‘There are those who cling to the world and never break free;Hsi K’ang: 223-262AD: ‘Letter to Shan T’ao’
there are those who enter the wilds and never come back.’
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Authored by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved.
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- Deep Fields
- Out of the Dark
- Digging in
- Into the Fiery Darkness
- Listening to Transience
- Seeing, Not Capturing
- The Meeting Pool
- Out Here
- After Long Concentration
- Beautiful, Shifting Light
- The Midnight Eye
- Sounds and Branches
- Neither One of Us
- Emotions Move
- No More
- Keeping It In Mind
- Nameless-River Falls
- Now The Rain Has Gone
- Three Poems of the Hills
- Everything On Fire
- All the Forms of the World
- Now the Light is Shining
- Awake and Aware
- World of Dust
- The Fact
- The Visitor
- Tranquil Days
- Thin Air
- Sleek Birds, Desperate People
- In the Mountains I Feel Free
- In the Presence of Natural Beauty
- ‘The Mountains of themselves are Mountains’
- This Side of Lethe
- Line of Sight
- The Invisible One
- All Change Now
- A Flow of Dream
- The Trees Are Honest
- Looking Outward, Seeing Valley
- Path at Night between Trees
- Birds of Thought
- It’s Shared
- Quiet, Diamond Bright
- Crisis! What Crisis?
- Tonight, I Dream of You
- Creating Space
- He Leaves Us Behind
- Uncreated Space
- Baudelaire’s Symbols
- Science Fiction: Light Relief
- Not by Shouts Cries Violence
- Undulant Night
- The Removal
- So Many Faces
- Distant TV Shots
- Red Fox
- Never Underestimate the Flowers
- The Coldest for Years
- The Space of the Void
- Larger Than You Think
- Strange Country
- Everything Of Us Can Be Seen
- It’s A World We Yearn For
- Stone Song
- Mind Is A Garden
- Reminding Mind
- Who Are You Calling Brother?
- Humility Is Endless
- Love Completed
- A Life Is Not Defined By Time
- Dead Touch
- Index Of First Lines
Where are the wilds?
In the depths of the Mind.
And the heart
In the depths of the fields.
Through the dark trees
In the white clouds
On the bright sand.
Where are the depths?
In the wilds of the Spirit.
And the soul
In the wilds of the Mind.
In the barbed seed,
On the pale stem,
Down the deep fields.
Out of the Dark
Brushing dark webs from under the covering glass,
Inanimate, motionless, ancient, soft dead things.
Suddenly, in my face, a flash and flutter of fire,
A startle and strangeness of being, the tremor
Of heart and mind and breath, taken unawares,
Patch of white, milk-white, ghostly pale quivering,
Beating against wood, and transparent roof, and flesh,
Till I realised I had freed a spirit, a nub of flame
Trapped in a knot of time, released it again to flight,
This what? This moth, this fabric of moving air
Flinging itself through darkness, light and the void?
Too large for moth, too angled, its wings, too frail,
White butterfly, then, escaped from its prison, dazed,
Frantic with something purer than mere delight,
The great flare and surge of freedom, the drunken
Madness of freedom, transformation of inner self
When walls shrink and the roofs fly out and space,
Become time, becomes once more eternity, open:
It beat against me, its deliverer, and then won free,
Soared beyond glassy-edge to wide empty blue,
And lilacs’ flowerless green, deep skies of summer,
But left behind a fluttering in my spirit, the shudder
Of how heart’s prison feels, death’s primal offering,
The shrouded gift it thrusts towards us, relentlessly,
The spider lure of sleep without pain, the winding silk
Where we began, twice cocooned in the heart of mystery;
Left behind wrench of pathos, and anguish felt there,
For a moment, for that fragile thing, its tragic quiver lost,
Found, and lost again, in each quick flicker of motion;
Left behind, the pale captive still fluttering in my mind,
Transmuted to light, known far better far beyond words,
Neuter when turned to symbol, but now alive, palpitating,
In throat and hands, in the danger of pure thought,
Under the skin and in the eyelids, butterfly of the soul’s
Desire for flight far from the flesh and in life’s only body.
Chainsaws and drills, the motors in the mind
Drown out our poetry,
We drill down into the core of the world
Extract its fruits,
Glitter of the machines, free of malice,
All the inanimate mud-spattered shells
Not even waiting for their masters,
Never-yet-restless, ever-silent metal
Littering the fields, and reaches of the Earth.
Honest, the men and women who work them,
Labouring in our image,
Killing and saying prayers
To the kill, as if
Our rituals could ever make things right,
Sometimes watching in the pause, Nature,
In all its integrity of blood and dirt,
Show forth a fawn; or wave a leaf,
Green, quivering, mind’s image on its twig.
I too have seen the darkness, seen the maw,
Under the songs and laughter in the bars,
Have seen the creatures slip through the dark
Evading our eyes, silently,
The cougar under the pipe, the night-heron,
No flash-photography to show them there,
Only the infinite starlight, the deep fields shining,
From Pole to Amazon, from sea to sea,
No, there is nothing here to make things right.
Trucks plough the naked surface, crush the stones,
Career, groaning, whining, over hills,
Lay low the beauty, proxies for our pain,
The steel and the perfection
Functional clarity imitating control,
The great wheels turn, but not now in the heavens,
This is the book of Earth fouled with our poems,
Scarred by our detritus, and the agony
Never in Nature, but deeper, in our Selves.
Into the Fiery Darkness
Down the dry hedgerows go the nameless flowers,
The wild ones, not the identified selves of gardens,
But outcomes of Nature, the forms that were there
When we were not, on the empty land, no fields,
Here, in the hawthorn’s intricate green frame
Glistening pure at the heart of jet-black thorn,
Unknown voices, blue, gleaming resonances,
Down there deep in the ditch, and in dying light,
The blazing pyre of intentionless separate lives,
Careless of all our phantom tremors and sighing.
All along edges of things, in the centre of things,
On the mountain ledges and under the lane-sides,
Sprinkled by gates, scattered below stone walls,
They light me, if they don’t light you what matter,
We are the passing breath of this more delicate world,
And each in each finds or loses threads of eternity,
None can show other what burns alive in the heart,
And what should be, and be done, flowers out of us,
In the creative flow or never at all, regardless of all
Gone before, all the lives, words, rules of the dead,
Or the long absurd games of the living, so much more
Harmful, so much less lovely, than flowers, the wild
Witnesses singing from hillsides, cliff falls, layering
On gravel and clinging to sand, over mud and darkness,
Through the star-nights and dog-days, in times, hours
When we cannot see them, neither showing nor hiding,
Existing, almost the bodiless body, the faceless face,
Seen in some other lifetime, once, and eternally known,
Flowers no tears, only dewfall like strange benediction,
Bowed to the ground or equally, silently, turned to the sky.
I consider the timelessness of what is bounded by time,
The infinite depth of what glows in simple transience,
The hole of light we fall through as if into a well,
That moves like water swirling far down in the rose,
With the same awe of the calyx and bud as the fall far
Into the wheel of the galaxy, ten billon stars in the eye,
And the light within, what flows out of mind, and defines
Not this poor moment of watery flesh, but grasps
The whole Earth, the done past, hurls them like seeds
From the blown husk of stalk, into the fiery darkness.
It’s the gentleness we’ve lost, the tenderness,
The water over gravel and the grey flycatcher,
If you know where those images come from:
It’s the shyness we’ve lost, the introspection,
Too quiet to win the world but quiet enough
To see down nearer to the heart of Nature.
It’s the true sadness we’ve lost and the ache
Of hurt at the space of fallen tree, or the flower
Gone under, the tract of land, sky, sullied, time
That belonged to each, belonging now to all,
The agony, intensity, that is heart’s crucifixion,
But beyond religion, in the mind’s chamber.
It’s the childlike simplicity of light we’ve lost,
That washes over the spirit and redeems us
From all the cries in the hostile desert, the dark
Of thought that spawns the sad world’s deities.
Sitting by the stream, or regarding pure rain,
Knowing the light falls here, and never again.
Listening to Transience
Giorgione or Perugino – in a far clear sky,
A sinuous landscape, tiny trees and towers,
The gravity of being, the pure flute, a sexual
And natural resonance, gleams of silvery air,
Those ideal images, contours of excellence,
Savoured because there’s steel behind the light,
Where mind and word are still in concentration.
How will such beauty ever be made again?
Perfection fails, and there’s the weariness
Of the done fashion, and repeated thought,
Plato in some green garden, La Giaconda
Emerging in delicacy under silent fingers,
A touch of being beyond the comprehension,
Loosed from our grasp in this un-serious age,
Beauty of world or woman, music of time,
Cruelty of passion metamorphosed to line,
That thoughtless thought, a fleshless flesh
A force-less energy, and a breathless sigh,
That contrapuntal contradiction of itself,
All life seen clearly only against its death,
And meaning late, and love in dissolution.
And there’s the perfect Cinquecento gaze,
Shadowed intimacy or falls of frozen light,
Pure twisting form, a landscape, innuendo,
A note still echoing, strange ethereal chord,
Some implicit understanding gone beyond,
And now unreachable, its technique gone,
The lifetime’s call, that ache of dedication.
Seeing, Not Capturing
It’s the precise contour of that sheaf of grasses
I can’t catch,
The green, the pale, and the mass of vegetation,
And the face behind, your face, in memory’s deep,
That keep’s escaping,
I’m not good
At capturing exact detail, a poor eye,
A slipshod gaze through which the earth escapes,
Spinning off into centuries, hanging blue,
Or is it blue? against four billion years
Of compounded light,
In a universe of fourteen billion,
Years, light years, what else travels
Far or fast enough to even reach here,
From everywhere, and ours goes everywhere,
Our light that is, the sun’s or this reflection,
Every star a centre, every centre circumference,
Like bubbles blown receiving bubbles
Of light and fire.
There’s a greenness to those blades of leaf
That I can’t capture,
The word green is black here on my screen,
And your face behind I see in black and white
Like a photograph of some great painting,
It’s colour bled away, but itself more real,
As unrequited love binds in the lover,
As imagination hovers round the lost,
Like the magenta tone that sheds
Its colour on the knight’s silver armour,
Only for show,
If passion’s foolish then we are here
To be fools,
Studying that delight, all we can give
To the Galaxy spinning, to the Void beyond,
To whatever orthogonal dimensions lurk
Behind the quantum weirdness,
The ungraspable Is inside the equations,
Delight of love, art, intellectual form
That we call truth, our blessed gifts
That any deity might be proud of.
