The Child and the World

‘… a young father drugged his beloved six-year-old daughter and then dropped her off the Severn Bridge. He told the police: ‘I had to do it. There was no future for her in this world, with drug addiction, prostitution and nuclear power. What a terrible world to bring up children.’ – London Daily Telegraph

It was a terrible world
And into it came a child
His mother sang for joy
That she should bear a boy
The prophets had foretold.
But he was for the world
He was not hers to hold.

He grew in grace in lakeside Galilee
The Sabbath worship, shepherds and fisher-folk,
The pungent shavings planed from plough and yoke,
Lilies and birds, the marketplace of men,
The lamplit home, seed-time and harvest. Then
The Baptist hailed him, and a dove descended.
Thirty years were ended.

Three more remained. A dark demonic world
None knew it more than he. Herod the fox,
The Baptist’s head with stony steadfast eyes,
Jerusalem, the murderer of the prophets –
He wept most for the lost shepherdless sheep,
The famished, blind, maimed, sick in body and soul,
Emptying himself to make them whole.
They followed him, then fled. The twelve he chose
Wavered: one broke, one sold him with a kiss.

Hand-washing Pilate squirmed, made efforts, buckled,
His job being on the line, and Rome relentless;
Wrote ‘King of the Jews’ and handed the prisoner over
To a criminal’s death.

Hanging, he saw has mother and his friend
At the cross’s foot
The dicing indifferent soldiers, the savage mockers
‘Father forgive, they know not what what they do’
Six torturing hours
Thirst’s agony. The psalm he knew since childhood
‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me…’
The penitent thief received to Paradise
At last ‘It is fulfilled’
His Father ’s will, in heaven, on earth,
That man with God and man be reconciled
The meaning of his birth

A terrible world it was
Into it came a child.

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

    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

  • Last Post

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

  • For Australia

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

  • 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