that almost seems to support the globe in space

unsuspended, present in the void.

You can follow the lines of its ancient lanes:

they all have names, who named them?

Or be anonymous in its anonymity,

(bird unidentified, or flower, or stream,

the corner of a hill, the barn, the wall,

though its trees insist on recognition),

unrecognised yourself, free of the net,

circling between villages, caught

in the boundless boundary of a single day,

the mileage of a quiet walk,

the whisper of its hedgerows, fences, ditches,

the shade of ruined, broken-backed, solid walls

that apportion vale-sides, cover distances,

like threads of stone in lakes of emerald,

or textured chains on a bright fabric;

or you can sit in stillness

on a layered ledge,

fingering the crumbling rock,

tasting its stony strangeness,

watching the kestrel pass,

the rabbit in the grass,

the insect on the stem,

the breath of air

that stirs the mind,

its latent memories.


English

The language here goes deeper into English,

back towards walls in their angles,

back towards stones,

names are a flex of older shifts of meaning

tongued and elided time,

their words are words for streams, barns, possession,

not flowers or trees

not stars or birds,

nothing for beauty all for being

for endurance,

for carving out and holding on,

for rooting in the silence

sounding a note

however brief or faint

of the familiar music.

The tracks were their tracks, we are passers-by:

to spend a life here is still to be a stranger,

whom light delights, who hears

under the ground in darkness clearer water

or at the corner of the field

might see the brown hare dance on snow,

and so be more than guest

sinking deeper

towards the hearts of words

their writhing tendrils

their nodes where meaning hangs

their soil that falls

into your open hand

and discloses

what time will never tell of its own accord.

Stand quiet here between the ash and alder,

between the upland summit and the valley,

wildflowers in the eye,

grass underfoot,

draw that deep breath

that joins both body and mind,

in the further space

where this place is,

where ideas move

through the labyrinth of thought

its sculpted channels,

ideas like dark words flickering in the sun,

with their black light

that flows from centuries

of words, of names

now silent.


The Far

Now, beloved, in this moment now

where place is all of light, and of the night

what noises now

so secretly

is what cannot, though time deceive,

be lost entirely and must leave

the meaning of the inner vow

a message of the mystery,

take thought, among the valleys slow

the sifting water shimmering there

in clearer air

persistently,

is what cannot, though time deceive,

be changed entirely, nor must grieve

the passing or the failed response

as you must know.

Now, beloved, in this evening light

where limestone wall and hawthorn brake

foam on the ledges of the night,

believe in me, for my sake,

or if not, in the deep intention here

that takes the mind beyond our fear

towards the purity of star

where mind is sated by the far.


A Villanelle for Wittgenstein – Made While Walking

Mind is the meaning that cannot be said.

Though words are a public tune we all agree,

self is the private music in the head.

Despite the bright speech of the familiar dead,

despite the rapport between yourself and me,

mind is the meaning that cannot be said.

Oh, he was right, all language can be read,

but words we speak are not the mystery;

self is the private music in the head.

There are those things that in the nerves are bred,

open to all, yet here’s the sole circuitry;

mind is the meaning that cannot be said.

Though you on I and I on you have fed,

though love is communion, we still are free.

Self is the private music in the head.

If not might you suppose that we instead

could stand for each, the other each must be?

Mind is the meaning that cannot be said.

Self is the private music in the head.


The Only One

It might be you recognise him, know his name,

that dark figure that climbs the landscape

slope by slope, from the quiet village

to the upland field, it may seem

his silent self-containment is the outcome

of hand and mind accustomed to their work,

or that his stride neither too short nor long

used to steep valleys or grassy pastures,

evokes the steadiness of light on limestone,

the unspectacular under a winter sky,

light on a rock that shapes to the hand

as you climb the stile, shapes to the wind,

the seasons, and the sun.

It might be you think you know this century

is the century he climbs, though how you know

which century you travel, at this moment,

between the glittering field and the sky

is hard to say, a rational supposition maybe,

but then how much of us is reason,

how much a sheer persistence, like the ground,

which looked much the same in other centuries,

though lift your eyes to the skyline

and mine stacks, then carriages on rutted roads,

then horse and plough, then low appear,

the burial mound, the smoke

from ancient fires,

and that same climber, moving to your eye

like a familiar ghost – see him clear,

in that eye of imagination,

truer often than the seeing eye,

vision not veiling habit.

As if the track he treads, the muddy lane,

is the one track trodden, that he

is only a little ahead of us maybe,

planning his labour, rising purposefully

out of the valley, to heal, or conserve,

to mend a wall or shift a stone,

or like us here to gaze, look down and out

over the landscape, knowing that this

in some clear form will sweetly outlast us,

that we are a simple shadow on the brightness,

(a flicker no more than the evening moth,

than the brown hare’s passing down

a furrow through the cold air)

a shadow seized on transience a little more

in mind, though less in flesh;

who knows how long the kestrel’s minute

lasts, or that of the field-mouse,

or the horse-fly?

In the end he is only ourselves in passing,

the one dark figure that always strides

from that field gate to the further stile,

his mind glimmers in ours, ours in his,

and we breathe the one mortal being,

swifter than Lathkill’s winter stream,

or the gyring flight of birds (what birds

are they) over the gleaming grass.

And we are in both places, in all places,

what Donne meant by the main, the continent

where all are separate but all are one,

and the island an illusion. The twisted spiral,

the subtle code that is the bond of life,

and its message, twines through this landscape,

to coil about the sun,

where Dante saw the human form (as

Leonardo drew, and Blake supposed)

for us the only One.


Without A History

This is a landscape where no great names died,

where no one needs to conceal the lie of the land,

or the shafts sunk in error where nothing lay.

Conflict evaded it, though it saw violence,

caught between non-strategic viewpoints,

aligned solely with the earth as it was,

and the smoke and fumes of our savage

seizure of the planet shrank here on green

slopes of abandoned silence.

Its life was rebellious and mercurial,

brief lightning of a local nature,

a robust mockery of Achilles and Apollo:

rather Mercury with his cattle, and the flute

of the shepherd rather than the lyre:

there are too many lyres.

Change and oppression might threaten,

was the message,

but unchanged we will be still and persevere,

knowing a deeper truth, that the random order

of the universe has seen far worse

but not invented better.

Which is no claim for sainthood for minds

that chose the hidden ways, old crossroads,

ancient fields, now thoroughly modern:

there are no saints, only beneficent purposes

and internal solutions to what erodes

our brevity devoid of all intention,

this cosmos, strangely free, expanding nowhere,

silently, and sprung from nowhere,

which few now find strange.

No saints, only images erected, statues

to sainthood. Whether we choose

to scatter ourselves or concentrate our love

is not the point, though they think so

who seek to engineer societies or faiths,

the truth is subtler, deeper.

Self is no mass movement. Valid lives

also turned away from intervention,

seeking no harm to everything on earth.

The interventionists of mind have much

to answer for, extolled as they are

by the public voice.

Apollo never masters Mercury,

thank goodness, the fields are free

to wild creatures too,

those who move under bright constellations

to other and more intense

destinations

not on our maps, and never

to be explained, or compromised,

by an overt communication.

To learn is to unfold what we know,

more than a rush from place to place:

seeking beauty, revealing beauty

is harder, the argument against progress,

destabilisation of old ways of life,

a too swift change that sharpens the mind

and may belittle it. The human race

is not a movement towards set place,

its purposes in the end all purposeless.

Where no great names die, where there is

scant history, the real continues,

every value a judgement still.


My Dear Sleeper

As the past grows longer,

the night grows deeper,

the mind grows smaller,

my dear sleeper.

As the stars en masse,

our bright impasse,

stretch further back

in time’s dark crack;

as the tide of light

in the dead of night

from the moon at full

exerts its pull,

stirs your dark hair,

remember there;

time is the keeper,

my dear sleeper.


Limestone And Air

Oh you will have to catch the world in flight.

What waits for us is the habit that will pass.

You must overtake your shadow in the grass.

Daylight begins before the ends of night.

What waits for us is a shadow in the grass,

You will have end before the world’s delight.

Thought has a mind to take the world in flight,

body mind’s semblance that in time will pass.

Oh you must learn the meaning of delight.

What the mind loves defeats the counter-pass,

the swallow exceeds its shadow in the grass,

starlight and air, we meet, at ends of night.

All that has mind for shadows in the grass,

all that will overtake this world in flight,

comes of the deepest habits that must pass,

forms the sun’s semblance in the dark of night.

Thought must take pains to forge the world’s delight.

Oh you must learn the subtlest counter-pass,

what the mind loves is our sole means of flight,

sharper than swallow’s shadow on the grass.


Sedimentary

Its reticence is a reticence of seasons,

whose progress is un-sensational,

formed of the simplest kinds of weather,

the grey, the umber, or the blue.

Its shape is the shape of cumulo-nimbus,

curves and bays, towers and curtain walls.

You can never imagine it as marble,

hard to see Michelangelo’s captive slave

buried there, though it will gloss with wear.

Its scent is wild grassland air combined

with an almost imperceptible drift of flowers,

a fragrance that tugs the heart, beyond the sense.

Its mastery is the conquest of dark hollows,

the traverse of gently co-operative hills,

the rise beside clumps of trees without dissent,

the embrace of water beneath its knees.

Its sound is breeze, delicate wood-anemone,

or a hiss of wind where a gust has died,

or the vague mutter of a marginal stream

waiting to dive, unexpectedly emerging.

Its light is a curious blend of pale and dark,

a story written by lichen on slabs of stiles,

calling to distant roadways on green hills

shattering all your assumed imaginations.

Its seriousness is the depth of its own poetic,

despising the facile, weightless, ephemeral

music of what only lasts after a fashion.

Its core’s the fossil meaning of lost erosions,

the coils and fronds and pens of other seas

than these grass oceans in an upland silence,

which a buzzard cry may break, or the croak

of a crow mocking impermanence, ever crow.

It has been always other than what we have been,

always stone, always the implacable non-reason

corresponding to those trails of galactic stars,

from whose whirls we stare at the central darkness.


Crossroads

Romans too idled at crossroads, and the T’ang Chinese,

contemplating the State, the confusion of their affairs.

Sacred to deities of trade, movement, loitering, the night,

a place where stray dogs attack, or sleep sound in the sun,

crossroads are permanent impermanence, something

always passes, but like a horizontal sign they point

the directions of other-where, out of what is;

to a dip and the trees, or a sloping hill and the skyline.

Surviving here they embody history, tracks

and routes that followed lines of landscape,

and crossed each other as lines of life will cross

precipitating re-appraisal of what was and might be.

A crossroad opens, never drives you on, but tempts

to rest and be at peace an instant, which is hard

for creatures born to restlessness, and re-invention.

One-track places have single pasts and futures,

you come you go, but crossroads offer options,

not the least of which is to cease from travel,

and hold still in this landscape with its slower

diminution of birds and fields, its persistence.

Then you can contemplate the ways and where

they lead: to those we loved and those we love,

or to the singing and the sighing of cities,

to creation or destruction, joy or fear;

or you can circle on the map, take in surrounds,

scan neighbours, since a crossroad forms radii,

quarters the circumference of our presence;

or meditate like Romans building empires,

or T’ang poets trying desperately to evade one.

Here we lay down power, assume our powers,

of feeling and sensation, trace creation’s gyres.

A hawk in the wide sky, looks down at life.

Every moment of history is a crossroads;

humankind is free to choose another path,

to where a second Mozart comes to pass,

or another Leonardo sketches the living grass.


This Place At Evening

Now order is the order of the day,

the cello plays that Boccherini piece,

the tune he heard in a Madrid street

transformed to the meaning of its joy;

ideal order, all that art can know,

an order of freedom, outside these lives

ever-disappointed, a failure to cohere,

in the marshes where no craft can steer.

Not the order of life then which is greater,

though ungraspable; the best we can do

is lay the stone tiles that ‘thatch’ a roof,

or maintain the walls that others built.

Art is no subtle mystery, a sole republic

of the free, yet no society; past the reach

of that to which the heart gives no assent,

to which mind has no duty, innocent

of all the moral pressures others bring

to this sad earth where we congregate,

a benighted species, dominant and late

to the feast of natural, but lost, delight.

Art is a gateway in a curious corner,

where you must forget yourself,

all other aims, and concentrate

on the shining entrance to the well,

which may for you hold water, or

still reflect the stars, implicit order,

spontaneous, self-born, and internal,

the pure meaning at the root of truth,

or beauty, or the love that terrifies.

Any moment may, before your eyes,

reveal the sacred space, no religion

will ever encourage you to enter,

the space of the clear mind, free

of what was said or thought before,

including this; the space of being,

the one no being ever brought to be.

Now, at evening, the moment of order,

the only deep happiness, the rest

anxiety and its attendant pain,

or a joy grasped at before it ebbs,

but this the words that flow in lines,

though not of the will, only by doing,

exercising powers so strangely ours,

which might have been missed in us,

so that we killed the creatures, yet

failed to paint the caves, heard cries

but composed no sounds of flutes,

analysed but forgot the living mind.

Art is the little gate among the trees,

that leads into the green wood, silently,

to where you are, love, and love exists,

all hurts forgiven, all failures eclipsed.


Nocturne

The planet on the floor was formed of silver.

It was the harbinger of alien stars.

Confined within the orbit of Mars,

we studied its brightness by the door.

Its light was the light of Parian marble.

Gods struggled there and goddesses

to be born, knotted darkly in eternity,

as we grappled with the mathematics.

It was never important we were there,

only that the appearances were kept,

no spilling over into flagrant being;

that the night lay open where we slept;

that the senses flickering now and then,

knew the stellar music, still unbroken,

in distance neither lucent nor opaque

where the depths of night coruscated.

We needed time: to become the dark,

to understand the other forms beneath,

over which the orbs of planets strayed,

shedding a comfortable sort of glow,

reflected, tolerable to our weak eyes.

We observed the planet on the wall

turning to blueness from silvery grey,

still more beautifully than we can say.


No Emulation

You can make it perfectly,

but it will not be loved as this day is loved,

as it unfolds the valley in the light

and looses vivid wings

as though itself alive;

not loved or envied

for its carelessness,

as this beyond cares

will be loved and envied.

We are the creatures neither stone

nor water, constrained as one, fluid as the other,

rebels of earth who do not ascend,

on flickering wings,

resentful of

this forced obedience,

we cannot break or better,

far from the place of love

where time runs slower.

I might make the poem perfectly,

but it would not be loved as you are loved

or as this place is, this dale of light,

where on wild wings

time above the grasses

over all clear things rises,

the bright tongue ends,

and far beyond language

emulation rests.