That green against the stone, those seeds,
And feathery spokes, and that white
That creamy white
Where the unrestrained flower bursts itself
Into the cloud-grey day,
Are things I cannot catch
In my net of flame,
Nor you, nor ever you,
This net hung on the light,
This apposition of electrons –
And sombre wisdom’s not this age’s forte –
I’ve not the gift,
To transcribe you, or with a silver lead
Immortalise a single modulation
Of everything that defines you,
A person in the masque
Like that man’s design,
The one whose drawings
Seem like bits of nature,
Dazing the eye,
No not like him,
Neither your eye nor smile,
Nor the contour of the little knot of grasses,
Nor their green.
The Meeting Pool
Deep down far in the earth,
And cool your fingers,
This the connection
That once we came for,
And we go talking of Self
But silence forever
Sings in the everlasting
Light of invisible earth.
Deep down below the mind,
The stars and time,
And every phantom
And every flare.
Long cool sleep
Of ash and loam
And tender clay
And sweet mire.
Deep down under here,
Where fingers greet,
In Earth’s reticence,
In the meeting pool.
Fields where the creatures go bowing their heads,
Why do they do that, why are they
And why are we?
The savage earth sighs with colour, visions
Of colour flow all night through
My dreams, magenta,
Lilac, umber, and viridian,
The rider bends to the horse, the green horse
Bends its head to the grasses,
Over the stream,
We bend to a quiet,
That is in the world itself,
It’s all this flow, our parting slow
Or quick, this land
Its woods, its fields so self-contained,
Where green horse bows, and the cattle,
The sheep and fox and deer,
All on four legs bow
To Great Mother Earth, her singing.
After Long Concentration
Suddenly the words seem larger
The feelings deeper, a moment,
(I learn to live in my thoughts),
To watch the city in its reality
Blossom in strangest mind
Of this civilisation, its creation,
Know the tears of joy and sadness
The closures and revelations:
Reality has all these faces, like
The old gods’ everywhere-masks.
They swell through the glasses on
The page, the screen, wherever
Time expresses itself in language,
Ah language, tongue of sleeping
Earth, licking with snake-flicker
The ear of attention, and folding
Coil and jut over the core of us,
To bend and flow through mind
With its spirals, whorls, and pools,
And bless this cage in which we rest.
Do you know it, the time when words
Glow and each one holds a sweet
Kernel of meaning and a glitter
Of living light spun from its presence
The clustered connections like stars
Whirled in one galaxy or caught
Like an ovoid, ball or orb of fires,
Drawn out of space, sunk in the eye,
Like a field of green bracken where
Vision is lost, but also intensified?
I learn to sink deeper in thought,
And resist what this world strives
For: not for certain translation of
Its dreams, forgiveness, or to flower,
But rather the process of captivity
What the creature, defeated, gazes
At, the hapless child, bars between,
Each in its prison, gazes, uncreated
And un-creating, the dark fire of
Un-being, strange heart-country.
Because everything we look at
Closely fills us with new fears,
Everything we gaze and enter
Into becomes the alien quiver
That hurts the sensitive mind,
Its flesh, and everything stares
Back at us from the light, so
The more we know the less
We feel at ease with anything,
Not even language, not the word
That bubbles, oozes from deeps
Carries, within, centuries, and all
The constant ‘Now’ long breathed-in,
Sucks life from the living, grants
Life to the dead, and then again
Creates over again world and time
For we who live in each others’ ears,
Cry from each others’ mouths, call
From the billboards, signposts, walls,
Ache to connect, complete, contain.
Beautiful, Shifting Light
It’s the solidity we love
But in reality
The painting’s stillness
Never Nature but Dream –
Time stilled, space formal,
Zero wind in the trees,
Rustling quivering trembling
No thought in the mind, gone
There, no feeling, joy, fear –
Everything rocking under our feet.
Beware of symbols, images;
Mystery and weighty
Calm, it moves,
The rocks slip down
The slopes; the wavering grass-blade
Blowing, not ‘there’, and never
A thing in space, is always
Arc and shift of movement;
And you, no sooner understood
Than gone in other mind,
Nothing that I can grasp,
But wing, but feathery sighing.
Haunted by form, the heart,
It beats, dumb in the flesh,
While yellows and reds
Shine in half-found shadows
Light goes by
Falls on this world
Reflects out into the void,
Flows past Pluto,
No Mind out there,
But ones like ours
Maybe, we think,
Knowledge makes mystery greater,
The universe is not shallower
By being simple, nor
Are you. Anger, guilt,
Regret are not solid,
But don’t melt either
Just by wishing.
It’s all a tremor
Down to the last vibrating
Of imminent energy,
I plant my feet on soil-stripped ground,
On stone, on ice, it rings
With space, but time
Sets me adrift on seas
That flowed above
And lava in the eye
Scarlet-black and seething.
I thought I saw my thought,
Called Self, and it was gone
Clever those Buddhists,
Beautiful shifting light,
I too go by.
The Midnight Eye
The aboriginal elder standing
On one leg
Behind him the nuclear flash
And rising pall
Of crazy fury,
That kind of dream:
Rising in sweat at night
To drink fuzzed glass of water
And watch the moon
Almost calms the spirit.
Wolves howl, spit blood in snow,
Those steel traps,
The golf-ball domes,
And splintered trees,
Deliberate arts of war:
Don’t tell your dreams:
Parted curtains show
A whitened world down there
Above, a silver disc
Floats through dark-blue skies.
Old campfires deep, our ashes
Stirred each dawn to light
Mother and child, food,
Between friend and friend,
The artist’s dream, forever:
By clouds, a star, it glides,
Pocked by machinery
Will there be wars there too
Kept, for the midnight eye?
Sounds and Branches
The wind is blowing on granite earth,
Dull muffled tone
And turn the wrong way up
In my mind, pale bellies,
The firs shine in green sky,
Layer on layer they shine:
It’s not what you hear or know,
In the end, it’s what you believe.
It’s what you express in jets of fire,
Or gentle softness
Of moving grasses,
That rub their husks of light
Together, and sigh together,
What you assert, create,
Not how you reason,
The values your heart dictates,
The faith of your deepest season.
Which is not a recipe for believing
In any old superstition,
Or every old superstition:
The wind is blowing
On granite earth tonight,
Here in the half-light,
Love, truth, beauty intertwined
Or there’s no use for the human mind,
No humanity in our re-creation.
In the dark of ice and stars
Beyond the wars, this side of Mars,
Where the wild Moon glitters,
Mother and child in the grass,
Two lovers, in dream, a dog bounds past:
Though the wind blows over granite earth,
Dull and muffled, the soul gives birth
To what gleams through all eternity,
I forgive you, you forgive me.
Neither One of Us
For the Future’s demon machine
Is out to confuse us,
The past and what’s to come
Are totally without depth,
The moment alone is a pit,
A well, an abyss, a hole
With your lifetime in it,
And lifetimes, coiled
There infinite and concealing.
You can fall through the instant,
And vanish from the World,
In time now:
There! No one was watching, you
Disappeared and another
Took your place, wearing your face,
Life shone through a crystal, mirror,
Lens, distorting, to spread
Itself under your feet.
Everything past is all one time,
And so is everything future,
Neither is real, except in what exists
As lingering or determining presence,
So only Now has dimensions,
Time is a scalar, and change
The mover we actually measure,
Not hours, which are simply the echoes
Of action, in ourselves.
Beauty comes out of the abyss of time,
Transience sings in us, and the older
The more complex the half-heard singing,
The deeper the song,
And love wells up and sinks away
In the rock-pools of the moment,
How we would like it to linger!
Why Poesy is always an ache,
And blood in the throat of the singer.
And Truth, the elusive, if we are listening:
Hear the true song,
Masked by violence of body or mind,
Creative truth, where we belong,
Beyond the wars and transactions,
In the un-buyable moment, this one, Now,
Where your Self in your eyes,
And your mind in the word, move on,
And neither one of us dies.
He saw nothing normal in all this,
The world needs people like that.
He saw the echoing angled flight
Of Nature’s shine cutting across
The tractable world, saw phantom
Buildings fall, and children cry
In the midst of our transactions,
But not ‘surrealism’, not a way of seeing,
Simply the alternative way of Being.
Irreal, if you like, un-persuaded
By concepts hitherto conceived,
And dangerously open to expression,
Not of self (always unexpressed) but fire,
Water, stone, soil, light, and ideas
Not of any-place-other’s first making,
An original true, but not for your
Observing, un-biddable, not sharing
Any platform of yours, ironic, smiling,
Like Buddha or a Snake-God on a rock,
But knowing; no ignoramus, no divine
Idiot-savant clinging to mystery or to
Metaphysics; time-traveller, as only time
Can be traversed, down there in the spirit,
And not by mortification or inner calm,
His deepest value laughter, and delight,
More like the Taoist deep in the mountain
Stream, or the brush-stroke of spontaneity.
I felt him in New Orleans black in the moon’s
Wet light, watching the river, dreaming notes
On his imaginary Chinese flute. In Granada too,
Breathing the rain-spray out of Lorca’s well,
The pool of the graven heart and the bare stylus:
I felt him in Paris alone in the twin empty gardens,
At the child’s memorial; then by the mirrored glass.
I saw him stare through our world and look away,
Neither ghost nor angel, those non-existent beings,
But one of us: only seeing lightning in clear skies,
And without Selfhood, carrying his image before him,
Therefore with no creed, history, except that of Man,
And Woman, of every sex and none and every race,
Himself a question, ‘ah, why’ to the rhythms of living,
At once deep in the moment, mind and the stars,
Turning the universe inside-out to show on its surface
Values, the ones that without us would never have been,
That we forget; stooping then, shaping dust in his hands.
Dark-veined butterfly floats
On the path of existence,
Zig-zag mind in its flash,
Wild I loved you.
What spaces, what fates!
Pain of the Self
That never can say
What it intends.
A ray of light
The heroes of our lives
And heroines are masks
Of the darkness, light,
Singing from the child,
Arms out to the spirit
Of intolerable fire.
The scalding tears,
The lonely sadness,
Of dark apartments
And empty houses,
Where moon dead dance
And images images
Observe us dying,
And things and companies
Outlast us, churning
Dark dross of reality
Strata of blessed Earth
Spun through the Void.
Dark-veined butterfly flaps
In the stifling air,
Too much seeing
Kills every being.
