Here all poems are listed by title in alphabetical order.
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Here all poems are listed by title in alphabetical order.
A garden gracious, serene and spacious at Lambeth –
This is the dream, the vision that shall be its crown
You chose a marvellous morning to be born,
The orange edge of dawn, the stars paling,
How name a capital city where kangaroos
stare between leaves, past dome, construction cranes,
When you were caught red-rooted in the drain
You wept of course, but did the same again
The drowsy air, the throngs that gaze,
The ceremonial stir,
Mixed with the drone of Latin phrase..
Not vile, body, nor foe, flesh,
Your joys deluding, triumphs trash,
Fit to be foiled your every wish.
Stentorian mountain, resonant as your name,
I greet you with joy, I greet you, I give you thanks
Out of this questioning, eventual truth;
Out of this doubt, faith rooted in the rock;
As water into sand
As cloud into clear air
My love, I watch you thread your way, and turn
with a small timeless smile, and trail your trolley
unhurried through the gate of no return.
Alone to walk the dripping woods of spring
While daisies spy you?
Anna is one
What fun, what fun
‘The love that moves the sun and all the stars’ –
When Dante wrote there was no telescope:
Gone away, away,
Suddenly at a word departed,
I am so old, oh very old, my children,
Ye that are so young,
The sun like a centaur leaping the ranges
Shoots to the heart my garden, shatters
The dew in a volley of wild carillons
Ten years since that incalculable day
When from all worlds we know you slipped away
They’re burning Old Sox’s shack
Just two weeks since he died.
I’ve never killed a Marquis in a fight,
Nor led a lovely lady’s feet astray
The bamboo cut to suit you from our garden
Has become your favourite stick – dried and varnished
..You they found fallen, holding a garden hose,
Where, year on year, you watered, weeded, nurtured things to grow.
Twelve foot’s the rise and fall
Of barometric Man
This death of a man, this sudden stop of life,
Such total end, or such a faring forth
Into what regions?
Slow in the golden morning sun
He lays them tenderly, one by one,
Cambyses is the name men call me. King
Of Persia once and Egypt.
Land of the singing light
Light that first I saw
Eighty years and more
In the summit song of youth
A quiet quick catch of the breath.
..stamped with a star, but posted beyond the stars,
marked ‘No Commercial Value’, signed, with a cross,
We lay in Iceland winterbound,
And heard the blizzard blow,
You hold the timeless in your brief green boughs
The cardboard angels, home-made crib, the straw,
The new-born baby older than Abraham
Before I loved or knew you were
I spoke as I had eyes,
Come death suddenly from the sea or cloud,
With the blast of thunder and the blinding shroud,
Part of me for ever is the January morning
Coming into the Clyde in the frosty moonlight
Straggling off the highway in search of firewood
Past the tins and bottles, through the rusty wire,
..Three kangaroos, grey eminences, rose
staring, paws crossed, with worried faces fixed,
…the thunder growling,
And winds mounting, and the sky falling,
And night, and you not here.
I stood in the street in the morning,
On a blue and shiny day.
Out of the cloud my Lord the Sun,
Out of the earth my Lady Spring,
Wrapped in my gown of self-regard sublime
I heard your voice arrive from outer space.
No drums they wished, whose thoughts were tied
To girls and jobs and mother,
Come down from that Crest! It’s Australia Day, Emu –
We just want to say, mate, how much we esteem you.
Arrived at the heavenly mansions, the blessed Saint
(female on earth) was welcomed by St Peter
Fare well. We come to send you on the way
we all must walk, so final, secret, strange.
Little death of a little dog
In a death-wish world of news by body-count
Hauled headlong starward by the quadruple conviction
Of lion-lunged engines in their pride of power
Lord of earth and all creation
let your love possess our land;
My dearest love, where’er you are,
just through that door, beyond that star,
Now for your birthday the single prunus bough,
by neighbour ’s kindness spared on a sentenced tree
Always a step ahead, you’re eighty-three,
My life-support, contending other me,
For ever is the promise. I will trust
To share with you the same light and same dust.
In that keen morning it was good to wake.
The sun that roused the swans on the lagoon
Brother fare well, journeying to that Kingdom
Of faithful servants, and of work fulfilled
His question ranged the echoing galaxies
of empty cold unanswering space, returning
home to our earth.
A worn-out body laid in quiet earth,
Attendant trees, a wattle’s throb of gold,
My love and I in all agree
As one, save this thing only:
Catching the distinctive T’ang of old China
She chooses for herself the character of Punctual Autumn
Raged, raged against the death of others’ light,
Toiled, fought, till sick and blind received their sight.
You spoke, after long years, about the morning
That followed the night your first-born son was born:
Knowing the time was short
Yours was the instant thought
‘Let’s go up to the Rocks!’
When the grimy ships go down,
Down the river to the sea
Dirty decks and funnels brown
Six years since your last birthday in our midst
seems yesterday, in this same so-loved house,
My dearest love, at seventy-nine
You’re not, and never have been, mine.
If I should die, grieve not for youth
Blighted, and towers of hope that fell
Down arches of the years I hear your voice
explaining serials of our late departures,
Heard how often, still the notes compel
Unused to awe, we stand listening.
These trees reached up for light
when Jesus walked on earth,
..apartness conquered by the power of love.
Carry us with you as you journey on.
Look where he lies, a clod of earth at best,
Yet colder than a clod, for where there shone
Moths! Moths! Moths!
In trouser-leg, singlet and shirt..