Another Nature

Limestone under the moon,

is curious,

what I need;

a different perspective,

a slab, a stream,

the glittering hills

resilient grass

in bright cracks and hollows,

a clearer mind.

A way of elaborating

on mountain air,

expanding

the little mind,

the wandering senses,

freeing the weighty heart

that always wants

ridiculously

to fly.

A crystal presence

like the creek,

would be a help,

a glass existence

through which the sky,

the clouds, the birds,

might be refracted,

another form of the eye,

another nature.


The Death Of Myth

The past that we have lost

was not benign:

what artists mourn

that biased crew,

is the useful strength

of metaphor, in which

power was invested,

power now void, power

the familiar emptiness.

It is hard to achieve

the scope for every

new-born individual

free at last of the mass,

every devotee of mind,

that the privileged few

historically achieved,

we feel confined by self,

but that is existential.

Escaping from the past,

(hearing Shelley’s cry)

seems beyond our wit;

war, poverty, disease

still scourge the planet,

while we, subject to age,

and death, we transients,

saw at the branch below,

erode the habitat we steal.

That world is insufficient

for us is a matter of mind,

the genetic chance of mind,

allowing us too far, too deep;

and of desire; and the need

we have for interest, of our

cruel proneness to ennui;

of that confinement intellect

experiences: self’s a prison,

unless our selves make self

otherwise, with only Athene,

if we must choose, the deity

to guide, goddess of mind,

though rather choose the Tao,

the pathless way, free of gods,

by which we relocate Nature,

in the spirit, spirit in Nature,

and learn to see whatever is.

Only the social entity needs

myths to live by, blessed by

the power nexus as they are,

since myths ensure stability,

a while. But this is the age,

the intellectual age I mean,

of the Individual, not myth,

Kierkegaard its curious hero:

he, ironically, drew the lines.

It is hard for the Individual,

and always was, who must

deceive society to survive,

yet be honest with the self.

We must propitiate Athene

to abolish her, she is truth,

and only she might lead us,

in the end, to love and beauty,

saved at last from Aphrodite.


Down There

Dark in the deepening gloom

the moon must wait,

silent, before rising

over rock and scree,

ash and fir,

the blue groves of evening.

In some unseen thicket

the stars must wait

before emerging

over the misted fields,

the cold grasses,

the chill clefts of evening.

What holds them back

mind knows, they rise

out of some deep

involuntary volition,

white moon and stars,

scaling the cliffs of night.


Not Your Longing

The power of myth

was the tale,

combined with the power

of metaphor,

doubly powerful.

Practical people

have no need of myth,

they write

descriptive poems,

with a tweak of feeling,

express empathy

with the ordinary,

speak plain,

have no desire

for philosophy,

refuse to strain

against the given.

We must admire

the steady eye,

that rooted spirit.

But the universe surrounds,

the mind’s alone,

time flies

and there is work to do,

to save humanity

from itself,

assuming if you do

it is worth saving.

Freedom is worth the cold

wind of apprehension,

the sting

of angst and anxiety.

To those who say

‘Why all the fuss?

Embellish the real further,

act like us,’

the sovereign mind replies,

‘I see the night

where you see light,

demand a space of self

beyond all skies.’


Lovely Paradox

The painter of chaos

still framed his paintings.

The wild composer

copied out the score.

The poet of freedom

confined his words

to an artificial

analytic form.

The whirlpool swirls,

the hurricane agrees.

The pollen-frenzied bees

perfect their hive:

Mind alive.


More Science

More science is what we need, not less.

The work of the Renaissance

and the Enlightenment is incomplete,

if it ends only in mute technology.

Yes, religion’s done, as far as mind’s

concerned that is (and the tyrannies

of patronage: this is the age of free

creation, the mind un-coerced at last)

Yes the old dreams and fantasies made

beauty, seduced the heart, bemused

the intellect with non-existent havens,

though the greatest masters were in love

with the material, the form, expression

of the human, that deep secular stream

that flowed through centuries of power

not theirs: and now that specific beauty

is frozen. And yes, we feel confined,

but that’s an existential problem, so

did all the rebels of the ages who hit

tender hands against artificial skies.

Beware lest intellect’s a matter of mood,

like poetry! We are neither more nor less

imprisoned by what we are than we were

in all those savage ages of the past. Even

though we’ve proved ourselves destroyers

on an earthly scale, the creative urge is

always a gateway to fresh eternity, a new

native land: the Renaissance has not ended,

expressed as it is now in science, ethics,

and if we wish in art; the sense of failure

is only a veil in which the failed conceals

a momentary faltering; and no matter why

the Individual pursued the game of forms,

the motive was only life, their art the thing,

the changelessness encapsulating change

human intelligence has always craved,

against the transience that drags us down.

It’s nothing new, read between the lines

of history, don’t take Clio at face value,

she’s a goddess indifferent to deep truth,

who only likes to keep her temple clear

of all confusion, and hates blank walls

would rather cover them with new décor

from the more verbally expansive ages.

The situation of our time is the situation

we were ever in, the same analysis

that Buddha articulated best appertains,

but not his solution. If enlightenment

means anything it means the freedom

to open the mind towards this universe

we never chose, and practise thought

rather than diving for the confessional.

To escape from becoming into being

is our dream, but the way there is not

through following. The gate of grass

opens only for the traveller alone.

If modernity builds higher towers:

if forces Baudelaire and Kierkegaard

knew, working to stifle the individual,

intensify: well, freedom always was

a difficult road; conformity is easy,

Virgil almost said, yet at least we see

that power is empty; that worship is

for those who stumble into obedience,

out of the heaven of free invention;

that a universe runs fine without intent;

that brain is us, such particular process,

complex and subtle, lovely and strange.

The model of society where some were

born to rule and others born to serve,

was fragile as the violence that made it:

no tyranny of the spirit can endure;

the desire for freedom is unquenchable,

more powerful than submission or love

in the end. We must be free, or lose

what we prize most, Individuality.

And history was full of rebellious minds,

if most were silent. The secret goal

they aimed at was not always what

they craved or thought they craved,

but often simply freedom from constraint,

to think against the powers that were;

so science began as curiosity, love

of the liberated mind, and must be such,

and what liberated minds see, too,

just like those nostalgic for the past,

is the darkness we humans end in,

when we forget what we must leave:

the light, and fail to cherish it enough.

Nothing has altered; the past ages

were full of dumb, blind, mute minds;

the great was always beyond the state.

No, our machines are neither here

nor there, though how we use them is;

and we should beware of listening

too closely to dark religious voices,

mourning their unrealised dead gods:

a loss of false heavens is a blessing.

Juvenal’s a siren too, he’s master

of all the failings we can muster

but hardly the whole story. A little

science is a dangerous thing, we

need more. Truth being the thing

we still can choose to labour for,

love and beauty, all truth can bring.


Sestina - Mind’s Music

There is no deeper meaning in the music.

In time we’ll find the better art of being

is to consider where true beauty lies,

so engineer existence for that beauty,

refuse the empty exercise of power,

and reinvent the nature of our world.

As we destroy the landscape of our world,

not Earth itself but its more human music,

or that at least whose ruin is in our power,

indifferent to the damage done our being;

and with that human music human beauty,

the metaphors in which our meaning lies,

we must not deceive ourselves with lies:

we are not the sole meaning of our world,

nor are we the source and end of beauty.

There is another and a deeper music,

that’s mute beneath the surfaces of power,

but signifies what granted us our being.

Through the in-woven process of our being

plays the deep truth beyond our subtle lies,

pointing the way beyond their sterile power.

Our bounded origin’s in the creature-world,

within whose utterance was born our music,

the language of all love and truth, all beauty.

Below the stars exists an earthbound beauty,

apparent in the eyes of every being,

the tremors of the mind that are our music,

the movements of intelligence that lies

within the depths of a remoter world

where every creature exercises power,

and is unique, that individual power

to be a self, which is the core of beauty,

to find a place in world, and be a world,

beyond the sphere of our habitual being,

to express the universe despite all lies,

and turn the silence of the hour to music.

Beneath the lies always the hidden beauty.

Our being is not wholly in time’s power.

Mind’s music is the meaning of the world.


Myth is the Psyche Inside-Out

To enter in the river of the other,

is simple,

no clue is needed in the hand,

meeting and acquaintance

are the door

through which we stumble

into the labyrinth,

disbelieving in the Minotaur

or unaware,

of what, deeper in, moves there.

To enter in the other requires

no hard questions,

no difficult assessments,

no stealthy attempt to extricate

self from the not-self,

mind’s light from darkness

and the hidden power

of the other,

its groans and sighs

with which we empathise.

That exit from the other is not easy,

we never learn,

have no strength to forget;

the nerves are bound;

there’s loss but after loss

the void is full of sounds,

clashing of metal,

and the roar of anger,

the howl of pain, eternally,

that engenders pity.

No one prepares for love

or hatred:

nothing will educate the machine

to comprehended passion;

within the self,

even the lover cannot guide us,

our cowardice our fears

the only markers,

through winding tunnels

subterranean funnels,

caves of the sunken streams

that flow through channels

cut by acidic water,

following the strata,

(not in turn soluble: resilient,

but always in the end compromised)

to flow to some new place

where they appear

strangely, escape

to unknown landscape.

Metaphors of complexity.

Caught in the other,

we discover neither,

but in confusion hold

to the dark’s illusion:

cradling the beast,

beauty, for us at least,

is the compassion,

that strange echoing thing,

otherness may bring.


Year’s End

Love be veiled in danger where you lie,

under the scope of a December sky

wrapped in the leavings of a deepest fear,

that in this glittering we’ll disappear,

of ice, in the arbour of the hostile air,

where the blue light encompasses a glare,

where tremors in the mist, of metal leaves,

shine their antipathy to whatever grieves.

Love be clothed in beauty where you are,

below and not above the wintry park,

antithesis to every fog-born star

that glows to terrify us from the dark.

Leap with the mind into another’s eye.

As being and becoming, give the lie

to every heart that is encased in stone.

Be dangerous, know danger to the bone.


This Is Not Reality

No words convey the senses.

So I find pleasure in those images

I would detest in reality,

an intellectual charm,

colours and contrast,

the counter-play of forms,

but would take no delight

in their true existence,

their dirt, their odour,

or their polished surfaces,

devoid of meaning.

That’s the lie of art,

of discourse, language.

What in reality I detest,

evade, is so transformed.

Light falls between

the words, the images,

and my disgust. Grappling

with life is not art. We go

darkly through landscapes

that seemed sweet below.


Erinye

It is all the voyeurism of the heart.

Though we hate violence, violence attracts,

sexuality or degeneration,

power or its opposite, torment,

delight or vengeance,

joy or annihilation.

It is the mystery of being human.

The psyche feeds on all experience,

it dreams the tale, the story,

but mind knows better,

awake to harm,

aware of the inner fury.


All That Concerns Us

After all this there’s the world itself.

Tomorrow, though we may think so,

is not today, the light has changed.

Unfamiliar planets move elsewhere.

Still our decision whether we choose

to live in the ruins of a civilisation,

or re-create one, in another image.

The constellations are a little older,

but not so the eye would notice,

the breeze a little darker, but there

lovers go, the children, the creatures,

empowered by summer, in its light,

and our defeats, our failures, material

though they were, the memory harsh,

regret like ice, attributable to ourselves

alone. The universe beyond our artifice,

gleams in the night sky, sunk stars rise

through the leaves’ resistance, the grass

cleanses the heart, we re-learn the cry,

in the inner mind, of all that concerns us.


Stream-wise

Green slopes in the dawn light,

and in my mind

an image of Venus rising

with the sun,

over dark water,

a tiny black

sphere on a bright balloon,

here the stream is clear,

runs thin between stones,

into the eye,

relation glimmers,

a deep concurrence.

How do we steer through life?

Not by orbit,

not by the risen metric

of the planets,

but perilously,

over dark water,

learning to ride the flows

of chance, or failing,

a stream run down

one way or another

from the sky,

in consequence.


Winter Music

Dark birds are circulating in the valleys,

Their valleys are repositories of silence.

The silence is of winter and the morning,

Bright dawn illuminates the wintry valleys.

Pale birds are circulating in the silence.

Wings flap against the solitude of morning.

The morning light illuminates the valleys,

And scatters birds along the edge of silence.

Lone birds go foraging along the morning.

The landscape resonates in lonely valleys.

The winter light encapsulates their silence.

The trees below the birds darken morning.

The misted stands of trees along the valleys

Hold birds, the dark intelligence of morning.

They cluster, minds, inside the sylvan silence

Whose dawn illuminates their wintry valleys.


Seeker

Moving matter of light leaps lunar beauty,

valleys shaken in darkness, sheerest tremor

in folded stone under white stream, shudder

singing soaring down mind-swayed channel

errant brightness crying in wilder patterns,

bold scrambling runs edged over precipices.

See, in mind’s eye, now, scale green passes,

clash of the wind, seeker of distant shingle

knock of the tide, slither of shining pebble,

of metaphors of the heart, unbridled seeker,

wind-bent music, wildfire of sudden being,

or simple cluck of the stones on icy beaches,

gather them seeker, bury in moving matter,

tremors of thought, fingers of lunar beauty.


No Denying

Nature lacks all reproach, the creature

falls to another creature,

tides strip bare

each coastal feature,

Nature lacks all reproach,

though we care.

Slowly the valleys are exposed to light,

time makes them seas.

Storms unaware

dissect the trees.

Slowly the valleys alter

as they wear.

Time denies all reproach, why do we

in our remorse, too late

to disturb what’s there,

think to re-calculate,

to live without error,

as we dare?


Beyond the Metaphors

Wind-scalloped juniper, bowed pine,

root on green islands

split the white fall:

all here is unsure,

foam flows,

the Tao,

is its own metaphor.

Rain-smoothed rock, pliant juniper,

hunched pine in stone

dissect the stream,

who dare ask more

than this pure

being,

its own metaphor?


Homeric

What Ulysses most needed to beware of

was his own voice singing.

The seductive lie

is already within.

Athene fights

to counter Hermes.

The wise articulation is the worst.

Better a simple cunning,

how to make

wooden horses;

stay away

from Helens.

Floating by desolate islands

is no life for a knower,

(though we do it)

even when

written up later

by some cleric.

The one-eyed giant

we blinded

was our self.

We should

have stuck

to eating lotus,

seen that Calypso-Circe

was Penelope,

turning us

endlessly

into her

errant suitor;

been more aware

of time and distance,

less reliant

on the wind and waves,

more careful

of our friends.

