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!
We are, forever,
Or retreating from
Footprints on sandbanks
Seeking higher land,
Fresh tracks on shingle
Downwards through gullies
Out to waiting seas.
Always casting off,
Watching for omens,
Driftwood on currents,
Voices in the wind.
Each successive shore
Spread more seductive
Than the one before,
But no abiding
Haven for the heart,
Still less for the mind.
At the tide’s turning,
Anchors are lifted,
To hazy horizons,
No more permanent
Than spray in the wake
Of dawn caravels.
9 January 1991