Fill my heart

Fill my heart, 0 Lord, with joy!
Let me sing your praises still!
Calm the doubtings of my mind,
Reinforce my failing will.

Every moment of my day
In your service let me do
What your love inspires in me
To create the world anew.

January 1988

Pilgrim

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

Genesis

When I consider, in the Sistine light,
The hand of Adam and the hand of God,
Their fingers meeting in the gift of Life,
I see the vital spark from left to right
Ignite and spring. So much for Genesis.
In Man’s own image, God’s persona grows
And languid Adam life on God bestows.

November 1990

The Golden Man

“What is man that thou art mindful of him?” Psalm 8

I am a ragbag of organs
With guaranteed obsolescence,
A parcel of aspirations,
Of failings and infirmities.

And yet! and yet
Pure cosmic gold flows in my veins,
Gold laurel leaves surround my head
And, in the arcades of my mind,
A spirit moves, begot by stars.

I am a pit of misgivings,
Beleaguered by ancient taboos,
In the land of instant image,
A mirror without reflection.

And yet! and yet
Beyond the final range of hills,
I am my own El Dorado,
In the swamps of absurdity,
My own walled garden of delights.

19 March 1990

Traveller

We are, forever,
Sighting, approaching
Or retreating from
Unexplored shorelines.
Footprints on sandbanks
Seeking higher land,
Fresh tracks on shingle
Downwards through gullies
Out to waiting seas.
Unfinished journeys,
Always casting off,
Never arriving…
New conquistadors
Watching for omens,
Birds, constellations,
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,
Islands receding
To hazy horizons,
Leaving images
No more permanent
Than spray in the wake
Of dawn caravels.

9 January 1991

Rome Revisited

I travelled light this time
And came to Rome without
Religious certainty
To pin my conscience down,
Free now to excavate,
From strata of belief
And primitive taboos,
Some vestiges of truth.
Now, gods and ages merge.
Inscriptions, sculpted all
By one perennial hand,
In unison proclaim
The noble promises
And hollow alibis
Of each successive age.
St. Peter’s colonnades
And fallen architraves
Of Augustan temples
Possess this in common:
All are, terminally,
Fatalistically,
In varying stages
Of decomposition.
No crying of the geese,
High on the Capitol,
Can protect the City
Against time and reason.

13th November 1990

Adult Shores

Poem for Bridget

So softly in the summer night
Your fragile vessel has set sail,
Back through your Irish Infancy,
Bound for the Islands of the Blest.

We stand upon our adult shores
And through the curtain of our tears
Perceive at last, in all its grace,
Your loving presence in our lives.

Now comes the gathering of our years,
the harvest of our childhood days,
And in the barns of memory
We store the blessings
of your love.

For my brothers and sisters
In loving memory of our Mother 1903 – 1992