Between Scylla

and Charybdis

what difference;

evading passion

and emotion,

by the skin of our teeth?


At The Edge

The poem is grasped on the edge of mind,

a contour of intelligence that moves

with the line of sight, is the eye

at a peculiar angle

or the voice inside the mind

which is not the voice you hear,

I could not reproduce it,

the poem its echo,

a solid fragment

of ethereal life,

already wavering

in the stream of the other.

The poem is an intelligence of feeling,

the urge which is a form endorsing logic

and if you think thinking is achieved

without feeling, think again,

though reason is founded

in the world

its reality is endorsed by feeling,

not merely that things do as they do,

but that they do as we expect

or not,

as I exist, making, in your mind,

or not.

Poetry without intellect, is no better

than feeling without intellect,

is not this place to breathe,

where something of being-here

is transformed to place,

to object, form, shape of the mind

at the edge before the scream,

or having screamed in the space

Linus or Orpheus left behind,

a trace betrayed

of what

we swim through, gasping.

Poetry is beyond its particulars, not

as Plato imagined, but like mathematics,

the feeling of a form, the tilt

of a life, of lives,

but no greater

than its smallest element,

the flick of mind,

which is likewise the element

of which we flow,

ephemerally here,

on the edge

of something.

Poetry is an unfounded act of the primary

imagination, flight on the edge of night,

along the line of interior landscape,

a mimicry mimicking a voice,

half-heard of self,

in mind, all unqualified

to search the mindless,

except by virtue

of a certain feeling,

in which so tentatively

filled with darkness

thought comes to life.


At The Keyboard

Being is not beneath its appearances.

If only we could convince ourselves

that we were mind and let mind flow

with all the ease of these appearances,

a pianist lost at last in the performance,

free of name and form, the expression

of no audience, no self, only the music.

Being is not what mind emerges from.

If only we could be what we now feel,

a sense of the dim crescendo or the jar

of furthest assonance, slow modulation

through all these shifts of recognition,

these touches of the light and darkness,

if we could be as subtle as they seem.

Being is not the movement of the leaf,

or the fall, at once shifting and still,

form and its ephemeral manifestation,

word and its utterance, symbol in our

equations, some thing or process out

of all cognition, beyond the tangible:

being is music, being is what mind is.


Walking Late

We have time for this, in light between the trees,

the echo of ourselves as inconsequential detail,

the air in a void of space that is almost human.

We have time for our re-assertion of existence.

For a moment there we were lost in the others,

distracted by too much given and not needed,

given and unasked for, too many dull voices

like a heaviness in the body, fear in the mind.

We confused ourselves, looking for some reply

in our own clear speech from what encircles us,

expecting reason in the wildest of un-reasons,

an order where nothing has decreed like order.

Now we climb again to the rock-bound stream,

its flow pure ice, its colour the sky’s clear grey,

and try to lay aside what it is we brought here.

When all else fails we still have time for this.


Out Of This Light

Out of this light did you, my lover,

deep in all history, discover

what lunar magic mind once made

here in the leaves so displayed,

to eyes’ delight

at dead of night;

as at your door must now be laid?

You, was it, learned when hours are gone,

mind transformed by dreaming done,

no beauty once is beauty past,

the thread that’s tightened holds time fast,

and all desire

white web of fire,

is through those endless waters cast?

That this bright arc like daylight pure

shivering in silence, gleams as sure

though time and change erode again

both face and mind, there is no when,

and all the joys

clear light employs

erase the flow of now and then?

Here, in the well of dark, my lover,

shall you, once more, such truth discover

that lunar magic mind has made

and in the bright leaves so displayed,

sweeter than all

the stars that fall

must rise again, dispel the shade?


Interrogation

There is a certain depth

associated with reality

that the mind

cannot evade,

that is poetry.

The world behind the head

is no longer relevant,

the truth is there

the mind is bare,

that is poetry.

Though we would like

to evade the sheer

effort of trying

to speak without lying,

there is poetry.

Nothing that you can say

or do can silence

what calls to us,

enrages us,

that is poetry.

It is not here or there;

in the everywhere

that forms us

and deforms us

is the poetry.

Another nature there

another world

another universe

unrehearsed

that is poetry.

Beyond allegiances

except the one,

a challenge to

all integrity

that is poetry.


Ancient Song

What did I wish when time was young?

The tree where golden fruit was hung;

pale lamps that lit the leaves green

with mysteries of the night, unseen

but bright with that unearthly glow:

branched imagination, here below.

What will I wish when time is old?

The tree of light, its phantom gold.


Neither

The language of our morning utters us.

The substance of our universe directs us,

like puppets in a play we must perform,

although we might detest the characters.

Our tongue creates this morning language.

We re-shape the substance of our being.

Like Ariel through reality we whisper,

disposing of the elements we conjure.

The way we go is not the way we wished.

The meaning of character is this rigidity,

imposed. The outcome of the final lines

is as the first breath sweetly indicated.

At every instant this new world exists,

the old is done with in our macrocosm.

Though self is but its choices, we chose,

and not some arbitrary force beyond us.

The words of evening calmly speak to us.

The meaning of our time is what we made.

The world is not a stage, we still reserve

awareness far outside the roles we play.

Our unpredetermined voices murmur,

in a dialogue with what surrounds us,

the irreality where self and universe

become the one thing we experience.

The language of evening is this silence

in which a wisp of meaning implicates

us in the destination and the journey

neither of which were quite as we think.


White Peak

The character of this place is something beyond us,

yet inside; we assess its gentleness, its curve

of green fields endlessly retreating to far slopes

that gather cloud, gleam with occasional light;

it snares the wind, arcs a stream,

mixes bare deciduous with pine,

acquires names, remains itself,

is nothing we could have dreamed of,

eschews assertion, adumbrates

an aspect of ourselves, intentionless,

seems in motion always,

dropping into a valley, raising a hill,

complicating into detailed woodland,

smoothing slowly fine across horizons.

An island in an island, this limestone dome

has its own form of light, strange tenderness:

hard not to sound anthropomorphic; secretive,

we say, meaning folded into hollows,

declivities of shade and stone, rivers of dark

clear water, emerald weed, heron shores,

pebbled lairs of the smallest fish,

territory of the dipper and the wren,

wild flowers and grasses,

an uplift leading from the dark moor, childhood,

to this pale landscape of freedom,

where the mind is answerable to nothing, no one,

where human fate is an awareness,

where beauty is truth in Keats’ sense, form realised.

Drift the long valleys, along the visible or invisible

waterways, cross the rakes, climb the slopes always

steeper than they look, the dales deeper, the cut

of tree through stone, stone against tree, sharper,

the eye led gently into finer purer gradation,

or travelling the landscape, raised

as if physically, to feel the heights

and know that shape of flow that moves

out of the dark valley there to the green summit,

the place from which unsung peoples looked west

towards uncrossed distance, setting suns,

or east towards edges of the upraised land,

south to outfalls, north to the watersheds,

dreamt of the clear silver, watched it rise.

The places of imagination, like those of love,

are not metaphors, though in the intentionless

we grant things meaning, say that a holly leaf

is a boundary between form and not-form,

identity, expression of all presence; a stone

is the transfer of time, its flaked adherence

to us, its totality of moments in the moment,

which are only the thing it is, and no more;

that distance and nearness are two faces

of the sole phenomenon, and both are real;

but these things are not metaphors,

they are the transmigrations of our thoughts

into the substance of what is not-thought,

the significances which we endow.

And beside everything we might do, the landscape

has a character; shows its own cast of features,

to which description does no justice nor

the effort to choose words that exceed, as words,

the reason for their placement and become

glittering lumps of language that detract

from the object of our love; we need

a speech as soft as the dialect of lost places

that lingers here, in long savoured vowels

gentle as pure stream-water, ash-rooted:

that might seem more fitting to a lover,

since how is that loved which is not its self,

and how can its parts be loved and not the whole

distillation of unique identity?


The False Anthology

The wrong creations were anthologised.

We missed the essence: in familiar notes,

in the endless attraction of the superficial

that represents a style and not the sense,

losing the person in the impersonal,

which is the fate of art; conjured there

an old intimation of anticipated music,

not that new and stranger shift of keys.

The wrong hands touched the wrong face,

the wrong wave fell on fallacious shores.

The landscape we love is what he always

faintly disliked, the too well known echo,

and what he loved was nothing of all this,

but the real landscape and the other music,

the one that sounded in an interior silence,

not meant for us, or any semblance of us.


Legend

Innocent, the heroine or hero always

has something of our own childhood,

the open question or unanswered call,

the shapelessness before accepted form.

There is always a resistance involved,

too pliant a protagonist is weakening,

life drags us unwillingly along the way,

though granting us its secret helpers:

the world’s foolishness and cruelty,

our own perception of love and beauty

beyond the mere fragments that adhere

to whatever landscapes we inherited;

the material must be hard (or what credit

accrues to the adventurer in setting forth?)

the chisel has to rebound from marble;

or over-soft (extracting gold from mud,

is equally meritorious). There is a climb

against impossible odds, chance involved,

but that succession of successes, destiny,

and not the usual fumbling and failing,

though an admixture of human weakness

confesses the lovable nature of heroics,

that no one knows why they are done,

least of all the heroine or hero, they

are too busy with the task, the skills

required, the vicissitudes of fate, the time,

the weather, the next puzzle to unravel,

the next angle of the labyrinth, prepared

for anything but boredom, the true peril

that surrounds us, our ultimate danger.

There is a prize, even if only the sense

of order achieved, in our own image.

Everymanwoman descends the mountain

clutching something, if only self-respect,

or exhaustion, or the escape from mindless

duty into the freedom of the purposeless.

Thank goodness for friends along the way,

for our insensitivity to the ogres’ feelings,

the sense of black and white, the simplicity

of journeys where right is other than wrong,

where truth and falsehood show emblems

of perfect clarity, and we can always pity.

There is no shortage of interfering guides,

opinionated knowers, unthinking ritualists,

and no shortage of passages to negotiate.

Yet for the one self, whose flag is freedom,

who cares nothing for the fate of worlds,

there is always another mode than epic;

mind makes no assumptions, mountains

are plains, prizes are stones; every thing

is an answer, and a question; moving

nowhere as challenging as to advance.

The eighth son is the one who refuses

the quest, the eighth daughter quietly

slips away before the action opens,

into the grass, beyond the limits

already seen and understood. Rites

of passage lead to the dull labyrinth

where the old roarer waits, like Lear,

to annoy us with irritating ramblings.

Thankfully there’s Arden, better still

what survives Arden and renews us,

an unexpected universe dispersing

our absurd cries in its immense void.


No Return

The spaces of fluidity delight,

where form dissolves,

the water flows,

the sea, the cloud,

the forest leaves,

the grass, the moor,

moonlight and the dark.

It is not true that form

is what all art seeks,

it equally

seeks the release

from form,

sleep and forgetting,

dream deliquescence.

Sweetly we go as deep

shaking off faith, free

of past loyalties

(though who’ll confess?)

once again

loosed from the womb,

ready for anything.


Old Ballad

Shall we two walk by this clear moon,

deep in the forests of the night,

despise the worldly, late and soon,

whose only lure is appetite?

In your eyes I see all that’s bright,

the clarity of innocence,

unspoilt by years of foolish sense,

that from the wrong extract the right.

Shall we be free of world that never

owned our allegiance, sweetly sever

every tie that binds us there

to the universe of care?

In your two eyes I see those deeps

that nullify ten thousand years

of human interests and fears;

in your two eyes, where beauty keeps

her true domain, the waking dream,

in which all ages only seem,

a fitful and a passing gleam

along the margin of the stream.


Confrontation

She sits beside the stream and is his fate,

that much we understand of the plot,

the given, but never confuse

the why with the how,

the how is what is important

not the why, which is mere science

or Freudian superstition.

Analysis is not the life lived, is not

what burns along the veins and harms

the reason, the mechanisms

are not the revelation,

which is always self and the desire,

always more important than mere science

which explains nothing.

I do not descry the science, in its place,

which is not the place of significance

we think, there are no gods

not even human ones,

and if you do not see the darkling plain

and feel the brilliance of the stars,

how can this help you?

Climbing the mountain of the self

the heroic come to a blind gully,

where there is nothing more

to confront but the self,

that is the plot, we know it,

but the plot is not the confrontation.

She sits beside the stream and is his fate.


More Than Silence

Mind moves through metaphor,

by making more

of the world than it makes of itself,

by generalising,

until the sole self is universal,

the bloated everymanwoman of the plot,

or vanishes into the social, the sway

of crowd en masse that some adore,

though mind would make more

than a social ant heap.

Mind moves in metaphors.

The Self abhors

its selfishness that feigns a tolerance

it does not feel

as the price of functioning at all,

puzzled but admiring of those who go

so related to others they do not know

that they can see in them humanity

and not the simply more

of all too much.

Mind dies into its own metaphors.

They become moral laws

science, religion, ritual, everything

claiming to define us

who are forever beyond the definition,

instanced by those who elude always,

not tokens in the games others play,

so do not figure in our histories,

of whom the others cannot hear

their more than silence.


The Low

Limestone, also, these flat stones

they left behind;

once standing sentinel perhaps

on the green ridge

now the shaped circle seen best from above,

this ditch and summit

littered by these pointers,

unknown usage,

unimaginable peoples

all shadows here

as we are shadows here

of a different impermanence.

A long slow walk to reach here

over fields between grey-white walls,

green hollows of rain water

sun in a high sky,

the silence cool and certain.

Lots of their leavings

under the ground,

nothing apparent

but the tumuli,

these tables of sedimentary stone,

suggestions of their tracks,

though such might be younger.

All of it shifting too, under our feet.

Why description is never

enough, history being solely

what exists,

no more, if denied our inferences.

No stone axes no figurines,

no more than in passing we leave behind,

no language,

no upland art

except these big stones

brought here somehow

no one too sure how.

You can read what you wish

into such ‘monuments’

all ideas are valid,

the truth no easier to read

than our thoughts

(as we turn, to return)

of spirit or matter

this place or elsewhere,

ritual or aimlessness,

dream or appetite,

why not say all of those,

humanity in every mode?

The purposes we think we build for

are only aspects of what we create,

sometimes the least.

Perhaps courtyards are greater

for the thoughts that passed through them

than themselves,

the living and not the dead function,

these stones, say,

on their green summit,

attracting transient mind

acting as nodes,

fusing the centuries.


Fire And Air

Big trees fall on the ridge.

Civilisations weary,

imagination fails,

but the view opens.

