Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bede's Advice

Female Sparrow, England, image diliff, cc

Bede’s Advice


"O’ King,

It seems to me

The life of man on earth

Is short and swift

Like the flight of the sparrow

In the darkest winter

That flies through the room wherein you sit at supper,

With your earlmen and thegns,

As the fire blazes in your midst,

As the meadhall is warmed,

As drinks are raised about

In salute of your wealth and health

As the wintry storms of snow rage about. 

The tiny sparrow, black and brown, grey and white

Unarmed except for wings

And a chest to boast its prowess

With feathers loosely fitting

As if it forgot to tuck in his shirt

As indescript as the twigs

With which it makes its house

As grimy as the dirt wherein it finds its food

The life of man, O’ King, is short

As this tiny sparrow, who

Flying in the door at once is quickly out the window

O’ King,

While within he’s safe

From the wintry tempest,

From his kith and kin who plot,

From his neighbors who covet his lot,

And would steal his kingdom

So, this life, O’ King, of ours,

Appears for a little while

And what may follow or went before

Is uncertain

[Note. This poem is based a passage from Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England, Chapter XIII, (Bede c. 673-735). The pagan King Edwin of Northumberland wishing to marry a Christian princess was told he must convert. He assembled his advisors and, after listening to the Christian Paulinus, one of Edwin's advisors recited the parable of the sparrow, concluding that if this new Christian teaching brings knowledge more certain, it seems right that the king should follow it.]

Friday, January 8, 2016


Childhood is a time when a goose could write rhymes and it would all make sense.

So where is the dog, where is the dish, Where is the star with which to make a wish?

I had a dream about non-sequiturs. I was a cow, you were the moon, my little dog laughed, and the dish ran away with the spoon.

And somehow it all made poetic dianoetic sense.

Consider present tense.

I have a plan, I am a cow, might I jump over the moon and would my little dog laugh to see such a sight, let the dish run away with the spoon.

Doesn’t follow does it?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Violinist

Writing poetry, you start with and idea. There you are with your mum... and where does it take you?

violin from 1658 by Jakob Stainer

The Violinist 

There you are
With your mum inside her tum
She stops
In a second hand shop in Notting Hill
What will she buy while you wait?
Something vintage, something quaint,
Perhaps a brush, some tubes with which to paint
Something to inspire
A work of art as beautiful as Renoir
If she dares something rare and not a coffee cup
Something quirky as a turkey
Stuffed and mounted
Made up by a taxidermy
All the while you squirm all wormy
With thoughts
Of who knows what
Hoping that her choice is socially acceptable
Something conventional
Perhaps a book to while away the hours
Waiting patiently for you

You listen

Imprisoned as you are
For some apparition of the future
And her dreams of what is to come for you
Finally, her indecision is over
And you hear
In your still unformed ear
The gentle sound of the strings of a violin
And within the mother’s tum
Stirs the ambition to be a musician