Space Window

For my daughter in another hemisphere

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.’
Each bar – begged, borrowed, or plucked from Paradise –
Signed ‘G.F.H.’ with confidence sublime,
A confidence of joy, a journey dared
In certainty of finding journey’s end.
Was it those hearty meals of English beef,
Good English guineas, the acclaim of crowds,
Or, as he told, he saw once with his eyes
‘All Heaven opened, and the great God Himself’
And based his foot upon the rock, ‘I know’?

Tomorrow men will walk upon the moon,
Brush with their moulded boots rocks that were made
They say, when first our universe began.
Will they be lying there when it concludes?
But they, the intruders on that lifeless orb
Swiftly, before the lunar night, will rise
Circle and head for home, will see, each hour,
Grow larger, like a golden lamp, our earth
Hung in the pit of space, our marvellous earth,
Womb, home, and tender tomb, our loved belonging,
Our breath and bone, blessed mote in the abyss,
Will see brown lands, blue oceans, curdled clouds
Form and divide, in dazzling shape and hue,
And know they are coming home.

    Perhaps they’ll see
Our separate continents, twin hemispheres,
Like stepping-stones, with one blue strip between,
A stride at most.
    So far, so near we are,
Household of one small planet, ark of life
In the great void, a match struck in the dark,
Or else, with music of the universe,
Moving mysterious to its journey’s end
When all its sons and daughters have come home.

Poems of the Spirit

  • Life and Death

    Look where he lies, a clod of earth at best,
    Yet colder than a clod, for where there shone

  • After

    Out of this questioning, eventual truth;
    Out of this doubt, faith rooted in the rock;

  • The Old Convict Church, Port Arthur

    ..By a blue winking sea,
    The church stands in a green place,
    Green as Calvary.

  • Relativity

    “Boy killed on Bicycle”; smallest print, four lines
    Islanded in a tossing sea of type,

  • Easter Hymn

    Out of the cloud my Lord the Sun,
    Out of the earth my Lady Spring,

  • Milton Blind

    That dreaming day it was, the bell-like air
    Unclosed the naked admirable heaven,

  • Come Death Suddenly

    Come death suddenly from the sea or cloud,
    With the blast of thunder and the blinding shroud,

  • If I should die

    If I should die, grieve not for youth
    Blighted, and towers of hope that fell

  • To J.S. Bach

    Now, when the smoking ruins smoulder low
    Of what was Europe once

  • On Cathedral Mountain

    This mountain means discovery, since the day
    I climbed it first in boyhood and alone,

  • The Prodigal Son

    The ancient art of story-telling charms
    The ear, keeps its first hold on men
    The whole world over.

  • The Last Enemy

    Could we locate the enemy of mankind
    (I mean the GHQ, the Centre itself,

  • Post-mortem

    When a man dies
    We find that suddenly there’s time to praise him.

  • Space Window

    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.’

  • Christmas Tree

    You hold the timeless in your brief green boughs
    The cardboard angels, home-made crib, the straw,
    The new-born baby older than Abraham

  • Passover

    Between the tumult of crucifixion
    and the diapason of resurrection
    that bar of absolute silence.

  • Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto

    …Listening,
    I am bereft, lost in the mystery
    of music leaping quenchless, undefiled

  • Astronomy

    ‘The love that moves the sun and all the stars’ –
    When Dante wrote there was no telescope:

  • The Honey Man

    Like liquid silk in golden eddies
    the honey laps into my tin.

  • Last Stand

    These trees reached up for light
    when Jesus walked on earth,

  • The Child and the World

    It was a terrible world
    And into it came a child

  • For Australia

    Lord of earth and all creation
    let your love possess our land;

  • Last Post

    Heard how often, still the notes compel
    Unused to awe, we stand listening.

  • Christmas Gift

    ..stamped with a star, but posted beyond the stars,
    marked ‘No Commercial Value’, signed, with a cross,

  • Farewell

    Fare well. We come to send you on the way
    we all must walk, so final, secret, strange.