Take all the love
And take it further,
Because the past
Is done, and perfect
But we begin again
In a mad world
Of too much habit.
It’s freeing the Mind
Is hard, not believing,
In order to have faith
And love without fear.
Wisp-footed other reality,
Trembles in blue flower,
I want my mind to be dark
As the Earth tonight.
I want my heart to grasp
The four million year breath.
I want my body to be still
And not ache for you,
And the heart in my chest
To beat for all the rest.
I want to see the lightning flash
That tears down phantoms
And makes meanings
Stand up in the blue.
I want to bathe my head
And mouth and ears and eyes
In the spontaneous fall
Of ice-cool water.
I want to be free of who
And what and where I am
And be everyman-woman
In the womb-tomb of time.
I want to scream with the train,
And howl with the plane,
And sigh with the drunken boat,
And float on the dark pool.
The irrealist song is the only
Drama left to us,
The bitter truth
Before love begins.
Returning to the Earth
Is hard. The pang of
Flowers, the hurt of
No more ghost visits,
Unless it’s the ghost
Of the Sunflower.
No more angels,
Unless it’s the angel
No more phantoms,
Unless it’s the phantom
Of the Underground
On dark platforms.
No more priests
Not even the priest
Of the Endless Void.
No more nations
Except the nation
Of one Humanity.
No more power
Unless it’s the power
No more America
But States of Grace
Gulfs of Joy
The lost Sierras.
No more pain
Except the pain
Of giving, freeing, being.
Keeping It In Mind
Looking for something
Quiet as a granite ridge
A creek of green water
Or a gold grass slope.
By you or by me,
Full of insects, creatures,
No use leaving the Earth
If we can’t take it with us,
We already haunt the stars,
We’re already there.
Better to save what we have,
Or think we have,
Full of illusions
Better the moonlight
Falling on silent eyes
The shelves of ranged
Looking for something
Clear as the dawn,
Free as the fire,
True as the twilight wind.
I turn on the news and think that more
Should be happening. Beauty and love
Should be changing the core of the Earth,
The elevators flowering, the dark side-streets,
Under the moon, filling with slow water,
Hearts opening and hands emptying quiet,
Intellectual thought lighting the fountains.
I read the words, see the images, and find
How little is happening. Studying instead
Of living, fallacies of the lawless wild,
The good hero who seems to leave behind
A trail of dead innocents, as bad as the bad,
No one caring too much what’s said so long
As it’s neatly said, and with lots of laughter.
I turn off the news and gaze out of the window,
Trees are happening. Birds and rain and flowers,
Are taking place in another arc of reality,
In the other universes orthogonal to ours,
Bright multi-verses written by multi-poets,
As a child, I could almost walk into one of those,
Like meeting Chaucer, or entering a Van Eyck.
I close my eyes to the words and images, both,
And all is happening. Place and time vanish,
A coil of stars presenting the snake of matter,
Every place in the vast cosmos equally central,
Equally valid, and no point in spacecraft, no
Where to go, we carry infinity eternity within us,
And everything happening, if the heart is right.
Like a stream of light
From a high cliff,
In my head
The sound of rain,
Of other silence.
Carves the rocks,
Cuts the green
Of silent fern.
In the dark,
Lingers in coiled
All night hangs there
Where no one
No mind sees.
Flows its own way,
Clear in time.
Like a stream of light
From an endless cliff
Now The Rain Has Gone
(After Wang Wei)
The mountain empty
The rain is light,
Bright stream sliding
As rain goes by,
The lonely boat
In fading spring,
Three Poems of the Hills
‘Precise about the thing, reticent about the feeling.’W’ei T’ai
Dark deep tracks
Lines of sunlight,
Paths of pine needles,
Dust, pollen, yellow paths
To the quiet clearing,
Far off, the bright mountain
Shining after rain.
On sun-wet paths
I think of you,
On soundless slopes
Fill your dream
In the long grass below the dark trees
At the edge of that deep bright cornfield
I remember us, watching the world opened,
Torn apart, presented to us still beating.
Our concern was with Eternity and so
Unlikely to find sharers. And then?
We were about the business of Being,
Taking no hostages. Time in our eyes.
In gentle talk of the uneasy dead, how
Mind in time could follow miles in space,
As my thoughts now follow you beyond,
Meditative though, as England is, not fiery
Like the States, or dark with Russian pain,
We too saw the light on the mountain slopes
Burning slowly through the generations, saw
Intellect stripping away the ages, laying bare
The reality, we heirs of Enlightenment, yet
To come to terms with Romanticism, seeing,
Though the symbol uniting both, the species
One movement in time though many in space,
A single communion, beyond the single life
Values created in history given to the stars,
And the universe empty because intentionless,
‘No hearts in the ponds, no gods in the woods.’
Dealt with each other in famous speech and eyes
Of meaning, how humankind, compassionate souls,
Might find courage to conquer anger, hatred, war,
Go beyond nations, end religion, learn the quiet,
Embrace the one Earth, extend sympathies, hope,
Pierce the unseen world which separates us all,
Nurture delight where love, truth, beauty meet,
Be kind to the other, and make it last forever.
In the long grass, at the corner of the field, burning,
Burning, in the perishable days of youth everlasting,
Filled with the mysterious thrill of intellectual seeing,
How nothing simply is for us but always deeper, more.
And so all things echoing in endless vision-dimension
With the vividness of grasping and the arc of perception,
Which is the last deep stage always before the letting-go,
The clearing-down to the void, the viewing all as pattern.
And if we failed to break through to relationship too great
For our understanding, then we too were burgeoning corn,
Heads of the wheat, burning gold bright in the morning,
And the agony of our delight like the run of the breeze
In dark shadows over the surface of fields, the joy of our
Pain like the flash of the branches of pine, the fast clouds
Scouring far hills, and all worlds in transient movement,
So that the moments were fused in memory mind forever.
In the long grass under the dark trees
At the edge of the deep bright cornfield
I remember us, seeing the world open,
Torn apart, presented to us still beating.
Naked heart-to-heart truth, and knowing
Too little for concealment, dazed with beauty
Communicating with ages, with Eternity,
How we bind each other into the work of ages.
Everything On Fire
They linger on inside our heads
The people and the times
Bright with fire,
Challenging as in reality,
Pointing our failures,
Blurring our vision,
Echoing in our silences,
And shadowing the moon
When we stare out
In the cold dawn hours.
Reality is not fact for us,
Perhaps it will be for the machines,
But for us it turns to feeling,
Every instant charged with emotion,
And maturity the skill to suppress
What burns the soul,
Or to express it,
How do we keep on the rails,
Some don’t, in this absurd universe,
How do we stand in the Void?
They linger on inside our heads,
That’s what ghosts are,
The imaginary projections
Of our inner knowledge,
How everything has its symbolic strength,
And the greater the knowing
The greater the connections,
Until all things are symbol,
Leaf, moon, or eye,
Burning, burning, burning.
All the Forms of the World
All free, all to no purpose,
All intentionless empty
All Universe, all light,
Passing in the Void.
The Middle Way by all means,
But in this no compromise,
The true, the sensitive, kind
Are extremists, in their way.
Intentionless therefore empty,
Transient therefore empty,
All the forms of the world
Which really do exist,
But self-created meaning
For us and mind’s intention,
Love, truth and beauty
That we, no gods, have made,
Or rather out of the creatures
In the long chain of being
The parcel handed on
Opened yet unopened.
Universe did not make love,
Sentient creatures did.
The hopeful, sorrowful
Species, joyous Mind.
Enough of the idle dream,
All beyond or all emptiness,
In which is nothing Human,
Truth is always the matter,
Love, is delight in the matter,
Beauty, form of the matter,
Communion of the creature
Lost in love with the world.
Now the Light is Shining
Now the light is shining
And I should go out walking
Not sit making words glimmer
Till there’s darkness before rain.
Now the light is shining
Many people cast no shadow,
Peace for the body
Awareness for the mind.
Now the light is shining
Between Void and Illusion,
Bent on the grasses
Clinging to the pine.
Now the light is shining
World and Mind vibrating
With the quivering leaves
And every time is now.
Now the light is shining
Be wary of the phantoms
The ones with angel wings
Most demons of illusion.
Now the light is shining
The lost and broken ones
Are singing in the twilight,
Now the light is shining.
Now the light is shining,
I should go out walking,
To see the woods of summer,
Turn their endless leaves.
Drifting with the cloud
Blowing with the grass,
Clinging to the earth,
Under bending pine,
Suddenly, see the moon.
Awake and Aware
Neither haven nor void
To deliver or enter
Being in Mind.
Nature’s not nature
If once created,
Alone is free.
Giant ego abandoned,
Vast World as it is.
The seethe, the seethe
Consumes the silence,
But never the silence
Gone deeper within.
Life is the answer
Without a question,
Don’t use, don’t be used,
It’s awake and aware.
World of Dust
Treading the world of dust,
Feet deep in the grass,
Cars and trucks go by.
Things at the edge of the road
Dawdle in green hollows,
Slow as clouds.
I’d like to vanish there
Into the distant shadows
Edging the open land
Crossing silent fields
Dive down into groves,
Dreaming by creeks.
Changeless the spirit,
What was: still, there
Eye following hills,
Don’t let fools tell you
What to do –
The world is dust.
Hardly a sound, but stream falling,
Clicking of pebbles,
Trickling down through night.
Something about the darkness,
The quiet, said there.
One thought in the head,
Where self begins,
And a star, no moon
On the sleepless eye.
Where no foot passes
The fact of the universe,
Dark upward lift of flight over grey rock,
High over pine tips, white space
Sand and fields below –
Sweep down long grasses,
Then up on currents of swirling light,
Into the eye of the wind, predator flying,
Creature cowering below.
A life of consuming
In bits and pieces,
Nature harsh at its centre:
Grey hard stone and sky-blue air.
My agenda is freedom,
Yours the liberty to think what you wish,
Question everything, accept nothing,
Vanish if you like into silence,
Express your values,
And ignore the whole world
Of human cries, in delight at nature.
My agenda is freedom,
Why should I believe what you believe,
Or respect your conclusions, though
I respect your being?
And no, morality isn’t relative,
Destruction is not creation,
Love is not hatred.
My agenda is freedom,
Even better than birds or fish,
Mind is less bound even more fluid,
Though we speak the one
Language inside called Human,
I shall speak Poesy if I choose
And if not, not.
