Wednesday, 21 November 2012

"There is a Great Wonder..."

   There is a great wonder in silence.
In silence the Fireball expanded in
   A fecund miasma, not like brute
Zeus scattering his seed in rambunctious
   Frenzy, but like the noiseless progress
Of dreams – lurid, efficient, working their
   Way through boggling creations to a
Logic more startling than dreams. Nought after
   Nought mustered behind that initial
“I Am”, gathering time in the ‘O’ of
   Their gazes until naked, stubborn,
Clinging to its rock like a child to the
   Breast, an active chemical started
Laughing and dying. Suddenly sound was
   At home, screeching with the wind from a
Razor-backed scarp, or grunting in the springs
   Of a valley bottom, accepted
Into meaning by the coils of the ear.
   And silence, also, inveigled the
Creatures, pulling them short with a stunning
   Absence as they deciphered whispers
Which had not been whispered. For silence is
   The language of God. This agony
Of molecules, this litter of ice-bound
   Debris, receives the Word like a tone
Of voice unexpectedly present in
   The galactic mumble. What it means
Bamboozles the senses, although like a
   Novice copying the Lives of Saints –
Lonely at his work, his teeth aching – one
   Can risk in a margin: “The sun is
Shining; it is quiet; how good is God.”

© March 1983


A lover weeping by a brook
Began to quench his crying thirst –
   “Who would credit all the woe
   When the best becomes the worst?
      My princess with a look,
      With a fatal, final ‘No,’
Has turned to ashes in my mouth
         This summer taste,
And fallen to a July drouth
         Where none can sing
Our country life is now a waste.”
A starling with a broken wing
   Said, “No matter what you say
   Time will wash it all away.”

A recent patient from his bed
Surveyed the hospital with fear –
   “What if I should die tonight,
   Who will care or shed a tear?
      The pain that’s in my head
      Like an active piece of light
Prompts the question that I put.”
         His neighbour who
Had stirred the waters with his foot
         Put off his death
And did as much as he could do.
He whispered through his failing breath,
   “Say the worst that you can say,
   Time will wash it all away.”

Heraclitus strode the hill
Muttering to an empty sky,
   “Life is what approaches fire,
   To fall away is then to die.
      The wolf which makes a kill
      Let loose upon a byre
May dip its teeth within the blood,
         But when the snows
Have turned the northern fields to mud
         The frozen stream
Will sing beneath the ice, ‘Suppose,’
Become as distant as a dream.
   After we have had our say
   Time will wash it all away.”

A watcher on the final night
Felt solid earth beneath his shoe –
   “Cosmic Mother, ever stern,
   Tell your creatures what’s to do.
      Will this rocky height
      On which we stand and learn
Survive the portents of the stars?
         Our children cry,
More terrified than in the wars,
         ‘O let us live
That we might put our sadness by.’”
The dying sun exploded with:
   “There is nothing you can say,
   Time will wash it all away.”

© August 1980

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

An Ending

Efficacious formulae
Though we know not what they mean
Lead us up the garden path
Help us keep our fingers clean;
Having pulled the world to bits
Over whisky with a friend
I can sleep a dreamless sleep
Blithely sure it will not end.
Lorries thunder on a road,
Neighbours quarrel all the night,
Not a thought and not a qualm
Make me think I am not right.

Hence, in politics I find
Your ideas just will not do,
Doctrinaire tomfoolery
Out of date as much as you;
My ideas are to the point,
Badly needed I may say,
Broadly-based and well-thought-out,
Obvious as is the day.
If in time they’re found to be
Sadly distant from the mark
Blame it on conspiracy
Hugging shadows in the dark.

Or again, in personal life
Knowing what I wish to know
Once-close friends may drop like pins –
That’s their business how they go.
Health-checked and with much insurance
I’ve a sound belief which holds
Life’s a freshly laundered blanket
Free from shocks and sudden colds.
Many hours and many days
Stretch before me out of sight,
No one thinks about disasters,
Have you had one? Never? Quite!

Who, though, staring at the sky
After dark and after noise
Would not think on that dread day
Which will undermine our poise?
When the nebulae collapse,
Heat death like a dying stain
Will, across the cosmic spaces,
Cancel out what might remain.
So an ending stalks us all;
All of us despite our views
One day will receive a call
We’re unable to refuse.

© December 1980