A robin sat on the roof
And sang his heart out
As we loaded wet concrete
Into the barrow,
Shovel by painful shovel,
And pushed it away
To lay the wall’s foundations.
With two tons shifted
Since the lorry unloaded
And two still to go,
We were in no mood to sing,
But robin sang on
Into the grey afternoon.
Our hearts were lighter
Even if our loads were not.

23 December 1971

February walk

The shrill two note song
Of the skylark insisted
Spring had come early,
But I knew that the
Blue of the sea and the sky
were today’s only.

9 February 1968

Titicaca, between Peru and Bolivia

In the lake of floating islands,
Beyond the haze of disbelief,
Lie the Island of the Sun
And the Island of the Moon.

The Sun God rocked our reed boat
On the breast of the sacred lake.
In the great stillness,
Between sky and water,
We closed our eyes and journey inwards.
Here, truly, was Arcadia


A Bucolic Invitation

I’ll build a bower for my love
And in its shade with her shall live.
A mystic apple tree in bloom
Will thatch our secret lovers’ room,
And climbing roses weave the walls
To scent the air when evening falls.
Here loving spirits will abide
And friendly deities preside.
King Time shall wield no sway nor might
In this our arbour of delight.
Like honeysuckle we’ll entwine
And in pale cups of columbine
Life’s nectar drink and pleasures take
And all our worldly cares forsake.
Our green oasis will conceal
The sweet emotions lovers feel
And be a school for all those arts
That lovers share with kindred hearts.
So come, my Love, and stay with me
Within the bower I build for thee,
And, in this blessed month of May,
All Life’s tomorrows live today.


Red box for letters,
Red lights for stopping,
Red spades for digging,
Red balls for throwing.

Red boots for puddles,
Red kites for flying,
Red clouds at sunset,
Red fruit for picking.

Red eyes from crying,
Red knees from falling,
Red bows for tying,
Red shoes for dancing.

Red cheeks from running,
Red face from fibbing,
Red flames for warming,
Red hearts for loving.

(And “Red wine for Daddy!” says Lucy!)

Monte Pellegrino

Sul Monte Pellegrino,
Nelle ombre dei pini,
Ho ascoltato, sotto i miei piedi,
La voce stanca delle pietre.

“Siamo create dal fuoco
E dalla forza
Degli anni innumerevoli.
Abbiamo conosciuto
La gioia e la tristezza,
La sofferenza e l’abbandono.
Le piogge dei secoli
Non hanno lavato
Il sangue dalla nostra faccia.

Ma, alla fine,
I dettagli della nostra storia
Significano niente.

Impara soltanto da noi,
O Pellegrino,
La lezione unica e preziosa
Della nostra esperienza:
La vita è breve!

Siamo tutti, anche tu,
Fiori di campo,
Colore vulnerabile,
Profumi effimeri,
Petali fragili.’

Palermo, Sicily Pasqua 2003
Corrected for me by Stefania, 22nd July 2003

New Year

Be not like Janus! Turn away!
Resist the magnet of dead years!
False gods survive in ancient stones
Nostalgia bears no fruit but tears.

Imbibe the lesson of the wine,
Cast out the pitcher and the glass!
Tomorrow’s bottles are being blown,
Between the vines the pickers pass.

If all the ages of past time
Are crystallized somewhere in me,
It is to shape tomorrow’s mould,
To sow the drill and plant the tree.

Respect the flowing of the tide,
Each surge creates the shore anew:
Change slowly makes us what we are,
Assist the birthing of the new!