My agenda is freedom,
Not to interfere with you or intrude
On you, but freedom of worlds
Beyond us and inside us,
The intentionless, the transient
Is always empty, and our
My agenda is freedom,
To walk into the gloom among
Trees, to be different to you
Though I may look the same,
Oh, we can think what we like
If we don’t speak it,
Silence deepest beauty.
Comfortable poetry came to sit with me,
Drink tea, and watch the flowers.
She spoke to me of comfortable hours.
Pleasant human confessional poetry
Came and sat by me
In a comfortable chair and framed a self.
The seductive poetry of childhood days
And adult longing and vibrant scenes
Of relationship, and interaction’s maze,
Came to me to prove her worth and reassure:
Truth is not beauty, not worth aching for,
Beauty is truth, and we know all her ways.
The poetry that people love, that makes
Them sigh, with half-felt understanding, tenderness,
Came to me, and soothed my loneliness.
It is beautiful silence,
Great trees sitting in fog,
Bright hillsides with sharp edges
Tiers of green,
Lots of space and place
For creatures to be,
The kind of misted
Level grassy floor
Our ancestors once lived on,
Huge boughs against the light,
Tatters of sun,
In this landscape you can dream
Of being human,
Tenderness is easy, nothing
Strains at idle achievement.
We’re going nowhere,
Except into greater complexity,
But here you wouldn’t know it,
And nothing spoils
The deep fields simmer,
Objects meet our gaze,
On tranquil days.
Path to path and slowly more complex
The network of routes, the divides,
Until there is no going back,
What’s happened has happened,
And this place is where we are.
The trees, the streams we remember
May be there still, in re-incarnation,
But are not the places we were or saw,
All ways seem equal but in the end
We reach the place we could, no more.
Path after path, track after track, road
On road, and the blue of distance,
That captures us with a sweet insistence,
But all places are mind, one and the same,
Every place we were, tagged with our name,
But for others different, no minds alike,
And no histories. Though what we share
Is certainly the presence, the being there,
The witnesses can only testify to thin air,
The way is gone, despite its turnings taken.
Sleek Birds, Desperate People
Chance nature is our solace for randomness,
The disparate fates, watching the beggar child,
Trying to comprehend what it would be
To be her, and failing.
Watching the blue-throated birds instead,
Scattered here and trying to scratch a living
In a landscape where everything human’s poor,
In the Mountains I Feel Free
Glass ropes of water down the granite slide
End in dragon-foam.
Da Vinci tried to draw the whorls and curls,
Form and Function never die, the Process
Swiftest in the unmoving stillness,
Hypnotised the eye, these bright scales flare
As in the ink-on-paper of Ch’en Yung,
His vortices of wave and spray,
The singing gliding of immortal forces.
In the Presence of Natural Beauty
The silence of the tree and the valley,
The silence of the mountain and the hill,
The silence of the mind, and the spirit,
The tremor of the universe grown still.
The silence of the moonlight and the cloud,
The silence of the stone and the stream,
The silence of emotion and the will,
The presence of the glory and the dream.
‘The Mountains of themselves are Mountains’
Where grey rock hovers on green precipices
My mind grows clear.
Where water glides over shelves of stone
The heart grows silent.
Clouds and mountains: intentionless.
Hills and valleys: slowly changing.
Passing by, all things seem light.
Flowing through, the self has gone.
This Side of Lethe
For the sensitive, Life is those shameful moments
Re-lived again, now, in the memory,
The dark, scored, burned-in tracks of fire and metal
Thought travels, locked to its infernal landscape.
For the sensitive, Life is to re-work the past,
Those events that others have forgotten,
To drown again in the well, spurt in the fountain,
Fall to the bowl, disperse in the bitter stream.
The dark moth, un-designed, blunders through
A silvered web gleaming with evening light,
Spun by the long-legged spider in the night,
Whose skills, born of Nature’s net, wove true:
Their ancient genetic sieve sifts generations,
Leading to all unwished-for destinations;
The complex moth, antennae, soft furred wings
Beating against the perversity in things;
Intention, spidery species now rehearse,
Expressed in silk, strung from the flower’s stem,
Produced by this intentionless universe,
Catching the moth’s wing by its fragile hem,
Tangling life and death, emblems of sorrow,
Of all strange combats with no clear tomorrow.
Breaks through: chance bliss, as chance despair,
If such deep feelings may be attributed
To smallest creatures, who must only care
To fulfil their function where flight has led,
As the moth ploughs through threads of destiny;
Though we cheat Nature’s sieve in the free mind,
No more choosing to live among the blind
Than fulfil the process that brought us here;
Conscious, watching the sieved moth deceive
The waiting predator in the un-decreed,
Though inter-meshing, lives that insects lead;
Tear through the web; and skim away to leave
The dark spider scurrying inwards to repair
Its inner plan that lays fate’s meaning bare.
Freedom in deep fields and the darkest glades;
Those starry spaces, and galactic other times
Whose light from the past falls in our present;
The beds of watery silence; the far cascades.
Freedom in wandering outside the bounds,
Into the darkness where all tracks have faded,
Far blue distance, and mind’s remotest lands,
The absence, void of language and of sound.
Freedom to be alone, in that remoteness,
Beyond the communication of the living,
Tired of giving, weary of heart’s translation
Of night’s pure solitude to togetherness.
Freedom to feel the ice congeal on lips,
Fill the mouth, touch the unmoving face,
Devoid of any concept of love or grace,
To feel the universe cold at the fingertips.
Freedom to forgo comfort and the flowers,
Freedom to ask no more of I or you,
But do as, in deep snow, the bright winds do,
Carve out and smooth the wilderness, for hours.
Line of Sight
Step by step through the wood: the trees move,
Pure parallax in gold-green of early autumn,
As Proust’s church towers shifted, line of sight
Making them dance: is the world then truly solid?
A dance of trees, like the dance of language, letters,
The Celts’ tree-alphabet, birch, rowan, ash, but here
The smooth columns of beech, the great grey pillars,
And the endless bending leaf-rows a child might ride.
And later, in wood’s edge, by night, beneath the stars,
Dreaming of Earth-parallax, our circling orbit, lines
Drawn to what’s out there, measuring near distance;
Though what’s near for light’s so far for the species.
Perspectives shift, yet the head, the Self, remain still
Our trick to stabilise the world: all born egocentric.
Walk; watch it long enough, this wood, deep space,
As we move; and all the depths go circling round us.
The Invisible One
The deer, invisible, was there in the lens,
Framed in the shot, flat back and slope of neck,
A tan suitcase with legs, and magician’s head,
One of those dancing shamans on cavern walls.
It had looked towards me, though I never saw
That strange triangular face, those vast eyes,
Mysterious with sublime ignorance of all this,
Our mechanics, the clutter of our tame lives.
It was there as emblem of the world beyond,
Reflection of other being to this lost species,
Caught in the lens, digitised, frozen in seeing,
Not an answer, but an echo, a world-response.
And nothing alien, crashing through the trees,
But a reassurance, the meeting in parity there,
As unbeknown to each, stare meets stare,
Only in after-moment, this conjoined life.
All Change Now
It glitters, the poetry of the past,
A stage-set where the characters,
Who share emotions similar to ours,
In the end are utterly other, nothing
Of theirs ours: nor the meaning one.
The assumptions fail, external purpose;
Codes from outside; or lives with sense;
For us the whole thing’s mysterious,
Watching ourselves, our processes,
Turning inside-out, now, like a glove.
It delights, the poetry of the past,
Clear now, like a Mozart concerto,
Seventeen, or nineteen, say; the flow
Of feeling, bright as a distant river,
And its inbound streams; we sigh
At miraculous form, Rembrandt’s
Polish rider, speeding through dusk
Carrying a message from eternity
To this mortal life; see his pale horse,
Its bony presence; and the skyline there
That, like all landscape, all horizon,
Calls to us an interminable question;
Our answer stranger, darker: we are
Twilight, we cannot ride like you, but
We understand. Thanks for your blessing.
And then, the world was there,
Opening in beauty,
The forests dark, bare
Like silence after battle,
And we were not dead
But strangely still alive,
As though we lived on
After our intellectual
Being had ended,
Still turning over leaves
Marking the place,
Smoothing out the ground.
And then, the feeling
Of freedom, wild, alone
Seeing it is always
Like this, how light falls
On to a cleared space
Where knowing is living.
All that time wasted
All the grand diversion
Despite delights of form
Triumphs of illusion,
Ending where we began
In the empty clearing.
We can’t go back to the lake-shores
Or the rock-caves,
We can only go forward to the stars.
Mortal victims, or is it heirs,
Of mind, we can only
Reclaim, in Nature, what is ours,
Morality, and spirit, from religion;
Freedom from power; beauty
From heart-exhaustion and despair;
In discovering the intentionless
Which was always ours,
And always there, shining.
We can’t go back to the first fires,
The first beginning, the flowers
Of moons, the stars and suns opening,
Inheritors of the dream, burning
With outward-ness, while inside
Centuries coiled; thoughts unseen.
We can only unfold these strange
Blue voids, these shores of being,
The myriad halos of those other worlds
Inhabited perhaps by startling things, wild
Wildernesses of lights, eternal gleams,
Un-created depths, some far lost Earth.
A Flow of Dream
Those leaves designed like light.
Against all this human world,
And the deer-prints,
Slowly filling with water,
Deep in black mud, in the rain.
And later, under the stars,
The wind from the cold side
Of the hill,
Dark pine-trees breathing,
Reduce us down,
To what’s worth keeping
Free run of the Mind,
A flow of Dream.
Beautiful, this deep Nature
So why the anxiety?
Perhaps our suspicion
Of a flaw in the weave,
Behind the singing line,
An anguish given
Over to the spirit,
That the child feels
And the adult
The flowering meadow
Too good to be true,
Not all friends,
Walls love can’t climb,
Places we can’t see,
Or be in,
Dark cloud, the storm
In distance gathering,
The pure cessation
That has no other side,
Is not a force
Or state of anything,
Unlike the absence
After the quarrel;
Why this rift
In the harmony,
In the silence
At our thread
All the rhythms
Our simple platitudes
Our calm control,
This facile understanding.
Reading about the relationship
Of Mozart to his father,
I hear an echo of Rilke’s lines
That terrible desire to possess
Granting less freedom still,
Jealous in pain,
To grasp, forever
What validates the self,
The failing to let go,
‘I made you: serve me.’
