What shrine shall I seek out,
Which pilgrim route pursue,
To find at journey’s end
The Constant and the True?
Which litanies recite,
Which deities invoke
With sacrificial fire
And clouds of incense smoke?
Is there a common point
On which all paths converge,
Or is perspective fake,
A trap where falsehoods merge?
In peering far ahead
Towards some distant goal,
We overlook the steps
Which daily forge the soul.
Today is now in flight,
I reach and touch its stream,
For fear its moments pass
Like some elusive dream.
I am the Here and Now
Through which all meaning flows,
The consecrated land
In which true godhead grows.
5th December 1990
On summer nights at six o’clock
The cows come slowly down the lane,
Their udders hanging low with milk
And Iris leads them by their ropes.
There’s Daisy, Sue and Goodlands Bess,
Verbena, Violet and Rose,
And Clover out of Marigold
With velvet dewlap, honey brown.
There’s Bijou next, not yet in milk,
And Patience with the broken horn,
And last of all along the lane
Comes champion Primrose, great with calf.
They turn into the farmyard gate
Where Beauty greets them with a bark;
Off to the milking sheds they go,
Each to her stall with fresh straw laid.
The fields behind them, closely cropped,
Are left to mists and fairy rings,
While red ball sun behind the trees
Sinks slowly down into the marsh.
The pails are full, the milking done,
The churns are stacked out in the yard,
All in its place the farmyard sleeps
And dreams beneath the milky moon.
15th May 1971
At the end of their long chains
The cows lie chewing.
Surrounded by pale circles
Of closely cropped grass,
They slowly regurgitate
The morning’s grazing.
Soft eyelids blink drowsily
Over wet round eyes,
Gazing into grassy voids
Or calling up warm
Visions of stone milking sheds
Bedded with clean straw.
Believers in spells
We hardly speak of it,
And yet we know
Within your secret self
The baby grows
And daily lays his claim
To food and space, to air,
To life itself,
And to our life
Which until now we shared
In love and work
And peaceful happiness.
For these quiet years
When we like rivers flowed
Each into each,
Our separate streams to bind,
My thanks and love,
My joy and faithfulness.
And for this change
When we from two shall grow
Into a third,
And found its infant life
On work and faith,
Be you my heart
And daily comforter,
As I’ll your strength
And constant husband be.
30 July 1969
Seven silver buttons
On my dress of midnight blue
There’s a wish on every button,
Which I hope will each come true.
(Lucy’s new dress from Austria)
Where are you now, dear hearts, from what far bourne
Do you survey the lives of those who mourn?
Too soon, in quick succession through the night,
Your tired spirits took their final flight,
So stars in Autumn shoot across the sky
And in one moment fall to earth and die.
But on your journey, loving, brave, upright,
You shared with us the burning of your light.
For Granny and Bumpah
Two magpies stalk across the building site,
Ruffled by the cold wind through the thorn hedge.
I don’t really know what they hope to find
In this wasteland of concrete and gravel.
Perhaps next year when the grass is growing,
There’ll be crusts thrown from our kitchen window.
Are they looking for building materials
Among the curled shavings and the rubble?
They’re welcome to share ours around the plot,
Especially as there are two of them
which always augurs well for the future.
3rd April 1971