  • The Word

    The greatest word in the greatest book
    is that conjunction, ‘Nevertheless’,

  • Extraterrestrial Report

    Arrived at the heavenly mansions, the blessed Saint
    (female on earth) was welcomed by St Peter

  • Canberra Autumn

    Land of the singing light
    Light that first I saw
    Eighty years and more

Poems of Love

  • Music and the Heart

    Music and the Heart run hand in hand
    Naked over the shining sand,

  • Forestry

    My love and I in all agree
       As one, save this thing only:

  • Chemistry

    In the summit song of youth
    A quiet quick catch of the breath.

  • Colours

    Before I loved or knew you were
       I spoke as I had eyes,

  • The Well

    Seraph my soul’s content
    More longed than desert well

  • Alone

    Alone to walk the dripping woods of spring
       While daisies spy you?

  • Mutability

    ‘All things are flux: there’s nothing fast,’
    Said Heraclitus, ages past,

  • Sleeping out in the Mountains

    The host of hills encamped around,
    The sleepless army of the stars,

  • Detachment

    …the thunder growling,
    And winds mounting, and the sky falling,
    And night, and you not here.

  • Release

    As homing bird the prisoning hand releases,
    As tide, unyoked, brims up the beach anew,

  • Air and Water

    As water into sand
    As cloud into clear air

  • Come Death Suddenly

    Come death suddenly from the sea or cloud,
    With the blast of thunder and the blinding shroud,

  • Surmise

    My little son, whose face I never saw,
    Who could not wait to bless your father ’s eyes

  • Coming into the Clyde

    Part of me for ever is the January morning
    Coming into the Clyde in the frosty moonlight

  • Stella Polaris: Homebound

    Above the great ship’s lifting bow
    I watch the Pole Star nightly stand,

  • Sweet solitude

    Sweet solitude, my supple slave,
    Delicious concubine

  • Point Lonsdale

    Dark sea dark land lie close beneath
    The muffling guilt of night,

  • My nine-hours son

    My nine-hours son, so wrinkle-faced
    Wry concentration of distaste
    To find your Person so displaced,

  • Autumn Song

    The sun like a centaur leaping the ranges
    Shoots to the heart my garden, shatters
    The dew in a volley of wild carillons

  • Genesis

    You spoke, after long years, about the morning
    That followed the night your first-born son was born:

  • Space Window

    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.’

  • Pause

    You are late coming home
    To the house we share
    An audible silence
    Chills the air

  • Airport Departure

    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.

  • Honor Mary: Seventy-Nine – 1993

    My dearest love, at seventy-nine
    You’re not, and never have been, mine.

  • For HMST – 1994

    My dearest love, where’er you are,
    just through that door, beyond that star,

  • Willow Tree: Two Years After    

    Spring, at a bound. Once more the colourful chorus,
    Daffodils first declare their lyric yellow,

  • For HMST – 1996

    Now for your birthday the single prunus bough,
    by neighbour ’s kindness spared on a sentenced tree

  • Tsunami

    … obliterating in instant mini-time
    a universe of suns and planets
    with or without their myriad forms of life,

  • For HMST – 1997

    Always a step ahead, you’re eighty-three,
    My life-support, contending other me,

  • Just Coming

    Down arches of the years I hear your voice
    explaining serials of our late departures,

  • HMST – 1999

    Six years since your last birthday in our midst
    seems yesterday, in this same so-loved house,

  • For HMST – 2000

    For ever is the promise. I will trust
    To share with you the same light and same dust.

  • Near and Far

    ‘Eternity and time becoming one’
    you wrote for Daniel’s one day in our world.

  • Encounter Recalled

    Wrapped in my gown of self-regard sublime
    I heard your voice arrive from outer space.

  • Going up to the Rocks

    Knowing the time was short
    Yours was the instant thought
    ‘Let’s go up to the Rocks!’

  • Away Day – Ten Years After

    Ten years since that incalculable day
    When from all worlds we know you slipped away