He the delightful presence
Given to all of us
For ever, selflessly,
Singing, in the cupola,
Through the keys,
In lips and hands,
The child’s tenderness
Echoing through adulthood
Crying the one humanity
We are mere commentators
But still we feel the power
That flows through,
Must learn its dispossession,
Its perfect lack
Of all authority,
Of every tie but love.
Our lament, inside now,
Turns to void, to echo.
Oh, how to express
The burning or the sorrow,
Any longer. We only freeze
In the outer darkness
Or are seized,
And shaken by inner violence,
We cannot laugh or weep,
Because this world of ours
Penetrates too deeply,
Too many voices,
Too much suffering, too far
The needle enters,
Too many wars, deaths,
Tragedies, too much
Ache in our consolation,
Till we scream
No, there we smile,
We use confession
Or it uses us
To pretend humanity,
Until the Self
Can sink back into silence,
Nurse the hurt,
A child in the dark,
Or quiet at the window,
One with the stillness;
Or lost in the crowd
Of other faces, mute,
Or deaf with feeling;
Pained by those places
Where on primitive soil
Women still wail,
And men still shriek
To violate our calm;
A sky of stars
Bright with neutrality
Free of all expression,
Although not so,
Since they lack feeling,
And our intention,
Values and therefore
Meaning, which are ours,
Alone, our weight
Which is life itself,
This tremor at the root,
This ecstatic poison.
The Trees Are Honest
The trees are honest, there’s no deceit
In the water, the leaves don’t lie,
Clouds contain revolutionary truth,
The rooks going home at twilight
Enjoy the dark gusts of directness
Caw their delight at the real,
The world’s alive,
Inhabits the evening cedars,
The field of thistles,
The grass bowed over
The silhouetted firs,
With no misstatement,
Nothing is naming
Pretending to anything more,
Kowtowing to fond illusions
Subservient to dream,
Buying or selling,
No imperfections in the breeze,
It goes wherever without intention,
And no authority.
The trees are honest,
They don’t wear clothes,
Insects, bark, and dust
Of immaculate pollen
That is what it is,
Going on, unasked,
The self-less gene,
And not unconscious
Because that’s our concept,
Whatever possesses no language
Is mute before words,
And lacks all referents:
The air is candid, silent, open,
The world is alive
And veracious light
Reddens the evening cedars.
Looking Outward, Seeing Valley
Trails of mist caught on the ledges,
Tiny gold larch,
Why can’t the eye restless
Hold still on beauty,
The ache in the heart (mind)
The yearning is pain,
And the light
Hovers over the grey heron
In an angle of river.
Trees sigh at the stir of the wind,
Branches rise and fall
A leaf ticks on the twig,
A pebble lifts and drops
In the depths of the flow,
A long blade of grass
Hanging there flicks
From side to side,
The mind too quivers,
Beauty there passing by
Into the fall and fragment
Despite the endless creation,
And no standing still,
We must move
Ahead to catch this present
We can find it.
A billion bright leaves
On a long hillside,
Weigh in the mind
Against the human pain,
Our repetitive agony
So futile tedious
When only this one life
On intentionless Earth
Should make us all
One urge of compassion.
Come get beyond gods
All the wrong process
Suffered from childhood,
Self, delusion, mortal kind,
Too much celebration
Of the marvellous dead,
Too much celebration
Of the trivial living,
Here trails of mist
And the solitary heron.
Coiling white river
And dark, from up here
A ribbon, and logs like sticks
And far off somewhere
Are roads and houses,
Make from fewest words
The tiniest poem.
How can I fix
The mind on beauty,
Stop the restless
Kill the craving;
All warmth, humanity,
All of our tenderness
Those things that fade?
There are things inside us
We never escape,
Space beyond us
We never cross,
Identities we never capture;
Everything, if we’re not careful,
Is only how to pass time,
The mind a skein
Of awkward misinformation,
Facts, wishes, visions,
All jumbled together
Connected by wires,
Branches of trees hold their leaves
In the air,
The highways are full
Elsewhere. Oh, where
Are you rolling,
Through deepest dark
In the light of stars,
I want to hear affirmation
Of music, read tender verse,
See glowing colours of light,
Feel what we have given
To the cold Universe
With veils of energy
A god would create if it could;
One step beyond us,
So difficult to breathe
Yet not so for others,
Some born with a stupid
To the chill of pale stone,
And the hurt of being
Simply this creature confused
From the womb of space
And the sieve of Nature,
Mind without role,
Heart without aim,
Love without destination,
Beauty without the means
To fix this in time,
Make all time present,
And moment the stillness
Of art, or art’s repetition,
To catch the white mist, the gold larch.
Path at Night between Trees
White rim of cloud opens
To a show of stars
And a soft dimness
Under rustling oak,
Crosses the grasses,
Bird in its leaf-cave cries,
Cold, out of its hour,
Restless air and the night
A beautiful roving
With forms half-seen
And lights that can’t be expressed,
Shudders of being,
Shivers of apprehension,
Dark in this womb.
Chill wood smells,
Thoughts that fall
Constellations high north
Far east in profusion,
Plates of intangible colour,
Over fir, beyond birch
Distance, size of a thumb
In the arc of the eye,
Faint glow between trees,
Who’d ever sleep,
Un-tired by such beauty
Make this their being.
Now scratching of branch
Tick and creak over
The floor, dust, bark,
Of the wood,
Breathe universe in,
Become the smallness
Of life on this Earth,
The live spirit joined
Either end to the dead
Put hand on bole,
This roughness of things,
Remember all sweetness
Past, imagine all futures,
Be, in the soughing.
Birds of Thought
No, we’re not merely instinct,
But birds of thought
And the lakes we land on
Are not in nature,
But in the irreal
Between nature and mind
Or rather, of both.
Not drowned swan trapped in the ice,
Or gasping in dust,
Wing-beat of raptor,
Or flicker of wren,
Over shining trails
In the air,
Or deep in the trees.
No, we’re beyond the seasons
Or rather create
Winters, springs, summers, autumns
Between all landscapes
Between atom and star.
What’s in their Mind, the creatures, something
Like ours, but harder it seems to know
Than difference between human beings
(Though consider impairment, addiction,
Consider the distance between us also,
Living and dead, the expression
That’s left behind in form’s achievement
As well as the here and now complexity)
Still it’s hard to reach across to animal mind,
Which is delicate, subtle, lovely, and deep
As ours: whales and coyotes sing, the
Hawk flickers over the wind-blown grass
And the fragile mouse has tremors below,
Nor is theirs simply eternal present without
Memory or future, only watch as they dream,
Look at their stratagems, view their habits,
Understand insects, gaze at dragonflies,
Wonder how wasp ticks, what the bee sees.
The universe of feelings is common, is shared,
Don’t you see the tracks of those they have left,
And leave: the weight and ease of their passage?
Deer step carefully, sheep so adept at edge of cliff,
Hummingbirds flashing in crimson, azure, green,
Navigate their eternity with more grace than we
Who are always stumbling; struggling to rise;
Tongue-tied trembling to express; wanting to be;
Following down their trail; gone seeking ourselves.
Quiet, Diamond Bright
Heron sees: liquid grey surface, below glitter
Azure over, nothing to fear quite, snow smell
In the air, wind far out from eastern hills: bows,
Bends slow neck to eternal Earth considers light
Waits, not far the gravel beds and quarry waste,
Buzzard-calls, pigeon-clatter, don’t disturb this
Move-less concentration, sometime there’s fish,
Mostly deep glass inwardness of grey-green flow,
A breeze that blows from miles of shadowy trees,
World solid, fluid, feathered; quiet, diamond bright.
Crisis! What Crisis?
Look, if you want something like Dante,
Read Dante; Eliot, Eliot; every poet writes
The presence of her or his age: here’s the hill
From which we see all eras’ fond illusions,
And feel the chill of abandoning our own.
Poetry changes, to catch the altering human:
The world of science won’t tolerate religion,
In the end: enlightenment and games are over,
But not the dance of values, our moral choices,
Not the spirit reclaimed, nor aesthetic beauty,
Nor tenderness for the fragile, pitiful flesh,
Nor visions of the ethereal fire of our world,
This sweet blue planet’s solitary flowering.
Tonight, I Dream of You
Tonight I dream of you, and the fire
And ice of our vision returns. Desire
Is not always desire of the flesh, more
The need of the mind for true acceptance,
The spirit for warmth: where winds blow
Cold on the tundra, wolves howl, and neon
Lights in empty stores chill the wandering
Mind, is where we feel Earth’s loneliness
In the arc of glittering galaxies, dark matter,
What binds and what repels the intentionless.
Tonight I dream of you, fatigued and silent,
One with the lonely ones, solitary
Caught in the extreme tangle of your ideas
I never understood, emotions I failed
To follow. Are you happy with children
Or sad with failed fantasies, or crying out
In the orgasm of body-the-well-beloved,
Or passing like me between the houses
Suspicious of auto dark glass stillness,
In silent America, under the burning stars?
Tonight I dream of you and the fire of love
That turns its slow flame to ash, our Earth
To eternity, flower floating, eye of our warmth
Our values, what we, human, created to offer
This panoply of energies everywhere glowing,
Purpose-free and enwrapped in its own being,
All symbols, all images, what we truly know
And fiercely remember, the flares hovering
High over life, beacons rotating in darkness.
Tonight I dream of you, with every feeling.
Tonight I dream of you. We are vulnerable,
And we posture, both are real: brace ourselves
To perform on the stage of this world, but rain
On water’s more what we are, smoke in the storm.
Do you watch trees like these from a closed
Window; see squirrels running the power-lines;
Derelicts trawling the garbage, hogging the benches;
The rich sliding by on greased tracks to oblivion,
By the stores, the halls, the domes, the hydrants;
Frozen or flowing inside; melting or burning?
Tonight I dream of your meaning and your being,
Both mysteries and far, in my place of departure,
Since everything is alive, nothing lost, though we
Drift apart for all time like swift-separating stars,
Trailing a mist of words, or the colours of anger,
Reds, blue-greens of regret, yellows of jealousy,
Turn white with the void of gone laughter crying.
Sometimes I feel ready to leave, the dark enticing,
But I have things to hold me, arcs of light, trees
Throw tender patterns of shade on the roadway,
Making intentionless beauty, stilling the mind.
At times I want the poem where nothing happens,
No objects move, there’s no activity, no frenetic
Desire to capture the life of the world and proclaim
The place of the separate mind in the great gathering.