Whatever crashed down

cleared the brush,

carved perspectives,

became an insect hollow,

fuelled regeneration

through quiet decay;

wasteland or great pond

neither is here to stay.

The patch of wide sky

was never visible from here,

until the structures fell,

the ruined timbering.

Absence of thought,

the palsied silence,

is not a consequence

of lack of matter.

Plough over the dead,

exercise a freedom,

release the butterfly

from its shroud,

watch it soar as if

it never felt the web,

shrug off the sense

of the inevitable;

have we not learnt by now

nothing human is

inevitable, necessity

is as the mind requires;

boredom, inspirer

of curiosity, cries

for new horizons

in the darkness,

whatever you may say,

or tone you may adopt;

content beats style,

ultimately,

the seducer’s voice

is emptiness and cold,

absence and subtle chaos,

a sense of alien dumbness,

but we, the only givers,

can never rest in style,

(our endless matter

is the far universe)

the most seductive

most to be resisted,

howling or keening,

or describing either,

yet we must hear it;

it is not in the voices

of those happiest

with world as it is,

the perilous music.

The world is not asleep,

mind has no end,

we are fire and air.


The Inevitability Of Involvement

On a day when thought is quiet,

the mind suspended, eyesight

without intention, flows instead

blue-grey fissure, layered rock,

whose thorn trees root in shallow

matted grass and moss, where

an angle of dry-stone wall runs

against the outcrop, and ceases.

The lack of anything to grasp

or feel, cool as drenched fields,

may be a step closer to what is

without inflection, is language

less, and devoid of expression,

but even this the mind interprets:

we call the landscape benign,

the weather, as it is, peaceful.

Even here the branch of a thorn

flung across its trunk, the mask

that eye conceives above, this

smoothed shoulder turned, fall

into material echo of half-seen

ancient face, some shape caught

as in a moment of odd movement,

arresting, memorable, changing

the aspect of this run of ledges,

on which it sits, a woodland god,

teasing imagination, forcing us

to declare a meaning, realise

that this is what we do, minds

indissoluble, un-resting, even

when they seem to be asleep,

forever interpolating meaning.

No, even with the mind quiet

we are no nearer the mindless

inner core of nature, distant

still from such thing in itself,

insisting on metaphor, symbol,

tracing out the boundary lines,

imposing significance, owning

recognition, anticipating word.

Standing silent to empty mind,

it fills remorselessly with forms,

fragmented shadows, memories,

interpretations of elusive darks

and lights, becomes the corner

of some old master’s canvas

where a detail we’re unsure of

resonates in turbid chromatism,

until we see more power there

than in the ostensible subject,

like those elusive figures seen

in formless stains, the patterns

of the virtual self we compose,

fluttering phantasm in the flow,

as we ride currents of thought,

grasping at gleam, flare, tremor.

So here despite the passive mind,

its enervation, this inner silence,

the stone is not simply limestone,

the trees are not simply thorns,

the core of place not simply there.

We seep into it despite ourselves,

without exertion, putting out no

effort in assimilation, no reach

towards the immanent existent,

all perception being a re-pass

of meaning in this afternoon;

all objects subjects that must

transcend whatever being is,

to be whatever this we realise

of their uprising; hand, eye

and mind already universe.


Say How We Failed

Pity the creatures trapped in our detritus

or worse.

The seal its liquid eye caught in the foam

filled with flotsam

rippling over tarmac.

What should they understand

of what this is, result of us

(though indirect)

Pity the uncomprehending eye

the alien warmth

out of oily coldness

briny being.

We can’t laugh now at indulgence, only

feel this endless sense of recognition,

or worse.

The tanker riding high, the wave-washed jetty

are no longer simple objects of beauty;

the apercus, the descriptions

without moral significance,

except that inferred

by gazing,

are not enough.

The over-sensitive must shut their eyes,

blinded, blind as the insensitive,

an irony.

There is only so much one heart can take,

displaying empathy is not a weakness,

nor its silence something we can buy

just as no one has a price

coercion is no purchase,

mind is free.

The dying whale has judged us,

the tarred gulls stop us resting in nature,

the seal wallowing disoriented

in our sordid flotsam

disturbs the mind,

the shining lady

naked from her swim

has lost the living robe

we cannot return,

till even the dark of the breeze

troubles us now.


A Reading

Here is your heart now,

the kiss of a stranger,

the hand of the clown,

the bringer of danger.

The distance is fatal,

the darkness obscure,

that shape in the mist

is the perilous lure.

Here is your heart now,

the flurry of wings,

the scratching of thorns

the newcomer brings,

a bringer of danger,

the kiss of a stranger,

the hand of a clown,

the newcomer’s frown.


Hypostasis

The object grew larger climbed from the poem

and killed him. It began as perception, swelled

to his words, later reached out its octopus arms,

searching him for his ethical stance; his view

from surrounding hills of the central summit;

his metaphysics; his ability to defend pure art,

rather than show the gifted performer’s talent,

despite that excess of skill beyond the others.

The object grew deeper, translated his history,

became the succession of lies we call making,

until he no longer possessed himself, but that

image of self, promoted endlessly, enervating.

World had a life of its own, seemed to mock

the stance of the creator through the uncreated,

always more copious, wider and more intense;

an antithesis of the dream that possessed him,

without his knowledge, of freezing time, place,

and his particulars no one else dared confute,

which in time become a minor myth, the sort

worth an hour or two, capable of being traded.

The object loomed over his conventional grave,

squatted like Fuseli’s nightmare above his dust,

the gape of its mindless features, the furrows

in its solid face like a worn smile of dismissal.

The object, swollen, occupied his landscape,

questioned authenticity, laid out for us errors,

bare inconsistencies, showed him not the man

he had believed himself to be, not even close.

The object, which would endure long beyond

his fatal evanescence, flaunted his epitaph

in eloquent silence: he ended still where he

began, in glittering mastery of the easy truth.


In Lieu Of A Mythology

Green pine and grey stone walls

are not your region. Time flares,

where you are, in flowing seas,

cooling the shores of everwhen.

Where we meet in dream must

be enough, where we conjoin

in words that are the meaning

of the mind, at least its dower.

You are the image of our hour.

If we owned to a mythology,

you would inhabit trees, arc

in streams, be breeze or bird.

As it is, night must condescend

towards us, this real century

lie between us like the waves

in which our passages elude.


Beware

Being is not a medium, that’s mere fancy.

Because time seems to move, be wary,

it is the world that re-configures where

you lean above the abyss on that chair.

To move against the dark flow of time,

would be to question fate we imagine,

so push against the all of what we are,

and yet we are the river where it goes.

The shining appearances, the shimmer,

are not some revelation of the hidden.

They are the depths all on the surface,

and being is this presence in the mind,

which also is a presence in the world,

and world in mind as mind in world;

the reflection is the mirror; phantom

trees stand firmly rooted in the void:

we walk between their immanence.

Where you sit the night is deeper,

but what is moving in the vortex

is no separate essence to the mind.

Being is not an attribute of things,

as mind is not an attribute of self:

you change the universe, beware,

merely by rising from your chair.


Savages

Exaltation we understood, not happiness,

which was altogether an aftertaste,

a feeling for the feeling gone by,

or for the feeling in anticipation,

but never the momentary itself.

It would have required those powers

of acceptance, acquiescence, we

never possessed. Freedom required

an always moving on from always

moving on, an unrest to be savoured,

which in the moments when time stood

still and we two exceeded time passing,

we now remembered as true happiness,

despite that unhappiness still persisting

in the other layer of our savage minds.


Wave Functions

Driving behind glass into evening landscape,

the shadows of the hills make identity

from curves and hollows; they stand

over against eternity much as we do,

flashing by to the hiss of radio static

as we lose the channel in singing air,

and the orchestra left quaintly hanging

as a resonance somewhere in substance,

in a stranger meta-level of civilisation

layered on more ancient rocks and trees.

Out beyond stacks of gulled stone lies

the flashing code of Virginia’s lighthouse,

or not exactly hers, but her metaphor

for the goal not understood, wished-for

and deceptive, on these different shores.

Hear the music play! The waves return,

and into them we vanish, to reappear,

or not exactly us, rather our metaphor,

the moving wake art embodies, gleams

of complexity in a departing landscape.


The Fall Of The Convention

What frees me is not easily explained,

the loss sometimes as much as finding,

or rather the dissolutions surprise me,

attentive to those feelings that ramify,

unlock strange corners, re-emphasise,

expressing, like the trees as light goes,

their images, tremors twice forgotten.

What the world claims should liberate

often proves a prison, conventional

expectations of what hearts should

feel, or the mind display, but then I

am not the self the world conceives,

nor even the self as known, rather I

am the shifting self all this has made.

That quiet man in the corner refutes

in himself the bright acceptable tear,

that woman resting is engaging now

in slightest moves of the inner spirit

that reconfigure this whole universe,

which for us is perception, purpose,

and not its intentionless unknowing.

What the world claims should free me

feels like death, and my own self life,

not to be hidden behind, nor traduced,

but listened to in its integrity, purer,

beyond any fictions the past created,

whose ties are those I choose, there

in the depths with which I commune,

whether consciously, or unconsciously:

what will science know of what is held

only in language as it moves and plays,

in the languages of feelings, individual

tongues imbuing words with meaning,

where the outcomes exceed the scope

of the model, and exist in irreal time.

Be prepared to feel other than you are,

and not as others anticipate, be true

to what within is the unrepeatable

burning of the individual fire, not

some result of superficial wisdom.

What makes me free is not as you

may dream, nor what confines me.


Gods Of The Knotted Forehead

What god now could conceive us,

such shadows in the air of unfamiliar

beauty, like the dancing of the hare,

a dancing over hollows, of snow

and icy ground, between the fir

plantation and that stony mound,

a dancing on a bright field, through

a gateway in the rain, beyond a god’s

conception, all making, and its strain?


Not Separate

That the self’s created from the not-self,

the mind from matter, shows the error

of distinctions, the need to concentrate

instead on structure, the self-organised;

the magnitude of Darwin’s revelation,

made more shocking by the realisation

nothing external to the means at hand

was necessary or essential, so nothing

needing adding to the elements, forces,

in order the whole thing be composed,

in one continuum from stone to sight,

the human form out of the non-human.

The constituents of ferns, the beads

of water, the layers of rock, the hand,

the eye, leaf-bound clatter of wings,

all one moving course of energies,

self-born, sifted in the bright sieve,

as if a pure winnowing in the light

gave birth to shapes, this plunge

of life like the water from a rock,

sweeping through air and shifting

in its fall, cascading in plenitude,

like an act of mind, and yet not,

instead self risen out of not-self,

the processes of matter making

the consciousness of mind until

in the glitter of outpouring light,

the human, the inhuman are one.


One Self-Portrait Among Many

His face itself being the object fluctuates

in a medium of light and dark, one eye

vanishes into liquid silence, one is hurt

and aged, the brush has lovingly moved

over the textures, but left the geometric

background bare, an old wall’s bareness

filled with Leonardesque lines and form

in which anything is possible, like dream.

Looking at all these selves, which is self,

or rather how shall the substance speak

of hidden process, except by revelation,

which is a question of what life betrays

in the face? For instance a young mind

moves in an old man’s eye? Age serves

better as metaphor of transience, suits

therefore expressions of tragedy, loss,

not necessarily the inner flow, which

may be responding not to deep pity

for the human world, but natural light,

and the landscapes of distant memory.

The face in a glass reflecting, the face

in a window superimposed on nature,

a ghost on the trees, knows inwardness,

a place perhaps where chasing the word

mind sinks onto what seems to unravel

the mystery, the shock of being here

and to be gone, the essential absurdity,

what the poor circus clown points at,

the impossible shoes, the giveaway nose

on a piece of stylised flesh, ridiculous

being eating away at all sense of flight

beyond, the intransigence of ladders.

Here the face of genius is exactly the face

of all of us, and the inwardness ambiguous

form. Shape suggests our true dimension.

The thistle stands resilient in the corner

of a field. The tree suggests survival,

the fractured stone vicissitudes of time.

Energies and their lack create metaphor,

in the realisation of what indicates us,

natural energies, the dark our background;

the lights that frame the head a signal;

the stance the gaze absorption; the tools

in the hand I came, I saw, I vanished.


Why One Is Many

In the green light the deep life sings.

The words on the page unread move

already in mind towards the leaves

on windblown trees, leaves of glass.

The phantom in the green light is

body not thought. Mind more real

than what is outside the process

contemplates its strange eternity

outside time, a product of time.

So all function, in its connection,

dependent on time but timeless,

that will fulfil itself uninterrupted.

The library of uninterrupted voices,

is already in the mind, the unheard

louder, as the moon is already risen

though the sky is dark and empty.

The stars are already glinting far

on the edges of a peculiar galaxy

singling itself for points of mind

flickering, small, in its immensity,

but larger than the leaves damp

with the passing showers green

with the deep light now that sings

and lives, and is still irreducible.


Near The Trees

The evening fire is gentle,

smoke blows

across a long perspective,

the slopes waver

thoughts float like bits

of bark on water,

steering them

with a breath

a leaf shakes to a leaf

the air tastes

rock is cold

frost will glitter later

to feel a deer

emerge from trees

would be good

to know it there

in the shadows

watching

unconcerned

and delicate

as the tones

of landscape

quieter

than a cloud field

quiet as a mountain

in white fog

the fields

of hollow light.


Tributary

Gradually the quiet intensifying,

penetrating to the deeper valley,

between these limestone ledges

these scaly layers, the outcrops,

until at the furthest corner where

a tributary valley falling merges

there is complete and satisfying

silence, with not even a bird cry,

only cloud, rock, bare dark trees,

and no desire to break the calm,

rather the need to intensify it all,

the muddied grass, mossed stone,

dormant wildflowers, ash slopes,

resonances in the depths of mind,

until from beneath a beaten path,

out of a crevice, the source rises,

clear gush of water into the light,

and sounds its way along the cleft,

past the roots of an ancient hazel,

heart now imagining the power

of what vast volumes once wore

this place, carved out its heights

and steeps, its hollows, formed

that angle of silence, not human,

and this constant noise, this flow

itself like quiet, the shining peace.


Need

There you walk slowly,

and there you walk softly,

bringing the hours love

needs for its calling,

the hours without end

equating to minutes,

the infinite moments,

where being is falling.

There you speak softly,

and there you go slowly,

bringing the accents love

needs for its sighing,

the accents of music

that no longer speaks us,

the infinite accents,

where being exceeds us.

There you walk softly,

there you walk slowly,

bringing the strength love

needs for time, dying,

the strength of the stone,

the light of the star,

the strength to endure

the love that we are.