The young magpie, as large as either parent,
Piteously pleads the pathos of his need.
That dreaming day it was, the bell-like air
Unclosed the naked admirable heaven,
With joyless spade I dig the tiny grave
Asking, who made me lord of life or death?
I am bereft, lost in the mystery
of music leaping quenchless, undefiled
He spoke with eager grace, and learnedly,
Of matters strange, dark, wonderful to me
Music and the Heart run hand in hand
Naked over the shining sand,
‘All things are flux: there’s nothing fast,’
Said Heraclitus, ages past,
My nine-hours son, so wrinkle-faced
Wry concentration of distaste
To find your Person so displaced,
‘Eternity and time becoming one’
you wrote for Daniel’s one day in our world.
Where now the virgin forest reigns
In solitary state
Awake! For morning like a faithful Scout,
Has touched the switch that put repose to rout,
This mountain means discovery, since the day
I climbed it first in boyhood and alone,
O mortal man, how fleeting is true bliss,
So eager sought, so often seeming found
On the mountain-top, before the coming of snow,
The everlastings starred the tufty grass,
Oxford! What change indeed is here!
Where are the sweets of yesteryear?
Between the tumult of crucifixion
and the diapason of resurrection
that bar of absolute silence.
You are late coming home
To the house we share
An audible silence
Chills the air
We sing of sunken treasure-ships in coral-girt lagoons,
And ancient casquets burst with weight of ducats and dubloons,
Dark sea dark land lie close beneath
The muffling guilt of night,
When a man dies
We find that suddenly there’s time to praise him.
Mid all these problems we’re confronting
I come to sing the praise of punting! –
Where wooded hills run downward to the sea,
Beside a land-locked harbour, still and deep
Waking to a diapason in the downpipe
I peer through curtained panes to a curtained sky
The dappled sunlight heard those airy footsteps on the grass,
Rustling in the coppice and
Dancing on the sward.
“Boy killed on Bicycle”; smallest print, four lines
Islanded in a tossing sea of type,
As homing bird the prisoning hand releases,
As tide, unyoked, brims up the beach anew,
For ten years following the death of Honor Mary Scott Thwaites in 1993, Michael Thwaites wrote a poem for his wife’s birthday (21st September), as he had done so often during their 54 years of married life.
Down the cliff path, in morning sun
Sliding, we stopped. The beach had gone,
No dolphin it was, but a six-month suckling whale
gashed and shark-mauled, tribeless, motherless,
Now all the youth of Oxford are on fire
And dog-eared learning in the Radder lies.
The rousing sun’s sea-dance and dazzle
Burnishes grassy cape and cliff,
The host of hills encamped around,
The sleepless army of the stars,
Waylaid by Handel’s theme, I think of you
Now half a world away, and hear you say
‘His music always seems like coming home.’
The tree-trunk rounds, a fallen Doric column,
are tumbled on the grass beside my gate.
Above the great ship’s lifting bow
I watch the Pole Star nightly stand,
He lies unblinking, back and corpulent,
first lizard from his hibernation sleep
The Summer Term! What tales are told
By greybeards of the days of old –
I wake to the sound of the chapel Bell,
And I roll from my bed at dawning
My little son, whose face I never saw,
Who could not wait to bless your father ’s eyes
Sweet solitude, my supple slave,
Ninety years youthful, questing through generations,
historian of two hemispheres, quickener of other minds,
Beside the Camera’s bulk rotund
The impassioned prophet strode,
You may not pass this place. Here you must stop,
Though all the world’s great tides run heedless by
It was a terrible world
And into it came a child
Heavy at heart I felt that sombre story
Close in a creeping numbness on my brain;
Riding the wind, in planetary sweep,
The gull wheels on the radius of a wing.
Like liquid silk in golden eddies
the honey laps into my tin.
..The fifth day of November, Fifty North and Forty West,
Was edging to its departure, like an undecided guest,
Could we locate the enemy of mankind
(I mean the GHQ, the Centre itself,
..By a blue winking sea,
The church stands in a green place,
Green as Calvary.
The ancient art of story-telling charms
The ear, keeps its first hold on men
The whole world over.
In this dread hour for thee and all mankind
Britain, be Freedom’s fortress or her grave.
The dusky storm and the grey half-light,
The whispered word and a muffled tread
I heard a man of science tell:
The sun is ringing like a bell,
Spring held her fire
So long, the long pursuit, the watchers wondered
Would there be ever an end
This is where the water hurries under the archway,
This is where we enter the long tunnel,
Seraph my soul’s content
More longed than desert well
The greatest word in the greatest book
is that conjunction, ‘Nevertheless’,
The story, as now we see, was over-written
By Herodotus, bless his warm Hellenic heart!
“Up here the schooners used to come
For timber, years ago,
Full many wise old men have said
That this world has more ill than good
Now, when the smoking ruins smoulder low
Of what was Europe once
… obliterating in instant mini-time
a universe of suns and planets
with or without their myriad forms of life,
At first it seemed a trek of migrant ants
climbing the skyline of this great red rock
A merchant ship came sailing here today,
Her timbers stained, her cordage worn and old
From this rock spine, not three feet wide,
Rivers of a continent divide
Spring, at a bound. Once more the colourful chorus,
Daffodils first declare their lyric yellow,
Crossing the highway, furtive as a snake,
it slips through bush towards indeterminate hills.
I praise a heroine of the Soviet Union,
pianist Yudina, through Moscow’s gloom
spelling a Mozart magical concerto.