Silence occupies shadows, emptiness all horizons,
There are cities, voids of Baudelairean vision,
A grey wind off the Atlantic, with seals bobbing
Their heads in the salt-spray, or maybe they’re buoys.
There are woods that boom and echo; shores that dry;
Hills where trees split unseen streams fall in shadow;
Vast plains of swaying gold grasses deer run through,
And lions prowl, or cheetahs; and lakes under stars.
At times, at daybreak, winds rise and stir a few leaves,
Or, at twilight, a spider retreats from its glistening web
To the stem of a flower; light spins white constellations;
Waves beat; winds sigh; the valley clears its dark throat;
And no prophet comes to disturb the futureless present,
Which contains the motionless past, or ask my attention.
At times I become the poem in which nothing begins, or
Progresses, but turns around its own axis, creating space.
Sitting on dark rock reading a text
On Quantum Dynamics, the beat
Of waves on the flat sand, swirl
Of bright water scours the tideway,
Mind running on in the creature
Here, thought enabled in tissue,
All these strange tricks of Nature.
Sandpiper, dunlin, and knot step
On stilts through the sighing wash.
Boom of surf on the cliff, spread
Delta of silt, shale, shell and foam
Covering the debris of ages. Light
Shines on the page, these equations
Our functions that grasp at phantoms,
The shadowy symbols of energy’s fire,
Though its flame can be dark gravity,
Or gasps from a star, black shoreline,
Where the eye is process, like wave.
We sat here by driftwood salt smoke
When our galaxy was ash in the sky,
Learning to see each other long before
We learned to see self, the inwardness.
Now cars wait, metal and glass, above,
While the book of the future wipes out
The book of the past, gull’s necklace
Of tracks, skeleton print of unknowing.
A sea of molecules breaks, world quivers.
He Leaves Us Behind
Soft night walking November woodland
Glints of half-light in silhouette leaves,
Tender shine, from the remains of a star,
Out there below the rise of a constellation,
Orion, heroic gleams in random lines, oh,
Too much staring at world makes us blind;
What foolish people confused by morality
Do to each other, this planet, unwitting;
And no use berating the fools, it’s us all.
Far cloud glows, black cold grips the ground,
Feet slip on logs, shadows cover the stones,
Charon departs in the mist, leaves us behind.
Sweet night walking November grassland
Distant fires, sparks blow high at windfall,
Universe sinks to rest now here in the valley,
And a skein of smoke slants towards Algol.
No room for us on the stream, too freighted
With thought, emotion, the lather of living,
As the poled skiff departs, there’s a moan
Of souls, these spirits embedded in flesh,
Desperate for Lethe, and then to start over,
Clean as the midnight air, as sparkles of ice
Where the water laps stones, perfect night
Of November shining on all of us left behind.
No poetry tonight,
Throw away the giant Ego,
Examine the world that is,
One vast glitter of Tao
Stretched in the dark over Europe;
Fountain of light
Seethe that consumes the silence,
Though not the silence within.
No poetry tonight,
Not Pound’s long lament
For a vanished civilisation,
Nor Rilke’s stream of dark joy,
Nor Eliot’s sermon,
Neither unconditional love
Nor infinite compassion,
But only the coming and going
Of thought that leaves
No print in the air, or over snow.
On Cold Mountain
In the house without walls,
No poetry tonight,
The glittering silence
And the silvered palette
Of shimmering presence.
Dark deep moss under pines.
All power is empty.
No poetry tonight,
No way except
Relinquishment of all ways,
All roles are false
All acts untruth,
Hopeless sorrowful species,
A photograph today
Of a thirteen year old girl
With a gun
Astride a sad horse
With a slain deer
Over her saddle,
The deer dead,
The horse ashamed,
And the girl…
Strength’ the caption said,
Rather a terrible
Landscape behind her,
Being used, or consuming
The self inside,
On an evil altar.
Either you understand
We are creatures
In this together,
Are bared by pathos
Naked to every weather,
Or you fail to see
Yourself slung over the saddle
The bloody muzzle,
Feel pain of broken beauty,
And dead as an adult
Complete the death
Of the child.
Nature simply presents.
So preserve this planet
Before we destroy some other.
Civilisation creates symbols
It’s true, through which
The subtle mind sees
The world, never new
But always by that means,
Symbolic, and so beginning
Not from where we are
But from where we may be;
Mind is process and symbol
And neither this present
Place nor its past,
But the Irreal between them,
Yet Mind is always the symbol
That Nature presents,
So preserve this planet
Before we destroy some other,
What we make is not given:
How can it deliver
New symbols not there
Already, deep in the core?
Science Fiction: Light Relief
Science Fiction never reflects
The depth of our being,
Since it mirrors society
Though some way ahead.
Whenever did society
Encompass our being?
Aliens, monsters, physics
Of other-worlds, dreams
Of advanced (technological)
Civilisations so wise we drool
At their marvellous powers
Which usually are exerted
Against ‘inferiors’, even if they do
Lead them to paradisial shores,
Colour them blue-green, send them
Down Hollywood tunnels of fire,
Plant them in mystical spaces,
Or flavour them sometime else.
Science Fiction is light relief
From the weirdness and pain
Of moral decisions, the choices
Between our realities; those
We must make, still, to be
More than society, but Individuals.
The spirit is no place, no matter
How many stars and planets
We find or how many creatures
We meet, unlike ourselves.
Values are in the Mind, and
Always here, here our challenge,
To be what we might become
To shape out our destiny, learn
As a species how to be greater
Than this or that piece of void,
Social process, or web of matter;
How to make the Individual future,
Create the space around us,
And not be defined by time,
The co-ordinates of being.
Mind, the process in time,
Take us always beyond time,
And into those depths beyond space.
Not by Shouts Cries Violence
The way to wage war on power, is to
Show the dark world its own emptiness.
A war without weapons cannot cut
Or kill, its bullets are pure ideas
Where the shrill voices fade to quiet
Go build the great tower of values
What else have we to give to the universe?
These have been formed through us alone.
Beyond race, religion, sexuality, nation
Embrace the silence, go build the tower.
This is the way to wage war on power,
Show the dark world its own emptiness
No I don’t understand our civilisation
Frenetic activity or the roar of process
Matter mastered we mastered by matter
Alone in the dark with such transactions
I understand various deep pains in the heart
Our humanity lost somewhere on the way
The rationalisation of cruelty violence hate
How freedom is killed no limit to slavery
No I don’t understand what others cling to
Nation religion sexuality ideology race
Being a lover of silence self natural forms
Alone in the universe mind filled with value
I understand the territorial imperative the fire
Engendered in baffled minds by battle-cries,
And that two almost identical human beings
Distinguish each other revile by hidden signs
No I don’t understand why we kill the creatures
Who are ourselves deep down the dark we know
Who enter and leave life devoid of our language
And yet reveal better than us what being entails
I understand how power sucks everything dry
In all its masks including the solacing tender
How we abuse others how we too are abused
How we enshrine this in our social structures
No I don’t understand what we hope to gain
Launching ourselves further deeper in time
Crossing space between planets stars perhaps
Wrecking saving our earth fighting eating dying
I understand how hard it is to love beyond self
Beauty gone by how to fail to capture its fading
Truth and the difficulty of ever saying revealing
I understand darkness pity sadness undulant night
Slow cloud volumes moving over the air
Slow thought eternities creatures forms
Lumbering quiet through shadows of sky
Depths in which I find you lose you shiver
In endless tracts of the history of the heart
Valleys and hills of cloud piled up erased
Drifts braided channels of light and silence
Mirror lakes of grass turbulent seas of trees
Ponderous weighty over the dark lake silver
Specked with the lingering stains of swans
Slow cloud moving eternities wreathing sky
Ripples of space-time knots of existent mass
Energies bound unbound promethean shoals
Sombre prisons of flame ice crumpled matter
Vast landscapes dark storm gullies the abysses
Absorbing mind a drowned man flails sighing
And dives with the whales deep rises with stars
Wraps around earth returning on waves of fire
I am process am I there or not there churned
By the living vapour steam of witness ravelling
Slow cloud shape-shifting mounded May thorn
Snow of volcanoes tremor of seamount towers
Turned faster than Earth flowing out far ahead
Yet hanging curtained veiled from eye’s summit
Spilling grey-black over the shadow-green leaves
And here and there a glint of whiter of almost blue
While below I thrust my hand deep into the gold
Crisp remnants of autumn into the glistening core
That somehow holds me is one is the throb of life
This same intentionless glide from root to crown
From west to east or north to south this removal.
When you dig down deep
Or stare at the world enough
Each thing has integrity
Each thing so strong
It defies eludes
Even the things
You disagree with
Even the actions
That disturb your spirit:
To the universe
All process is equal
But not to us.
When you’re sensitised
Forces meaning on you
Demands to be set
In the poem
Lingers in dreams
Haunts your bed at night,
Even what no longer shames you,
Or hurts your heart:
Beauty comes stealing
Through all forms
Light or dark.
There’s a bird
Green woodpecker maybe
Its dipping flight
Through your eye,
Or a place a time words said
Sounding flutes or drums
Falling in inner space
Descending inside you
To the ground of being
Like the floor of a wood:
Are far from subtle.
If you dig down deep
All these things have life
The tough root
Other, vague, perverse.
Over the truth we spread
A veil of our knowing
A veil of affection
Our vulnerable light.
I wrote too much I grew
Contaminated by writing,
I gave away my freedom
To the tyranny of words.
Instead of breathing air
Hitting the simple trail
Or indulging in beauty.
Today I was entangled
Bemused by the Muse
Tempted by civilisation
Hot to exhibit Self.
I wrote too much I died
Into too deep a silence
Closed from every eye
Including that of love.
Today I saw something
In the Mind’s eye, star
Or flower or creature,
The weft of a feeling
And let it go, let it pass,
Went by, wrong choice,
It’s how we are caught
In the world, possessed:
Not to be caught is best.
So Many Faces
My copy of Modern European Poetry
Is no longer modern, all centuries age,
The detail blurs like Earth from space,
Till only a mottled impression remains.
A familiar cover conceals the cries
The pain the madness of a generation,
More than one: how close to the dark
They were, and how open to feeling.
For modern read Twentieth Century
That wasteland of hatred and wars
Interspersed with bursts of being,
Lost century in which I was born.
For days the book sits on its shelf,
Then is chosen, in some hour held
Tight, opened, and there are all these
Cries, sighs, calls, do you hear them?