Reclaim

Make no assumptions, though the words

are in a language with deep associations:

do not infer beliefs or reasons simply

because they echo your predilections.

Language is as we define it, prior use

must be overtaken, existence shaken,

by the reclamation of words, renewal,

so: blessing, redemption, love may not

be as you determine, nor the bright dead

making their claim on eternity, doomed

instead to ebb and transience, our destiny.

In speech meaning drowns as in the sea,

its wreckage moves submerged appears

to the light again transformed strangely.

Take language by the scruff of the neck

and make it express the lambent spaces,

which in their emptiness add resonance

to words that posited a hidden presence,

and what resounds after the dismantling

may be more precious now, more human.


Winter And Summer Are One

The world grows greater towards afternoon.

the sunlight brighter, the imagination clearer

as shadows vanish. What has departed was

always too faint for light, too insubstantial.

The human mind flickers now under the leaves

which also flicker, in another manner, green

eyes of assurance, structures made of nothing;

flares on the branch of day with no poverties.

What left was never as strong as we imagined,

stronger when seen as the glow of imagination.

Now the great sun rises as before, unlimited,

the gentlest word is a movement of its flames,

the slightest look a galaxy of meaning, all time

resonating in a landscape free of the darkness,

each self the self it is, calling out its suchness,

in the bright afternoon of the great sun rising.


Blackbird At Evening

There in the confines of the ear, the blackbird

high in the branches of the pear tree is making

a song out of something embedded in a feeling,

greater than self, than the dark boughs of the pear

bowing to the southern sky, than the mechanisms

of the song, the bones and flesh of the taut throat,

greater than the space in which it exists, or that

to which it cries, the outer space which is inner

and so bounded, and so equal to the limitations

of identity, no larger than a thought, less intricate

than the modulations of the song which is not even

human but which we comprehend gratuitously,

knowing the infinite spaces cease to matter, are

simply matter and not mind, that the bird is mind

singing beyond the canopy of vibrant half-light,

in a state of unconscious exaltation, unintended

grace, fulfilling the residue inside of millennia,

careless of galaxies, the whirls of ice and light.

Its song is a life flowing outwards in the air,

this trembling in the confines of the ear, purer

than matter’s conjuring of light, night’s sighs.


As I Walked Out

As I walked out where beauty flickered

in the dark where bright stars glittered,

I imagined you, your being echoed in

the spaces there.

Where Venus in the west hung glowing

smaller than mind would wish it, knowing

its light reflected fire, its glimmer

an orb laid bare,

I thought of you, to nothing’s fabric

bringing an altered flame, fantastic

shapes of the mind, ideas approaching

that bright flare,

its silver abstract gleam no message

its meaning simply what we granted

in our mythologies and might alter

if we care,

finding the thought of you as cogent,

your being in the night as lucent;

how to see beauty and uniqueness

and not compare.


Tracks

Follow the level tracks where the rails ran,

now uprooted,

walk the bends that reveal a far green landscape

of darker coils and windings

hidden waters,

follow the margins of ash and hawthorn,

hazel and alder,

that fringe the track,

savour the clouds, flashes of sun,

the shelter of the empty cuttings,

the momentary height on bridges,

the darks below them,

until you reach the familiar place

where some alignment of sundry hills,

the angle of the fields, the lack

of roads, the sough of wind alerts you

to a fierce perfection.

Stand, stranger here, where time

neglects your desolation,

attenuating, grasps the light

and thrusts it through a needle’s eye

to fall to the deeper clefts,

to change your mood,

its offer a land of farms and villages,

fieldstone walls, soft coloured slopes,

things for which there is no analogy,

then follow the contour’s curve,

the bedding planes, the fractured rock

explosives split, the camber

of a long-gone passage to the north,

past wildflower steeps to fields,

past gateway silences,

and nettled corners,

to the heart of this.


What They Do

The buzzards don’t call out for something new,

wheel in the old young sky,

hang over distant dry

fields down there

clear to plummet

buffeted to slide

through the blue,

climb steeps of liquid air,

watch far below

green fields, accustomed detail,

but each new gust new freedom,

down stands of pine soughing,

past layers of windblown rock.

Life brief, not complicated, getting by

in soaring fiercely over spaces,

patrolling bright ridges,

heather scrub and streambeds,

or the long

cool green

slopes leading out of stillness,

contained, absorbed in flight;

and when the work is over

end it

and survive.


A View

A child’s eye view, a love of planet,

everything working, nothing intended,

the plants perhaps most

beautiful,

grass waves in the light,

no nations,

the first possessors

un-possessing

flowing through.

Million years, one year, at a glance,

the land un-blurred

a lightning

stand

of stone and bone,

of seed and stem,

languages of instinct, all of feeling

in the fading vision,

of living earth.

If we had not got here,

if we had not:

a world without purpose

without ethics,

(much as now?)

but not without pain, delight,

affection,

how else

to conceive of paradise?


Pity For The War-God

Let Ares sleep, his mind is full

of too much repetition,

his rites are brutal, see his shrine,

a world in demolition.

Let Ares sleep, his work is done,

no purpose in petition,

the innocent may plead, the plan

demands their slow attrition.

Let Ares sleep, his heart of steel

is free of all contrition,

untroubled by the blood and pain,

destruction his sole vision.

But let him sleep, for he is tired

of forcing each position,

only to end where he began,

imprisoned by his mission.


Slow Creation

The way is simply what goes,

with no end, and no intent,

the outcome peace, simplicity,

freedom from contention,

wisdom, healing, beauty,

all in it from the start,

as are their opposites.

The way proceeds lightly,

with leaves, twigs, dust,

and pollen particularly,

yellow mist on wych-hazel,

and no intrinsic errors,

everything open, all free

to give and take each other,

power slipped away,

instead a growing,

a simple passing by of what

no longer concerns us

a dream of slow creation,

its balm, its music.


Have No Fear

Dying too is quiet here, the landscape

continues, stone endures,

the muddied silence dries

or, rain-washed, cleanses,

and compared with us is always

beyond death,

under Deneb or a winter sky

of circumpolar stars,

the slow moon rising.

Life is the essence of the survivor, place

endures by presence not absence,

and if water grieves

its sudden falls its deep submergence

there is no trace of sadness

in its glitter,

equal in being to the distant points

of flickering light above,

astringent in their coldness.

Within the magic ring of settled stones,

such calm at evening magnifies

the spirit thrilling

to minute life of plants and creatures,

the going on, the endless

going on,

keeping the heart from care, yielding

nature’s only meaning

a beautiful persistence.

Lodging something deep in the mind,

the message of the universe:

have no fear,

the absence of thought itself a thought,

your empty body before you were born

your heritage

the white bones of the mouse, the wren

blending with earth, and no

more dying then.


Evening Fog

The landscape under fog and the old mine

vanishes, the skyline lost,

trees gone too, no breeze, light

soft and smoky as wet leaves,

anticipating cold the farms silent, tractors,

trucks parked in damp yards,

the stone houses quiet,

the world a hollow place

but deep in there hidden fires.

Walking a long slope over Lathkill

ash trees loom, mind gentles,

the heart adrift from misted shores

floats in the lake of air

and breathes a thought then another,

small thoughts, a lone idea,

the sound of water.

Rocks are slippery, paths slide,

ice-cold source undermines

a shelf of cool limestone

flaked and crumbled,

snow hangs somewhere

off the Atlantic reaches,

dumb savage waters, here

the wet cliffs and cold stretches

of winter river dim the soul,

dark aspect of the body,

and mind waits

for sky and earth to change

for something other

and wind-born to begin.


Feeling The Nearness

It is not that the creatures are

almost there in the old sense

simply us lacking reason,

(the fox, alert, the wren,

and all the others, flexing

mind in their own way,

inferring the object of their intent,

hoarding memories, anticipating)

rather that what they do, being

their own fulfilment, is as valid

as what we do, though it may not be

counterpoint, verbal tricks,

pure mathematics, and now

we realise it.

Harder to kill and eat where you see,

if you look close enough,

your own deeper self revealed, reflected,

in the apparent sadness of those eyes,

in their resonant features, the puzzled

glare, the half-embarrassment of eye,

the seething of those feelings,

out of which our tenderness, our hatred

came, ranging from innocence

to reason’s tyranny, the pretences

that so inadequately disguise our passions,

or a painful lack of passion, greed for power

over things, people, places and ideas,

especially ideas, the most dangerous.

Who in the past ages could have guessed

the one continuum, the seamless segue

of species into species, that the mind

sprung from the dark eye’s gleam,

that patient silence, the subtle communication

would conjure, fact, affection, and delight

in form, that we would end in empathy

with what was once the prey, would see

in the questing look, the need for more language

in a frustrated world deficient

longing to bridge the void,

that they and we confined to the irreal

making this place out of the imagination

would end as deepest echoes of each other?


Et Ego

I came out into a world of silence,

past a stile, along the upward slope,

climbing a green way, beside the wall,

looking over into the deep limestone

valley, across to an abandoned quarry,

steep turf slopes scattered thorn trees,

beyond tops of ash, over the ledges,

in the bright sun of the December day,

dreaming of another world than this,

or another universe, where this place

would be the core not the exception,

its intense green, everywhere, soaking

into the spirit and the mind in balance

between the outward and inside, held

by the light, in the calm intensity, alive.

To speak is easy, to say what we mean

harder than granite, the words slipped away

smooth over marble, or sinking in quicklime,

neither this wordless communication, call

it poised (line of a cleft in the wooded slope

where flakes of axe-heads hide under scree,

or the solid profile of a stone barn waiting

for nothing, winter or erosion, on a hill

carved by winds all winter, sleeping summer

in a windless haze) call it form, solid,

stronger than words, asserting whatever

clings on to being, constitutes its pressure

against the void, resists the spatial emptiness.

When pastoral is not pastoral what shall we

call it, when the surfaces give way, when

the bright green meadow has a darker shift,

which is its meaning as existent, its flare

in the mind, the sudden fierce perception,

edged with ten thousand years of human breath,

glitter of grass, where the windhover

buffeted by breeze hangs in the air,

scanning a hillside for a beating heart,

flickering out again over littered slopes,

to slip once more into deep imagination?

There seems a foreground and a background,

a sense of scene, a sense, that is, in which

mind is other, mind placed, as if set in place

and not as in truth the work of chance,

a sense of the drama, which is only ours,

beside the drama-less working out of nature.

Or say it remains simply pastoral, framed

in the trembling shadows, the quivering

leaves in daylight, but with that intensified

which the Renaissance saw, the feel

of what is also present in the shade,

what underlies the flicks of paint

imitating stone, or the real landscape

imitating art, a sense of the frailty

of our imagined backcloths, the silence

behind the stillness of forms, those

frozen gestures, their motionless

wavering caught in the wink of an eye,

that questioning of what it means to be:

et ego, and I too in Arcadia.


Afterglow

No doubt the expert tracker would find

where the deer went in bracken

and over the fields,

or how the mice went by on the turf,

even,

but for me, delicate silence

the afterglow of something

like the flow of perch in the stream,

or the kestrel’s hover,

glint of spider silk over furze,

snail shell on stone,

whatever intricate passing by

makes of marvellous chance,

insects, others, whoever

leaves no trail, so nothing to follow,

cuts across our track

without our seeing.

Lore is sweet, understanding

of the ways, but there is a sweetness too

in letting be, in not understanding,

a deep non-intervention of the heart,

morally culpable perhaps,

a standing by,

a standing over what passes,

but ranges of distant hills

make the heart afraid,

shiver of the solitary, the inhuman,

into which the deer pass, the mice,

the kestrel, with their cries,

and perilous for us to disturb

the travellers in the wastelands,

our alien kin,

their afterglow.


Moving And At Rest

The kestrel with his brown eye, ahead,

turned with outstretched wings,

towards the iridescent blue of sky,

towards what’s there

forever, or a while who knows,

the soughing trees in the wind,

a patch of snow,

the noise of the stream,

what all mind fears,

the stillness of stone,

the silences of years,

but wild up there in light

he lifts the heart, a kite

and we are raised on the string,

to share his rest

to share his beating on the wing,

fearless and free, we trust,

and that he will survive, his kin,

the levelling,

and soar over pine, the resin breeze,

in these central valleys,

like an act of mind,

eye of darker than amber, feathers of air,

beyond us like the gales, like the snow,

like the hills and seas,

not ours, not of us, not our ground.


Sonata No.27

If this is deafness, madness we

should be as deaf, as mad,

buried in forms of feeling,

head and heart, conflicted.

If this is where the mind ends

let it end in just such a melodious

tension, the lack of why

meeting the un-comprehended how.

Focussing on the movement within,

contained between octaves, inside

the keys, with not even the fingers

flickering, hanging there

invisible notes on unseen lines,

goes deeper: this is meditation,

as if you focussed

on a run of boundary wall,

the individual stones, the moss

the nettles and the slope

of grass where ash has rooted,

the bird in the fir,

all that’s beyond us.

Control is not power, it is the open

gateway on a flow

of strength which is not us,

but is our inner being,

born of those centuries of survival,

the quieter study of everything

that exceeds us, and outlasts us

even when it vanishes before

our eyes.

If this is a foolish ageing sentimental man

considering another, it is self also,

the speech of being outside this

world of limitations where, deficient

in how to live, we live more fully,

as the eye lost in form is not

this awkward figure on an evening sky,

but has become the shine

of headlight on a far slope of road,

the layers of blue-grey cloud,

the shadowy mine, dark clumps

of trees, patterns of domed fields,

everything that forms an aesthetic,

and transforms the heart.

If this is only a human utterance,

it is wholly human,

the force denied by tenderness,

the gentleness by astringency,

logic, the inner logic at play

with circumstance, each stutter

of technique a mastery,

each mastery a means of laying down

all claim to everything,

in taming silence.


Uniquely Identical

His little mind was satisfied with power,

he found the shallowness of every hour,

filled with displays of force, platitudes

the subjugation of the ever-unsubdued,

the spirit escaped to a place he’d left

long ago, or never knew, the empathy

that might have formed a human, deft

at personal creation, common sympathy.

He had the complement of ancient gifts,

cunning, skill in obtuse communication,

the ability to rage and instil fear, that lifts

the bully always to authoritarian station.

Yet proved again the barrenness of fame,

who by destruction, death, gained a name,

in repetition of that strange phenomenon:

all such exceptions join the crowd of one.


Twenty-first Century Blues

Blue atmosphere, that tolerates our presence,

between the earth and stars which are alike

in their intentionless performance,

absorbs somehow this maddened dance;

the earth and stars combine

to ease the mind,

and set us free.

