Poor hedgehog in the road squashed by a car,
What good to you was your hibernation?
Had you woken up but one day later
You might have lived to see the summer through.
But alas you were not destined to be
Another Mrs Tiggywinkle,
Hanging out washing till a ripe old age.
In the horse-drawn days of Beatrix,
Hedgehogs had greater life expectancy!
27th April 1971
I love your warmth beside me as I lie
Cocooned in night, the small hours ebbing by,
Leaving me stranded like an errant whale,
High on a wide sandbank of sleeplessness,
A prey to fancies and imaginings.
No devils now, no banshee’s warning cries,
No terrors from a nun-conditioned childhood
Invade my thoughts and force their company,
But spirits of foreboding and of doubt,
Of melancholy and absurdity,
Hobgoblins all of chronic middle age!
You are my talisman against this night,
I stroke your thigh and put them all to flight!
20 January 1990
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
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!
Oh, what a lovely thing to see,
A magpie in a snowy tree!
Oh, what a lovely thing to smell,
Violets in a mossy dell!
Oh, what a lovely thing to hear,
The sound of church bells loud and clear!
Oh, what a lovely thing to say,
I love you more each passing day!
Some mornings when the sun is up
And Daddy doesn’t go to work,
He comes to fetch me in my cot
And takes me to the double bed
Where Mummy lies, still half asleep.
The bed is downy soft and warm
And all the room is pink and white
And golden with the morning sun.
While Daddy lies and reads his book,
I play with Tick-tock and with things
Which Daddy keeps there just for me.
His watch and cuff-links I like best,
But oh! The glasses on his nose
Are such delight, I put them on
While Daddy watches anxiously,
But Mummy hardly ever stirs.
I tell them when it’s time for food
And off we go for milk and flakes
And toast with Mummy’s marmalade.
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