Some names you know others you
Have forgotten, all served the Muse,
That is, the human spirit, on the edge
Of life and death, all died fighting
The worse than death, the erasure
Of the human, all touched beauty
So many faces at the crossings
Some hands choosing a flower.
A book’s a thing, language seems
A thing yet is a process, the music
The signs unfold in time the echoes
Rise in the hollow heart, the arteries,
Though nothing it seems was learned
There is the learning, so many lives
In all their complexity reduced to this
Or are they exalted, only you can judge.
I turn the book slowly in my hands
Feeling the strength not of success
(Often these poems fail the translation
Fails or the reader fails to comprehend)
But here is the heart-world of images,
Here is the hoard of gold that gleams
Over dead faces and contorted limbs
Over the wire, the craters, the disaster
Though we’re here for nothing, void
Is beauty: it is not enough not to love:
Out of my window light falls on leaves
Voices are murmuring, living, calling.
Distant TV Shots
Vast displays of heavy armament:
Trying idly to guess which country.
The rictus smile of the politician:
The amazing ubiquity of the suit.
Children expressing delightful joy:
Pondering a hundred million fates.
Young eyes in love, always the same:
Something about something leaping.
Vast and intricate mine-head juxtaposed
With a scarred landscape, leafless trees.
Chinese women poling a boat upstream:
One century bows remotely to another.
No sign of the void, the soul, the afterlife,
But a deep collider smashing things together.
Wondering what goes on behind the screen,
Knowing I couldn’t rebuild my civilisation:
Flags, rivers, cities, buildings, always more flags:
Waiting for something small and human, sighing.
They wonder what he looked like.
He looked like many people.
The photos caught some of them,
Ghosts of his passing through.
They wonder how he felt and dreamed.
Like me or you.
Each day he left his genius behind
Each day regained it.
They wonder at the things he used,
The places that he walked,
He used what we use,
Walked a fraction faster than we walk,
No more understood his skill
Than the spectators
No more than the creature
Comprehends its leaping.
They wonder if he felt their pain
Their joy their love
Was greater braver.
He only ached a little deeper.
They search his portraits
For the one true face.
He was many people.
Red fox leaping in the deep snow,
Transient, eternal, beauty,
Who can grasp your mystery?
Who can prove hide or hair of you;
Red fox leaping in the deep snow,
Forked light running in the silence;
Or sense the beating of your heart,
Pure, there: beyond our language?
Never Underestimate the Flowers
Though we die, though the lovers
Go into the air, there will be others,
And every instance of pain
Can turn to beauty, the glimpse,
The flare, that face, among shadows,
Will be replaced by a face, other,
Still, beauty will glow in the air,
And Helen live, young, and fair.
Though all is lost, nothing is lost,
Not your face, not we as we were,
That is true, but each moment we turn
Towards woods that burn, bright fields,
And the sea once, beyond us, there,
Your face by other face, other,
Yet beauty shines in the air,
And Helen lives, young and fair.
The Coldest for Years
Hunkering down under snow
We leave off wandering around,
With the creatures,
In holes and burrows,
Watch reflected light’s glow
On the book and the table,
The garden white,
The shrubs bowed down
Like Zen masters
Acknowledging each other
Mind concentrates brightly
In ultra-low-temperature silence,
Calm of unnatural quiet
Cars and people sleep,
Our world is still.
We sigh we listen to music
Watch films talk read
Dream, of life, the dream;
I’ll go out to feed the birds
Give them water,
Blackbird and thrush gleam
Black and freckled brown
In the lightness.
The beauty of our world still
That is never our world
But Nature’s of which
We are so small
And pitiful a fragment.
Roar of plough and truck
On distant hillside,
Hardly affects this peace.
Eternity like this
The soundless stars
That snow the Void.
The Space of the Void
Mind is more than you think:
Though every determinant
Were known of its process,
Its output still would move
Beyond us. Content is deep,
The world is never its laws,
Being is more than we are.
There have been other
Societies, history is not
These re-creations of ours
But a life of its own,
And there are many ways
To live, not even envisaged,
Meanings beyond this mind.
Don’t believe emotions
Are constant, though we
Exist from the ground
Of implicit genetics,
Nothing is fixed. Refine,
Refine, make it over,
Never be bound by your time.
For we are no longer
The characters in novels
We are no longer the word
As it once was uttered,
We are the Tao of endless
Beginnings, and the wild
Space of the Void.
We grow weary of being
Always in the wrong
We seek a place where
We are comprehended
A limestone space perhaps
Bare and cloud-shadowed
Or quarried place one silent
Now, uncivilised and sweet
Or the scooped out hollow
Pool of a river, where a rose
Curves from a broken wall
To drown in the grey coolness
Or a dark path between trees
At twilight after the long walk
A faint trace of rain in the air
The mind irrationally beating
Or better still sink into eyes
Into the gentleness of a face
That is not looking beyond us
That sees and comprehends us
We grow weary of always being
What is so much less than we are
In the alien space of becoming
Always failing; always wrong.
Larger Than You Think
The Mind is large the Universe
Is small. A repetition of space,
Unlike the space of your body
Where Mind in silence drowns.
Slowly the Mind grows deeper
The Universe smaller. Gravity
Draws us upward, the proton
Stays a proton, beauty its dance.
The Universe pocket-sized fits
Inside your dream. It never
Advances, the clouds go round
Ahead is the back of your head
You need a whole civilisation
Of Mind to create one poem
That’s as large as the universe,
Size being a matter of meaning
The Universe has the shape
Of whatever you wish it
To signify: the tree, the fish,
The music, the machine.
Travellers in an always strange country,
We were free without earning freedom.
By our courtyard in time the great river
Rolled its slow flood greenly through us:
Boats veered, the ferry plied. As tenants
Of dark squares waiting, streets brooding
We watched the rain wet the glass, or sigh
In distance. We admired the pomegranate,
Alien holding its solitary fruit to the light;
Our land of joy was preparing to disappear,
Sunk in its landscape of love and suffering.
Softly the huge butterflies, sinister, settling,
Fluttered, largely, in violent vegetation.
The solidity of ages, our stubborn flame,
Made life seem superficial as the morning,
Slight as the trickle of water over stones.
The world consumed our bodies tenderly
Lit you, alive, at the end of my perspective,
Narrowed all things to a space beyond us.
Careless of fate and ignorant of its being
Time, toying gently with us for a moment,
Laid its memories, silt-like, over our eyes.
Everything Of Us Can Be Seen
Slowly there was colour on an empty beach,
Though there were objects in the emptiness,
Each was an aspect of mind turned inside-out:
The glutinous slowness of retentive being,
The slight distaste, or the extreme revulsion,
The tremor of self, now tiny now enormous,
Disjointed creatures, ravelled limbs and eyes,
Hollows where body hides, stains of knowing,
Extended tentacular limbs, blood and faecal
Matter, nails, hair, flesh, cartilage, the bones
Of white existence, soft eyelashes of despair.
Tenderly there was yellow on a burning sand,
Ghost figures wafting towards rock-filled horizons,
Headlands of time, waves of frozen space agitating,
Melted forms, lava of congealed dreams, of sordid
Hates, ludicrous fears, wild passions at the margins,
Edging towards indifferent stones, or green stillness.
There were rock-pools for our existential terrors, pale
Clear, where small crustaceans played with grains;
There was disgust looming, or creeping from the sea,
Over a viscous foreshore, a real no less real because
Imagined; birds falling, dense clouds gathering pace.
It’s A World We Yearn For
Out of the caves and over the meadows
In an ancient world we found beauty,
Long before language: you think
The creatures don’t know beauty?
See how the San and the Aboriginal
Peoples laughed at us, our trickeries –
What purpose our civilisation, it’s
An accretion, outcome of restlessness.
Great beauty of the Universe moving,
The stars flowing, children dancing
Playing in the ferns, wings gleaming
Overhead, red fire at night and stories.
Mouse sits watching as we hoe the field,
The creatures in the stars are insects too
And furred and feathered scaled and sing
In another music, each plant all flowers
We know in their inner beauty, singing
Colour and scent to us, singing forms,
Finer than we can make, and subtler,
All sleep in the Milky Way dream dawn.
Bare feet on the sills of being, pelts, tails,
Masks of animal nature, deep origins
Expressed in what we are, in our flesh,
All tools natural, all ornaments pieces
Of a found world, humility makes sacred,
Not gods or demons, connected lives
Out of the caves and over the meadows,
Each action, then a thousand million times.
We dreamed along empty roads in deep quiet landscape.
By that abandoned railway bridge, I felt the barbed-wire
Parting our selves from silence, from an enchanted land.
There was the territory of gone poetry: we knew its traces,
Lines of relationship, of others, we cannot enter: voyeurs,
How we long to do so, though the mystery would all fade
And reveal the far ghosts as faces empty and still as ours.
We went through all the places that they traversed together,
We followed the trail, those fields through nameless plants
Seeding themselves in air, crumbling fragrant to the touch,
Through all those transient and lovely things, the flames
And lights of their peculiar ground, the resonant pathways,
Down the deep channels of meadows, by motionless farms,
Until we reached at twilight in fine rain that darkened wood,
First seen over timber gate, nettle-thick entrance brooding,
The rides vanishing far off into greenness, settling blacker,
The stifled firs, dead-branched in the lower margins, rising
Out of a mat of needles, pads of dust, a litter of soft neglect,
Felt, as we strayed hushed through its caverns, melancholy
And the nervousness of night; the loneliness of our universe,
Though all its spaces fit inside the mind; life’s pass at death.
Emerged to a green field, warrened, hollowed and unused,
Felt the rain profound on our faces, marched with the dead,
But through a softer dark, where the words still congregate
Over a field, like birds; down the hedgerow, like bramble,
One pale rose still ecstatically singing; in clinging shadows,
Voicing the first world, softly declaring self among selves,
A communion of our meaning, the sole unique thing in us.
Silence and Freedom is the house
Where I am most at home,
In the deep cold of winter
Night, snow in the bone.
Spellbound, where the darkness
Transmutes the frozen grass
To iron; ghost skies above me;
Waste and winds at last.
Silence and Freedom is the house
Where I am most alone,
And most myself: whispering
Songs of stone.
Mind Is A Garden
It’s a matter of glittering mind.
Your prison is only a prison
If you make it so, bound
By the tyranny of history.
Our magic power’s our ability
To process the past into some
New future, imagined many
Times, realised never before
In the intricate detail that is
The actual. Words are only
Words, images only images,
But each breath’s a universe.