Blue atmosphere: will it survive our games,

between the earth and stars which signify

in their pure mindless void of existence,

the purposelessness of our purposes,

will earth and stars combine

so that we find

time’s mystery?

Blue atmosphere, which is the secret hidden

in nothing between earth and stars, instead

it comes of looking, wary of machines

that serve and steal our souls, all blind

indispensables that combine

to mute the earth and stars,

dull our identity.

Blue atmosphere, here’s the peace of afternoon

between the earth and stars, one subtle kin

of natural energies, where matter

melts to the deep uncertainty beneath;

the earth and stars combine;

life, yours and mine,

a fierce fragility.


Departing Wave

The foggy smoke-dark dense

forest, planted (since everything here

was cleared way back),

the cloud white skies

of empty beauty, pure vapour –

all of it sliding slowly

away, lingers

in the mind, out of love,

and the flights of dark crows whirling,

the creatures hidden in the undergrowth,

not yet at risk, are all at risk:

departing wave.

No more primitives; the species,

back-tracked, erasing its past living

features, leaves the spoor;

no more visions, except those

of the mad; no more drums

tapping out healing; no more

medicine-less un-science;

no dancing, singing

at divine thresholds;

no more goddesses, or gods;

worlds we don’t enter.

Not for us, painted caves,

curious figures (shamans perhaps)

on hidden walls,

basic survival –

or what price civilisation?

Mozart, Da Vinci, not here

by stones and spears,

nevertheless, nature was always

breathing there behind them;

the breaker falls and out

of its green cylinder slips

a universe of stars,

and little ships,

floating in a universal silence.

The roadways kill, are not the way,

the logged wilds founder,

the white whale

buries Self deep in concealing seas,

circles the void,

prepares to vanish,

to reappear in galactic light,

Cetus, and bright beginning

out of the end of days,

the white whale, all intentionless

energy, the questioner.

Here you can watch it going, the whole

thing moving, dropping

like scree on the river slopes,

carrying the dead away,

in a reality not cognisant

of motive, error, blame,

but solely what is,

trickle of ruin, loss, but neither

ruin nor loss to mindless planet,

the loss is ours, for ourselves,

the earth, the stars wait, suffering all

without suffering,

stream ebbs from stone,

falls dwindle,

rock lip dries,

elsewhere the opposite,

some new spray breaks

from the departing wave –

richness we love may vanish,

the wealth we find in everything,

but mind has chosen

to hear the hiss,

to contemplate the slow retreat.


Beware The Simplifiers

How distinguish the conscious, the unconscious?

In behaviour, both are working, mind the interplay.

The Freudian, the Jungian explanations in the sane

are only two of many metaphors: myths are potent,

and the sexual forces since they offer a dynamic

of the passions, fears, arousals, but never the joys

of intellect, our subtleties of thought and emotion,

antipathies based on intellectual hatreds, delights

based on our subtleties of love. Few motives are

unmixed, all mental energies are moving, the self,

both conscious and unconscious, in mature beings

is also a product of its own happier choices; mind

un-explained by its components, but by the whole.


Little Lunar Song

What is that music in the eye,

that music in the ear?

The white moon slipping by

at the turning of the year.

Catch in your silver fingers

the threads of love and light,

the white moon is ebbing

in the courtyards of the night.

What is that shadow on the grass

that shadow in the air?

The white moon keeps the pass:

beyond, the heights are bare.

Snatch at the light that lingers,

all that she grants is right,

fierce ache of her departures,

deep fire that stirs delight.


In Flight

After the histrionics where did it rise from

that idea of the spirit that adjusts the scene,

as counterpoint to the spirit of malevolence,

the baser side that must always come to grief

or where’s the art, or still more so the human?

Was it out of some arcane book of mysteries,

a bright Cabal, or simply the obvious, the sum

of what had been, and where the way had run,

over the fields, through woods, to the boards

where passion plays at self, and mind arrays

its dreams, doubts, insights and poor evasions,

until he found self on self’s island working

to reconcile, to find cold harmony, a light

enough to call an end and set free the mind,

conjuring mercy with no rod or book, only

the parting words, and the defenceless look

into that peopled darkness, into the world?

Still no solution, though the lost are found,

the guilty forgiven, dead pasts resurrected,

simply the agony, wholly personal, unseen,

the twang of the bow as a new flight began,

from there, but not as his; for those to come,

searching for something on an empty shore.


The End Of Art

Icarus fell and was the Minotaur.

Daedalus set him at the labyrinth’s heart,

the honeycomb at the windings’ centre,

to roar his torment at the lost sun’s burning,

the anguish of a birth to crippled wings.

Sometime the hostile blade would come,

and life, by a thread, be released to death.

Daedalus bowed his head and still created,

wax in his fingers, a raised spine of feathers,

for one more flight into the woman’s realm,

to where she danced on high to ritual song,

and was not the child on fire, the crucified,

the falling angel, or that concealing wave,

but herself, in the sacred place, inheriting

the calmer, gentler earth; the un-betrayed,

not abandoned to a god, but stepping down

over limestone pavements, a dancing floor

he merely cleared for her, from his hands

receiving the sea-shell, its pure mystery,

holding intellect to the windings of the ear,

unravelling a little moving seed of wisdom,

she being the earth itself, such gifts already.


Cities

In the end it’s the light

which can transubstantiate

even industrial things,

the soft shade at evening,

or the red of morning,

the flame of nature that

converts our dross to gold.

The domes and spires

of soulless buildings

acquire a meaning,

which is all of form

and nothing of purpose,

so that architecture

may be found an art.

Even where the only

human thing in them

is the obscure intent

the embryonic image

that lay in the design,

even when mad power

has so commandeered

the fabric: it will pass,

and the symbolism pass,

and the naked form

floodlit and beached

in darkness, acquire

a sphinx-like stillness,

under the swirl of stars.

So cities find a self

in light, and tremors

of the light, an alien

meaning if we vanish,

a token to whatever

comes after, of how

the forms defined us.


Live-Oaks

Cicadas under street lights

shrill, hiss, sough

in live-oak leaves,

and darknesses confound

the mind with sound,

beyond the human ear, or here

loud enough to hurt;

their own delayed

heart’s music,

where is mine?

Reality alone may be beauty:

or, should we say, beauty

may lie in rough strange things:

the fierce obduracy

of how an insect sings,

that marks a place in time,

never to be returned to,

as no time can,

but is, like everything, a symbol

for us, a deep allegiance,

to what is life: an autonomous

moving through, a replication,

an intent, mindful or mindless,

no cry too small

nor any human heart.


Its Ground Left Raw

White fog on limestone landscape

pure Chinese,

the levels and the hills

a showing through

of light that flows

in white silk volumes,

sheerer,

impossible to describe, as

all nature; words

are never even music, music

too much of us for this un-form,

which is as yet

an unintended sweep

where we drown.

Far in, and deeper, only grey

drenches the mind,

belies the eagle view

something once more glimpsed

from a car,

a sight too far,

a winter-pure instress.


Not As We Had Hoped

There is a question of how far we can move,

beyond the complacencies, this cognizance,

towards the essential thing, which cannot be

the dream of something which does not exist

and yet by being named seemed an existent,

that god that was, the word that made a god,

heartfelt projection, inflation of pure person,

the power that returned by us from the drama

was a symbol of the mystery of this, the mind.

There is a question of how far description is

the path to what we longed for, or mere data

that shows like substance of a canvas, frame

paint and all, but no sense there of any artist,

no mind, no thought of a maker we desired,

who long ago vanishing into the far human,

expressed a cry, our presence, a raw texture

of unequivocal purest nothing, so declared

through water, lines of trees, the silent face.

All that is certain here is no former myth

contains it, though all those myths grant

symbols that are more or less resonant

with our condition, moving among stars,

on the one planet, tokens of that planet;

yet, through mind, denizens of the irreal,

where alone consciousness comes to be,

the mirror of this universe itself the glass,

mind in the world, world inside the mind.


Self And Others

Self-centred yes, but where self-interest

coincides with some purpose of the other,

of the group, we are often most creative.

Not pleasure but fulfilment, achievement,

realisation of a goal, to defeat space, time;

self-centred motives, but where the other

or the group may benefit as well, not wholly

selfish not in the strict meaning of the word,

not oblivious to the wider benefit; a bargain

in some sense made with life, with others,

a code to live by, whereby we come to seem

ourselves, or may choose to die by; dying

for a cause, a principle, another; or the image

of our loves and our delights, accepting pain

for a delayed gratification; or the right feeling

of that choice of a delay: such things are real.

Call it self-sacrifice or altruism, we forego

one self to choose another, all self-centred

but not wholly selfish: beyond that negative.


Momentum

Slipping helplessly down scree

thinking, self and the world are one,

this is how we go,

unable to hold on, unable to break free,

caught on a rock slide, sheer descent

sliding without end and part of this

that never ends its fall always here,

which is part of us one and the same,

this now, going nowhere,

out of nowhere,

shifting changing rock,

unchanging stream.

Stumbling helplessly stone to stone

past boulders, taking cliffs along,

wild by the ice-cold pool heart gone

a beating tumbling fear of falling,

on dizzied flickering slope of time,

which is a moment

ever-tilted,

never itself slipping sliding away,

the slope of mountain

which is the mountain in us,

the world in us, this whole universe

in us roaring downwards.

Mouth open to the water, the air,

drenched in the spray of light,

trying to catch self, self fleeting,

self a shadow in motion

fluid as lizard, gone like snake

out of the noise, disturbance

but still of all this,

and all this inside,

carried by gravity, moving

helpless and hurried

bound to the inner outer

slipping through void.


Clouds And Hills

Delight in the limitless

tranquility, the clouds and hills,

nothing rising,

nothing ceasing,

gone, off the wheel,

past limits, all delight.

Delight in the clear sky

peacefulness, the clouds and hills,

embracing world

releasing world,

now, at the heart,

blown clear, pure delight.


Far Out

Going nowhere, seeing nothing

vast moon over snow

makes the silence.

Less fuss, no noise, the self

that sketchy thing

black pine on white hillside.

All the fields under cold,

ice and light

held on an empty brush.

Mindless nonsense

air and stone,

going nowhere, seeing nothing.


Slant

A change of slant what is needed,

same moon flying looks otherwise,

and the brown rose is no longer

a connotation of the night,

things once more as they were,

as have always been,

independent of the mind.

Standing by the roadside differing

perspective makes cars machines,

gives a vision like a cloud’s

coasting in the blue; strange

to think medieval people saw

the same grass, leaves we do

and not as in their paintings.

Don’t see through history or art,

look through the eye; your thin

music was not all there is,

and weariness is time-specific,

the song of the universe goes on,

beyond our aberrant metaphors,

the insufficiencies, form is light.

In another moment alter being,

walking field-side trails by low walls,

far from the alien ominous congregation

of assumptions, assume another guise:

here the dumb moon flies down

again an elemental, the blank rose

lifts from the ground pure substance,

stems of grass are again stems of grass,

we free-fall, down-slope with time,

or with our perception of a flowing, flow

without resistance, such is ease,

ease of the moon in its flying there,

ease of the rose in its secular being,

the text forgotten, the soil scarified.


Grass Without Leaves

Say to me something, critic, that is not

there in the poem, or in the beyond it

that its presence signifies, say

to the reader: become the writer. Talk

of the widening imagination

in a space, that is in the end, purely,

a sign to return to the power of things

that have no power: say

or be silent.

Say to me otherwise, critic, than repeat

words out of words, or in the dusk retrieve

volumes of grey-black cloud,

billows of sombre majestic light

on a shore of sky, talk

instead of the cogency of thought

that defies, that is, in summation, held

a flame in the hand, pain and joy

a sheer feeling.

Say to me, critic, say what individual being

makes of the speech of wholly secular

worlds, dead gods abandoned;

makes of the rose without the name,

the grass without leaves,

the sun over ice, still more beautiful,

of the summer free of phantoms,

say what the sunflower says

in its secret turning.


Sailing Close

No the imagination is not enough,

can construct itself but not

the summer night –

the rain is drumming on earth

beyond the heart, and greater,

and our love a humility

that makes peace with things.

Nowhere the dead return but in mind

too late, nowhere their speech

other than time –

the wind ruffles the river surface

beyond all thought, and free

of the fear in us, our anxious

clinging, to world, each other.

The human tale is our sailing close

to the wind, is the delicate navigation,

through intangible seas –

the snow blows on silent water,

beyond the mind, and here

is neither cold nor beautiful,

and yet seems both, in truth.


Northern Lights

Eerie above us,

but not the phantom of things,

‘energy is colour’ we said

and the world’s flickering,

as if purpose flickered, there,

over our heads,

feel of the ghostly opera,

the blind backcloth appearance,

a shifting there

of a substance-less fabric,

shape and not constellation,

heart-troubling, like white foam, like wings,

like the opened hand, or an eye,

with translucencies beyond us.

The play of intelligence

over the world is not this

swarm, this ethereal dancing,

uncanny as of the galactic swirls,

out of quantum depth, or the inscrutable

void behind the black entity

whose boundary sucks light,

whose rim eats matter,

and is not Melville’s metaphor,

is no symbol

of our abstraction,

but the powerless real of magnetic powers

the undirected gleam,

mindless and sweet.

It is the tremor of the feelings,

the shifts of thought,

as if the blank sky of the familiar poem

came alive in the hour

when the mind engaged,

showed living words, idea

trembling in a dome of seeing,

the hemisphere an eye open

on a universe, and we beyond the eye,

or the universe inside,

it’s the quivering of consequence

inconsequential,

it’s the sweep of unearthly green,

shade of a polar ice, a frozen ground.

Beauty to us, as the poem may be

beauty, though not to alien glance,

beauty out of human perception,

beauty we make; our gift

to the universe of form which is only

beauty in embryo without the mind

the maker. The poem

must speak of itself, in itself,

or be dumb, as mind must give

of itself, in itself, that is beauty,

a framing of flash and fire,

the threadlike glow, the sheets swirled

of those veils, the far

motion.

There is no cold north, no frozen tundra,

lights climb the pole,

time’s visible being

the un-timed tremor of vibrancy

coils about the arch,

over a whiteness, a vacancy,

a void that is not a void, an expanse

of the lonely and the fearful heart,

un-housed, burned by a kindling,

not overseen, but by an unseeing-ness,

a masterless flutter, a pageant blazed,

theatre of doing and undoing,

idle of diamantine, pearled adrift,

space of no person.

The named fell behind the eyes

to be the nameless and the non-existent,

sight opened again on cloudless clouds

of a bright concordance,

of a being, an attendance, an indeterminacy,

found us wedded to intelligibility, fused

to the meaning that defies obscurity,

after a path into the world, not over,

and transformation

of the thoughtless stage to performance

for the self, asserting self,

to a non-assertion,

whose gemmed singing spell

is of our singing too.

The fluted walls of wild space-time

carve themselves from light,

our mystery these glittering cloaks of cold

their frozen straws, their smoke and shine,

the all-transparency

in which we must believe,

who live by faith

but not by the faiths of any past:

these are not masks these movements,

these patterns, these chaos forms

our deepest kin,

barbarian hordes across the frozen lake

the inhuman out of which the human

comes, that into the human falls.

These lines are not the lines of any scenery,

are not landscapes to the given,

are not injunctions for the indebted,

these scrolls, swerves,

levels, planes of the greater nothingness,

the ground of us,

its in-wrapped webs and columns,

throbbings and extinguishings,

are our crystal echo in delight,

a bareness of our beauty to affirm,

are the fate that is no fate, no destiny,

and the innocent roads of our contriving,

that lead into the thoughtless free,

doffing the mind.


The Nameless

Ours the black shadow of the moon,

the little sighs of fire,

between the two, we stutter

the terms of our desire.

Night shadow under leafless oak

flicker of raw flame,

between the two we utter

the nameless name,

that is the best of us,

a darkness and a light,

black universe inside us,

and a constellation bright.


Another Way To Say It

The way is not a way,

it neither leads us through,

nor out of, nor into,

it is un-music, alien

to the human that desires

human response from all,

least of all appreciates

our cleverness, our

intellect of chaos.

The silence of the house

dissolves its walls

through greenest glass,

becomes unspoken word,

the mindless reader,

finding leaves

the insect chews,

the walls fall down

and were pure vapour.

Of void and void,

the empty path

invites us to begin again

one foot in front now

of another, the light

sharp as our intellect

to slice through calm,

and swinging there

to perfect quiet,

its tremor over.

So in the empty space,

left behind,

which was no space or time

but simply being,

keep still.

The way is not a way,

the path goes round,

or is no path.

The house outside

is the inward room,

a library

of inarticulate texts,

in a summer night,

no longer physical,

written in air,

or in the electrons’ presence

not of orbit.

We are the house outside,

the house without walls

or doors, windows

or foundations, without

history or owners,

past or future.

We are not the way

except in faring

without ceasing,

except by what

we cannot help

or hinder,

the un-remorseless

un-ground glittering,

that never asks

the way, the careless

something other,

something over,

that going never leaves

and leaves -

nothing behind.


Communion

Words make the world more vivid,

world the words,

so your utterance

in the darkness,

which is not an utterance

in this central world

of the present night

but a prior speech

codified, a singing,

unseen, silent,

so beyond the real

but part of a real.

Say, shall we, we do not

believe in the unseen

intangible, grant hoary sense

of limit, metaphysics

vaporising world;

go close the ear

to passionate mewling

or this subtle flight

of something understood

not simply words?

Or say words vivify

are filled with life, our life

that meaning needs

only the slightest of mediums,

bird-tracks on clay,

or O’s and I’s of time,

white cloud-or-water writing,

rosetta’d leaves

that speaking eye,

its secret semaphore,

wild bark of trees

or these

the faintest tremors of an energy,

to lever universe.


Mounds Of The Forerunners

And these were the ancient peoples,

the ones who never

were asked their names,

the ones we rendered silent.

Here is the space they lived in,

never owned, skimming

the land, of the slightest layer

between earth and sky.

Here is the dust they tilled,

the birds they loved, the grains

of pollen like those they scattered,

the lost dreaming-grounds.

Here is the silence:

they saw the beauty.

Here is the breeze:

whose are the trails?

Here is the ant,

the beetle on a stone,

and time will tell –

who clings here longest.


Nightfall

Black silhouettes of trees

in motionless blue evening,

their dark bare farness,

my branched awareness,

networks that bind

the labyrinthine mind,

sing dark,

make resonances.

Blue deeper

as light passes,

the gleam across swaying bushes

now sky goes green,

and cars slide by,

a birch in distance, lace,

the upswept pine

are fine.


In The Telescope

The ghostly universe is bright,

let’s dream of distant stars

no longer as they are,

bathe in light.

No the universe is not our dream,

it is outside us and it is inside,

if not quite in the forms

that we imagine.

The ghosts are ghosts of something there,

as we are ghosts

of something past

only less ghostly.

If this is an act of faith

then it is the trust

in what free intellect

can make of being.

They arise together,

what I make of things

and the things themselves,

the unreal and the real in the irreal,

which is in turn a faith

in their unintended messages;

that what I make of things

is and is not the things themselves,

the tangible but not the intangible,

the given not the un-given

which eludes (why should

we expect it all?);

that the solid and in-solid are one,

the act and the theory

in a deep connection,

that we too are the universe,

the ghostly light,

and are still

the sole real presence

in the sole real moment.


That Despair

To accept the evil is the broken only

is difficult,

the mind would like

to see a purpose in the pain

that brings despair;

in the mind awry.

We cannot relieve

things that are as they are,

cannot extract

meaning from unmeaning,

the irretrievable

has no restitution.

That longing like despair

is damaging weakness,

somehow we must make

what we are out of what

we are, the good

offset the bad,

without rationale,

without a name for evil:

the malice of the crow

was not intended,

the old dead satanic

has served its time.

But it is not easy,

to accept blind moves

also inside us.

We still desire a name

for evil, some

powerless redress.


The Transmuters

Without the evergreen meaning,

bound to tundra,

or losing the jungle in the mind

the lush actual,

would be death to the imagination.

The instrument of the feelings

will suffice,

the intricacies of the heart’s sonata.

Make out of love and truth

the singing beauty

transcend the stage.

Winding the green leaves round us,

we contrive

person and person, in the gold

of sun or sheets of grey,

delineation of a leaf,

delights of creature.

It is about a confidence,

a letting-go

not before time,

of the depleted symbolic,

an acknowledgement

that all beyonds are inside.


It Affirms

The no limits us to what we are,

who are nothing, the skandhas,

and everything, the wild flashes

of hurricane light, form, affection.

The dead magnificence slides away

to become some period of imitation,

the pastiche of an imposed meaning,

(and not the life itself) for no audience.

I sing the private self, offering nothing

except as a resonance of the universe,

a realm time touches, of pain and space,

not to be caressed away with words,

needing no reader, an essential freedom,

no listener, and no eyes, the silence as

when Mozart sits there growing a sonata

letting it breathe, without the intervention,

hands picking half-conscious at the keys,

but with the full force of mind-awareness,

until as in poetry the secret yearning, that

which underpins the reader’s inner voice,

reveals a feeling, and gently surrounds it,

becomes the yes that extricates the self

from selfhood and embeds it in the flow,

this delicate yes that affirms the universe.

Say that the final faith is in the duality,

the reverse of the metaphor in the mind

its opposite, and the wasteland gleaming

there, the creature of endurance leaping

with flickers of sand or a rotation of leaf.

Say that the breeze of death brings renewal,

that the colourless winter is full of colours,

that form stirs everywhere, and solids flow,

that even the feelings that obsess the heart

can change or be changed, that the galaxies

are not waiting for their youth or their age,

that the moments of the outward universe

are each eternal and undying, if forms fade,

other forms mutate, each makes a difference,

beyond our weakness, our inner limitations.

However great a use of words, it is the ideas

that order us, and style gives way to content,

that not the voice but the thought is judged,

the worth and not the person, who recedes,

far from the howling or the sighing, becomes

the persona not the self, the observed and not

the unobservable. The image cannot sing

without human meaning, mind has no edge,

and its dark circumference is always central,

a point in seeming from which world radiates.

The in-itself is the boundary where we hover,

mystery the stop to imagination, exhausting

all attributes, mistaking being as such, held

to the instant where the music ceases, void

becomes alien, reason ends, and self other.

Yet say that the void is never for us a void,

but the seething of innumerable potentials,

that out of the icy waste a tiny figure grows,

or in the black leaves there’s a fleck of light,

that implies our presence, is our projection.


The Human

Our beauty is often inwards, mind beauty.

Not outer dancing grace and form of wild

creature, the tiny one that scuttering runs

its track from the predator that plunges by

and misses, not a beauty of line and form,

which when we see it in the human almost,

even then we look for a mind behind, find

a wall, or the conventionally un-revealing.

We are not the aesthetic species but simply

the species that creates the aesthetic, beauty,

always recognised in the forms outside us,

the ones we are not, though we might find

them and display them, in a mind’s creation,

but never the mind itself. A beautiful mind,

what would that be, one free of its own flaws,

an inhuman mask beside the forms we make?


No Meaning Without Meaning

There is no who in the green eye of summer,

the dream of earth dissolves in the real of her,

and it is the extent to which mind and meaning

penetrate and project that makes image of her:

there is still the dream, but a dream of meaning.

So in the darkness if we give the poise, warm

presence of the multivariate, the many-coloured

regions that embrace us, of her clouds and veils,

her substance and her sighs, it is our own speech

we wish her on her tongue, our self in her selves.

The cloud is a text, the cry a syllable of our eye,

the leaf the hand, her emptiness our abstraction

from her, the winter we inject into august veins.

This is the sending-out of mind, the embedding

of human in what can no longer stay inhuman,

detail of dream in dream, and a greater clarity,

that no obfuscation, or hankering-after serves,

the things must be words as well, though we

long for the outside language, for the music

that utters further than those forms we heard,

still all too human. We have need so to place

in the great outer void that rises with us, the one

that contains reality and is contained, we so need

to set there, the sole gifts we give, those of mind;

what earth’s minds have created, echoing selves.


Obstinacy

Obstinacy, Pope said, and Byron quoted,

and strength to resist the human stream,

or ignore it. Obedience is no freedom.

There’s an inability of the creative self

to take orders, it’s need

to exercise its own clear potential.

A world of obedience, yes, achieves,

but to what purpose, unless it liberates

the individual being?

I am talking of creation not destruction,

of liberty not the irresponsible,

the flowering not the harming of the self.


Getting Down To It

Nature’s honesty, that beauty,

of pines at night, and larch,

of the slow sweep

of rain and wind across the slopes,

after the hawk fall,

lovely lady,

to a further valley,

the scattered flowers, white

stars in the grass.

The un-pretended and the straight,

the right, even when awry,

in the places we can

no longer live without appurtenances,

sites of a truth

we cannot match,

as here the stars

in glittering pines’ dark boles,

strong occupiers.

Clarity of water, peace of truth,

the oldest wisdom simply

a going straight, a levelling,

nothing pretentious,

no fuss living:

but how can that compare

with sweep of wing

or air, or the silence

at the centre of the flower?


Free To Become

The human is no god, but nothing needs

the arbitrary tyranny of deity,

the mind is free,

to be within its bounds,

to yield the gifts

we give the universe, the mindless:

love, truth and beauty,

our inheritance from the forerunners,

the grain here from the winnowing,

our uniquenesses,

that otherwise

the universe would lack,

and don’t ask the need

for giving, that runs deep,

the creative must live beyond itself,

the moving on requires a divestment,

a disbursement, all renewals

that sing the green soil.

The human has no temple, has no need

for what religion preached,

the rites

of subjugation, if only to a concept,

an idea.

Sartre was right in that;

account for the genetics, for the sieve,

for culture, language,

all we carry,

but then our fate is in our hands,

and all codes our own to unmake,

not in contempt for life

in the name of life,

our existential freedom,

beyond the dark roots’ solidity

which is not ours

and in another body, it may be,

forging another nature.


A Season Everywhere

After all the defeats there is a speech,

quieter for those capable of speaking,

closer to us maybe, of the colour of us,

shaped of the human, its deeper figure,

and not that alien language in the stars.

In January beauty the trees grow still,

accustom themselves to burgeoning light,

a blue beyond the hyacinthine shadows,

a hint of crimson in the dissolving frosts,

a spangled a new-fangled weight of air.

It is of the black figure time, its silvered

presence under the moon, along the field,

an absent jiggling of the stalks of things,

an unseen spring almost we send toward

your east coast shores, Floridian dawns.

There are words on the tongue that tell,

forms of another bird beyond desolation,

the wren it seems, a continuous music,

on the rim of the pool, over the stones,

and another form of moonshine, subtler.

What is beyond cleverness is a moaning

of the surf, your tide’s soft foams, pipers’

beaks prodding sand, adamantine clouds

barring the reaches, a glistening of world,

turning again, shaping the human regions.


No More

Disentangling the emotions embedded there,

a wistfulness, a resignation, the sweetness

of a memory, the affection, time’s erosion,

the persistence unchanged of things external,

this world that takes us up and sets us down,

the beauty of the deep experience, its gleaming.

Disentangling the murmurs of the heart, life’s

imperatives, our inability to cling to the summit,

the thrilling of an exhaustion, the depth of rest,

and beneath the sadness the strength of being,

a firmness of the spirit, this endurance, how

a life’s emotion makes form, the essence clear.


Ad Plures

Leaf veins cling to the rock, pale skeletons

of leaf, layers of Shelley’s leaves, metaphor

for us, and the west wind ruffles the water

of this clear pool between sills of limestone.

Mind after mind, this intricate inner making,

then our one descent to a thready simplicity

that might as well be the life of a lizard, less,

the life of those fibres in the grass, a passing,

if it were not for the trace mind leaves behind,

fragile as the spray of stream blown in the air,

wet skeins of leaf plastered against the ledges,

the layers on layers of stone stained with being.


Headland

No there is nothing of us in the darkness,

the you that I am, the I you make of me:

in us the minds that can declare the self,

the minds an empathetic force discovers,

only in us, and only these subtle instants

where we construct a universe, or render

what is a darkness and a light beyond us,

against which we are silhouetted, making.

There is nothing of you in this conjuring,

nothing of I myself, but in our communing

the principle of form transforms to process,

the potential world becomes so actualised,

in our resonance reflects itself unknowing,

that we are not mirrored but the mirroring.

Such is the something of us in the dark,

the you that I am, the I you make of me,

flares of the far light on the midnight sea,

heart-stopping meaning, instantly undone.


Confines Of Freedom

On the south slope were ancient fields,

you can still see them in the low sun,

places where the predecessors

carved out a life, sank in,

sank deep,

to strips of existence between stone walls,

or following in summer light

the flow of pollen.

Pollen is life, the light,

echo of the sky, air,

at the mouths of caves,

child from the dark

the makers

of human meaning in hidden valleys,

in the soft green of the hills,

now, gleaming grasses.

Do you pretend, do I, to some

greater being,

some more refined existence?