If you trap yourself in conflict,
Ask yourself, why not walk
Away, into inner freedom.
Nothing un-thinks a thought,
Peace has a thousand ways,
And myriad voices, violence
Only one. Mind is a garden
Tend your gleaming flowers.
Darkest of forces, resentment;
Heaviest of fetters, hatred.
In an instant, turn away,
Be free. Mind is freedom.
Foolishly we chain mind,
Defeat ourselves by memory.
So many causes unreal,
So much bitterness self-imposed.
The external things bind us,
Tribes, nations, religions,
The detritus of history.
But Mind is always free.
There are many kinds of untruth,
Some are easy,
Some feel like a deep corruption
Of the inner mind,
Despite their lightness;
The story told, seems no lie when read
Yet to tell a story is to lie;
The role well-acted, seems real emotion,
Yet to act a role is to lie;
Some feel the lie too deeply to do either.
There are many kinds of deception,
Some are masks,
Others are the corruption Plato feared
From art, see it from his angle,
Despite its strangeness;
The myth enacted, seems a sacred dance
And no fantasy,
Yet to live a myth is self-deceit;
To see the vision, seems eternal truth,
A light on being;
Yet to see visions is to plunge into illusions;
Some fear the mask too deeply, to do either.
That flickering of the creature,
How its darkness
The darkness of lack
Of language sends us
Headfirst down the slope
Of being into first times;
Into a curious underworld,
An intimate realm of feeling,
No longer accessible
To the civilised mind.
And even the primitive
Human is civilised,
Since word is always light.
That forgiveness we should ask,
For our betrayal:
Of the world creature inhabits,
Our disregard of the deep sacred
Which is absolutely nothing
To do with religion,
And which must be redeemed
And recovered from religion,
In order that we might
Understand, the intentionless
And irreligious earth.
The creature sees us more
Clearly than we see ourselves.
Why are we so honoured
By the creature’s visitations,
By its mute disregard
For our appurtenances,
Its intense focus,
On its familiar being?
Because in its darkness,
That is, its silence
Of merciless mind,
The bond is still
Unbroken, the unlike
Is still like?
We know the origin,
Which is devoid of gods
Devoid of external forces,
And strange commands:
It’s our origin too,
It’s the luminous deep
From which we rise,
The inception of life
And its dark return,
Its power the simple
Power of the symbol,
Who Are You Calling Brother?
Somewhere in one of those tall trees
The owl is crying the death of species,
On this planet never the same again,
Under the slow stars, the flying mist.
Celebrate the resilience of a myriad
Of creatures, and life’s wild excess;
The human is precious only to us;
Each insect’s ready to take our place.
And our pretence of loving everything,
Stops short of love, is delight, awe,
Admiration, not in the final analysis
Love, for the ant, wasp, beetle, spider.
We should be careful of calling those
Brothers, sisters, who would despise
Us if they knew; if they could feel
What we call disdain. Speak for them!
We can scarcely speak intelligently
For ourselves, burdened with feeling,
Sharing the blame. No cleaner than
Each other; all entangled in the mist.
I watch a silent moon, slide hazily
Across a stream of stars. In tall trees,
The owl is crying the death of species;
My mind and heart, guilt’s mysteries.
Humility Is Endless
I love that beautiful instant, swiftly gone,
That time, as a century ended and began,
In which poets were sensitised to this place,
With a new concentration on the thing itself,
And not the associations it evoked, on world
And not the self, a gazing, staring, focussing
On what was only then realised to be passing.
We learn to know what we love its vanishing.
Hopkins has it, the sensitivity, and Stevenson,
Being as being, and not how it might be used,
A deeper humility, and recognition, to which
Like Edward Thomas later, they were attuned,
By a sensibility conscious of a world waning;
By knowing their limitations; and its mortality;
By a prescient inwardness. It’s the death of one
Kind of metaphor: the birth of another, deeper.
Some say they’re minor voices, believing that
Stridency, maybe a more universal application,
Make for greatness, they make for greater fame
Perhaps. Their voices sing beyond such things:
And we must learn to go with them into the less
Significant places; to watch, but more carefully,
Inscapes of dawn or spring; those simple grasses;
Some intrinsic moment the dumb eye looks past.
The soft green levels of water rippling outwards
Absorbed the mind, slow bursts of white foam,
Those wild-flowered cliffs, or moonscape sands,
Pale shore, dark rocks, deeper imploding waves,
Transient light, the drumbeat of ephemeral being,
And an eternal flowing. There was a secret flavour
To the mind, a sweetness of the hidden inner core.
The universe outside us, unmade by human things,
Was a land without language, lacking love, but not
Without signs and signals, information: past hours,
The future, not yet wound aching into our present,
A sea of futures brimming beyond the bay, glitter
Of seal-heads in the swell, the far buoy booming,
And something there that moved, flashed, showed
A wing in the air, and swooped to retrieve – what?
Or a fin arcing lazily from silence to silence, spray
Down a hidden blade, carving mysterious distance.
Did we feel the sadness, landscapes of melancholy,
Of what outlasts, inhuman, or only the clasp of the
Precise, the delicate crab, the dark green anemone?
The returning is strange. The thoughts, the feelings
Of a life, too rapid, unformed for words, dialogues
Of the senses, emotions here and remembered, pain,
Desire, idea, entangled reflections, forming the roar
Still of becoming, dying down, to a seethe of waters.
The promise no longer there, but another meaning
Undertaken, done, gifted by all luck, every chance;
The crash of the wave, the glitter of its wash, the fire;
An unravelling of childhood, a reconciliation with all
Freedom. Life poured into its place is love completed.
A Life Is Not Defined By Time
Do you like my quiet voice
Of the other reality,
And the greater,
Those pale streaming clouds
And the thin smoke of fires
Far off over shoals of pine
Or reaching cypress;
Of the green hills and the sea
To which we came
Young and possessed?
Do you like my soft call,
Soft as the sigh
Of the waves beyond the hill,
Where our romantic
Flame burned in the hearth
Of flesh and bone,
Where far off
The mournful bell
Called to the deep drowned,
Moaned in the mist
Through which we moved,
Do you hear my keening,
The details of landscape
Expects you’ll know
The feel of the slope
Flowers I couldn’t name
You gazed at
The individual lives of flowers
Folds and furls of leaf
Tiny starred emotionless
Bringers of feeling?
Do you know the granite
Of air, of silence
Which is never soundless
Which is never passing
(How the symbolic moment
Floats in mind’s slanting beam
Like a leaf caught
As it falls
And held suspended
Do you recognise the place
Which no longer exists
That we inhabit
In the memories fused by the clasp
Of a moment
And thrown to the winds
Do you feel how it blazes
Deep in the being
We never understand,
That we must abandon?
No I won’t compromise with your
View of how the world works,
No I won’t comply,
Because you think
All things can be bought
And every mind;
That gain is a god
And the word no more
Than a trick of the light.
No, I give you a toast
To love without violence
To kindness, concern
For the nurturing of life
Not for the profit;
I give you the world
Before woman or man,
There it spins in the night!
For there are no Mysteries, we see,
The World’s intentionless, we’re free:
And all Mythologies unwind,
And end here in the Human Mind.
Index Of First Lines
- Where are the wilds?
- Brushing dark webs from under the covering glass,
- Chainsaws and drills, the motors in the mind
- Down the dry hedgerows go the nameless flowers,
- It’s the gentleness we’ve lost, the tenderness,
- Giorgione or Perugino – in a far clear sky,
- It’s the precise contour of that sheaf of grasses
- Deep down far in the earth,
- Fields where the creatures go bowing their heads,
- Suddenly the words seem larger
- It’s the solidity we love
- The aboriginal elder standing
- The wind is blowing on granite earth,
- For the Future’s demon machine
- He saw nothing normal in all this,
- Dark-veined butterfly floats
- I want my mind to be dark
- No more ghost visits,
- Looking for something
- I turn on the news and think that more
- Like a stream of light
- The mountain empty
- Dark deep tracks
- In the long grass below the dark trees
- They linger on inside our heads
- All free, all to no purpose,
- Now the light is shining
- Drifting with the cloud
- Neither haven nor void
- Treading the world of dust,
- Hardly a sound, but stream falling,
- Dark upward lift of flight over grey rock,
- My agenda is freedom,
- Comfortable poetry came to sit with me,
- It is beautiful silence,
- Path to path and slowly more complex
- Chance nature is our solace for randomness,
- Glass ropes of water down the granite slide
- The silence of the tree and the valley,
- Where grey rock hovers on green precipices
- For the sensitive, Life is those shameful moments
- The dark moth, un-designed, blunders through
- Freedom in deep fields and the darkest glades;
- Step by step through the wood: the trees move,
- The deer, invisible, was there in the lens,
- It glitters, the poetry of the past,
- And then, the world was there,
- We can’t go back to the lake-shores
- Those leaves designed like light.
- Beautiful, this deep Nature
- Reading about the relationship
- Our lament, inside now,
- The trees are honest, there’s no deceit
- Trails of mist caught on the ledges,
- White rim of cloud opens
- No, we’re not merely instinct,
- What’s in their Mind, the creatures, something
- Heron sees: liquid grey surface, below glitter
- Look, if you want something like Dante,
- Tonight I dream of you, and the fire
- At times I want the poem where nothing happens,
- Sitting on dark rock reading a text
- Soft night walking November woodland
- No poetry tonight,
- A photograph today
- Civilisation distorts
- Science Fiction never reflects
- No I don’t understand our civilisation
- Slow cloud volumes moving over the air
- When you dig down deep
- I wrote too much I grew
- My copy of Modern European Poetry
- Vast displays of heavy armament:
- They wonder what he looked like.
- Red fox leaping in the deep snow,
- Though we die, though the lovers
- Hunkering down under snow
- Mind is more than you think:
- We grow weary of being
- The Mind is large the Universe
- Travellers in an always strange country,
- Slowly there was colour on an empty beach,
- Out of the caves and over the meadows
- We dreamed along empty roads in deep quiet landscape.
- Silence and Freedom is the house
- It’s a matter of glittering mind.
- There are many kinds of untruth,
- That flickering of the creature,
- Somewhere in one of those tall trees
- I love that beautiful instant, swiftly gone,
- The soft green levels of water rippling outwards
- Do you like my quiet voice
- No I won’t compromise with your
- For there are no Mysteries, we see,