More forms, true,

more products of the makers,

knowledge like fire

that lacerates the spirit;

but more being?

Time bows to time,

all ages own their foolishness,

life-wisdom,

truths astringent,

deep affections.

Did they love this landscape

less than you?

This beauty?


At The End Of Speech

There is self and the universe and this is freedom.

Here starlight grazes the surface of quiet water,

I gaze at water, and am aware of starlight,

in darkness of sacred air, in the earth’s moment.

Say to the purposeless: how quiet you are.

Sound is intent to us, and not the stir

of the intentionless, trees, grass, air

moving over a hillside. World is hushed

and goes on, in its own inner working

of which mind will never be a part.

Grace though, in the sacred. I become

one with the untouched universe, its light

at the end of speech, where the word succumbs

to a reality which is not word, and gives

no sign. The quietude in me is not the world’s

but this stillness for a time, and a time only.

The stream moves soundlessly, the leaves

flicker beyond me. I ache for their being,

for beauty not mine, for a fusion beyond

the tongue, for presence without knowledge.

The stream moves soundlessly, a bright flow

at the end of speech, the un-aching being

whose beauty is not awareness, not self;

in a not-nature free of memory or love.


Enough Of The Wise

In the end who is to say how others should live.

Enough to live true ourselves, or try to do so.

Since the only way back is the journey through,

and the only home for the human is the mind;

enough to search out what may help the process,

and restrain the violence, destruction, erosion.

To do for the sake of the doing not the reward.

To give for the sake of delight, and give freely.

To find again every flicker of the silent earth,

to cherish its creatures and find grace in being,

and not in the foolishness of invented deities.

To recover the self despite the irrecoverable.

Freedom is already there and not to be granted.

Restraint is a denial of movement not freedom.

The self, the mind are free by the very reason

of the universe’s non-intention, and its silence

which we must fill, its stars only we aspire to.

We, out of our heritage, create love and truth,

and are compromised by our being human, all

trapped in ownership, selfhood, fear, loss, pain,

but all a part of the world graced with unreason,

the mindless world that glitters with pure being,

the world where the grass is, where the trees are,

but where mind is a ghost, self a process of time.

It is enough to understand that to err is human,

and to focus on our ethics, not on our failures,

ignore the blame, see cumulative consequence

and that not everyone chooses the same path.

So we may find a way through not a way back,

and a road to the future, out of our tortuous past.


Tributary

In the limestone quietude, the small stream

flows below birdsong, and blackbird moves

in a place which is also mind, but subtly other.

The stone is the stone, and the place the place,

solid in time, where silence is a deepest calm

out of which clouds and trees and hills quiver

to be as they are and no more, secede from time

under the breeze among the sounds of the flow,

and hush till they are the breathless statement

of what trembles in you and me, what shudders,

faint as a thought against the sough of breeze,

a motion of acknowledgement, an acceptance,

of the slightness of all this transitory selfhood.

Be quiet in the limestone quiet and listen there

to the conversation of things, their communion.

The smallest tributary creeps from under the lip

of a fractured shelf, and is almost a statement

of what you are, a glimpse of being’s fragility.


Ethics And Aesthetics

It is not the revolutions of power we need,

but the revolution of ethics and aesthetics.

Who builds a world they wholly hate? Assume

your hatred is your hatred, perhaps not theirs.

It is not the close community of interference

we need, but the space of decency and justice.

Who allows community to lapse but all of us

who value privacy, interests, our selves more?

It is not the reality that fails us but the dream.

To see history you must listen to its message,

that all was not happy, life is not some poem,

that ethics and aesthetics were often lacking.

Don’t hope for the revolution unless it comes

bringing ethics and aesthetics in its very being.

Do the best you can in your own life to create

love, truth and beauty in the world around you,

but don’t blame those who bow to other forces.

Hope for the revolution of ethics and aesthetics.


The Song Of Delight

Listening to the knower speaking of what they know

in an act of love, is to be in-gathered,

to words that share, to words that give

in the grace of understanding,

live in the life of the best of what we are;

is to join the communion of spirits,

not ghosts, but minds,

the meaning of souls if the word has meaning,

bent on the pure particular, on the act

of creation, interpretation, true translation,

to invoke the intense light

of another’s flame,

and make that your own…

No the audience is not less than the creator,

both are a pulse of being,

and the created, the score, the text,

the artefact once made are givens,

only great in that all must freely share them,

diminished by restriction,

lessened by any breath of ownership.

Chopin, for instance, no longer cares

to possess the outpour,

but here for us in a breathless flow,

like the bright pond in the moonlight

like the small rill that slowly feeds it,

sounds like the natural sounds we call silence,

being there, free of anxieties,

for a while

under the stars of an uncreated heaven,

making the singing ours.

This is the essence of the human,

the gift of the other, given;

the truth for its own truth’s sake;

the little sliver of beauty

that outweighs the pain;

the flower of discovery;

the sharing of what we love;

the song of delight.


The Gift Ungiven

There is no they, there is only ever us .

Not all of the destruction was intended.

Mostly it is a slow erosion, an accretion

of the un-beautiful, untruthful, un-loved.

The violence too is mostly a foolishness,

a product of fear, a lashing out in anger.

We drift towards the silence of the fields

and hills, the way to the wasteland easy.

If we accuse others we accuse ourselves

of the laziness, the selfishness, the greed,

though subtly hidden. There are all these

appurtenances we need, all this possession.

Values are at the heart of our problem, all

the things we believe in but don’t perform,

unless by accident, or a slow convergence

of quiet intent on the better ways of being.

To elude is fine, yes the way is for the lone

adventurer on the trail of true self-creation.

To evade false belief is fine, not to follow:

but we need more, we need the gift ungiven,

which is a form of love, or rather of delight,

source of all ethics, the real mother of beauty,

delight in form, delight in the shared delight,

delight in speaking as true as the word allows;

delight, a form of grace, like nature’s grace,

the uncreated, un-designed, the unintended

in which we can plunge to restore the heart,

which we must accept, being still beyond us.

There is no they, there is only ever us, only

the flawed species. Be kind to all the others

if you can. We need what is in us, and yet is

never ours, a performance in and of the self,

what is not sold, what transcends language,

that implementation of our deepest values

that makes the soul, the mind, that is, alive,

with the heart-felt music of the gift ungiven.


Nothing To Do With Power

Giving has nothing to do with power, there is

no fight. The revolution has already

been achieved in the gift,

its afterglow is beauty.

Love has nothing to do with power, there is

no conquest. Unless the mind has already

let self go, accepted loss,

we impair the beauty.

Truth has nothing to do with power, there is

nakedness. Defenceless against what is

we learn the true meaning

of a remorseless beauty.

Freedom has nothing to do with power, there is

no freedom in subjugating others. Liberty

once gained gives liberty,

its sanctity enhances beauty.

Nothing of what makes us human has to do

with power. Grant no allegiance

to any entity or force beyond you:

touch the earth, learn beauty.


The Song From The Tree

In the moment of love

in the heart’s surrender,

in the moment of truth

in the silence, tender,

we hear a voice sing

of impossible being

possessed by a vision

that’s lost in the seeing.

Its the sweetest of songs

that floats from the tree,

to drift on the water,

so perilously,

the voice that delights,

that soothes this poor heart,

with a song beyond all

the seductions of art.

It’s the song beyond body,

the song beyond death,

the song beyond meaning,

the song beyond breath,

its time is the moment,

its life is its presence,

the space of a grass blade

is its mortal essence.

There no one is theirs,

there nothing is mine,

there the mirror is broken

where sad stars align,

and the fields flow green

to the endless sea,

as the sun sails on

mysteriously.

The dark of believing

the shadow of living,

vanish in light,

in the gift in its giving,

there is only this sound

for the music’s sake:

as the eyelids must lift

as the sleeper must wake.


The World Of The Spirit

I was re-born to the worlds of detail.

There, in the silence of unruffled water,

a spectrum in the raindrop on the wire,

glittered in all the beauty of the rainbow,

the blue of sky, only a brighter, deeper,

the emerald green, the warm leaf-yellow

in February sunlight, in the lake-silence.

Water flowed in my spirit, that reclaimed

from those who claim to know what spirit

is, the sole possessor, wishing a stillness,

wishing to become the intentionless world’s

own lack of speech, the gracious, graceful

earth’s own mindless singing; mind-rending,

for there, at the heart of death, life resurrects.

I waited beyond word, the free unbeliever,

with faith undiminished in the natural fire

inside our theory, outside our understanding,

the eternal bonfire, that festival of the light,

ice-stars, red stars, blue stars, veils of green,

risen unseen in an outer darkness shimmering,

when out of the far end of the lake, travelling

a kingfisher flew through February sunlight,

flash of a hummingbird, rainbow on the grey

ease of a voiceless water, and leftward gone,

downstream to holly bushes, to the shadows,

glittering in all the beauty of the rainbow,

the blue of sky, only the brighter, deeper,

the emerald green, the warm leaf-yellows,

and I was re-born to the detail of the spirit.


An End To Indulgence

It took only a slight shift of vision to see

the lilacs as lilacs, yourself another being,

and the sea the sea and not the sound it made.

Only a moment to be a mind beyond mind,

feeling the planet, feeling the unseen tremors

of insects among leaves by diminished rivers.

It took only a change of attitude to recover

intent from the intentionless, but our intent,

to banish the sadness of a waste of meaning.

An instant to regain the vigour of evening,

the remorseless sky’s unmitigated gleaming,

the forms of cloud under the form of moon.

And you were present suddenly like the lilacs,

the ocean was present no longer lachrymose,

the free light shone rebounding among stars.


Of Green And Civil Life

It is a mistake to view the human as body,

our earth as body, our universe as body.

Whether the human will survive depends

not on body but on the mind, not on this

landscape that I love, this limestone valley.

It is a mistake to confuse our own desires

with human intent, the billion-fold fires,

even if our own vision end in silence.

The body of all I love will die, and I too,

and nothing maybe of all this will be left

even for a season. Though I too cry, re-cry

the desolation and the desecration, the loss

of the civilised, that slow accretion, recognise

we are not body, as the universe is not mind.


The Unfamiliar

The familiar is diminished, we unravel it

and it’s gone. The knot is un-knotted,

what seemed abstruse, once shaped us,

only a re-statement of the dumb obvious.

But you are never the familiar, nor this

place of water and wind-sculpted stone,

whose pure light gleams on a landscape,

explains to me a beauty of permanence,

one that I never understood, the mother-lode

that yielded, the ground that gave, created,

and became self, all that hidden from me

buried itself where waters ran sunlessly.

Not you, nor the quiet pool, the grey heron,

the evening planet above cliffs of starlight,

the scents of the darkness and its meaning

to me, a freedom that is grace of the mind.

Not you nor the meaning of the universe we

grant it, the integrity of flow never familiar,

as clouds surprise, as the movement of trees,

how the creatures gleam in worlds beyond us.


From Nothing

Daylight is quiet by limestone streams.

Earth’s powers not our powers still belie

the white inexpressive silence of the sky:

the blackbird and the wren return again.

Energy invades us, shadowy winter lapses,

and the trees glitter with a rain-slick promise

of fresh infancy, old minds rehearse new birth,

strangeness warms, becomes the commonplace.

Being is always in eternity, and so our freedom

is guaranteed from nothingness, blank vacuum,

which seethes with all that may be, and dictates

nothing but self-creating self-perpetuating form.

The budded leaves cry in the mind their potential,

cry with the realisation of their appearances to be:

the river of being does not flow, it falls, from here

to here, out of the moment in the moment, falling.

The planet we were part of goes on singing, light

is quiet beside limestone streams, dark meanders

under white cliffs, this is new knowledge, beauty

of the far intentionless seething, undirected being.

No I will not be what you wish, I will be myself.

I will be the paradigm of silence, in other nature,

acknowledge the nothingness all this came from,

other power than ours, a reality opening cleanly.

Burying the gods, the bones of the world tremor

with that notorious absence, with sudden denial,

here where the nothing changes and is all change,

where what never returns is a perpetual returning.

Daylight brings freedom by the limestone stream,

I live in the flight of the blackbird and the wren,

held in no hands, un-graced by an outer regimen,

no less part of the circle in the trees, the mysteries.


The Poem Is Mad

In the belly of the whale the world glitters.

Reality is swimming from somewhere to

somethere, these ribs a skeleton stillness.

The jungle spoke green fact, wet as it was,

against which thought of the city ran mad.

There the ice of the poem melted, and left

behind, a damp spot; emotions skittered

over the dry leafage, over the forest floor,

entangled creepers twined, the sad lianas.

In the belly of the giant whale, the world

is beached and far from the sound of water,

Will mind find a ground of contemplation?

The poem is mad and drowning in the green,

dappled by purple butterflies, whose shadow

posits appearance over which beings flicker,

a forest of seeming in the belly of the whale.


How It Is So

At the level where a quantum flickering lies,

de-coherence finding one world from many,

order exists, like this glittering of the leaves

that leaf by leaf declaim the being of the tree.

In the quantum silence, entangled, non-local,

where what we do predict, our only seeming,

describes it may be some other kind of nature;

in the randomness, free, pure, and undirected;

the mystery of being is encapsulated, the mind

is clear again. See through the world, go there,

go deeper, to where the sum of all this matters,

matters supremely and only as we proclaim so.

Know the gift, mind in the mist swirl holding

the world as world in its metaphors, equations,

marvelling at miracles of order, out of a chaos

like the chaos of winter, without thought for us.

The wave in the wave equation is neither real

nor unreal, is form like a ghost of further form,

a hint of a something in the deeper continuum,

which not to think towards is subtle cowardice.

No we cannot grasp space, time, energy, what

these forces are that whirl endlessly through us,

not their substance-less substance, nor their life

not ours, in the uncertainty of their reflections,

our measures, as they the mindless have no grasp

of mind: what we grasp is form, the conservation

of measures; action, event, the macroscopic given;

the desire for word and meaning making meaning.

Not the world, we do not grasp the world, never

the summer shining its way through veils of fire,

not the sun in splendour, nor the far cold where

we are lost, all those not the tongues of language.

For us is the tremor of relation: this against that

is beauty, delight is the dower of truth and love,

to know things not as they are but as they are

for us, to the furthest detail, to the end of being.


Cradle Song

Render the ‘child’,

the unspoken light.

Be the pure fall in flowing.

Walk with the shadows,

mind in night:

knowing is deep unknowing.

Render the ‘child’.

Beyond the end

of being, is all being.

Not what we are,

what we create

the meaning of our seeing.


Index Of First Lines