Autumn mists appear
Clutching and shrouding our fields
Prompting life to sleep
The night has its fears,
It is fraught with mistrust;
I lie in a mist,
My mind swathed in dust.
When sleep will not come,
When rest is denied,
My mind is a playground,
Sense cast aside.
Struggling with thoughts,
A barrage of cares
That hardly make sense.
Then fears invade,
Not something I sought.
What happened to reason,
To logical thought?
So I wait for the morning,
The return of the light,
To banish the tension
And put fears to flight.
Nature’s steady hand
Its season’s sure permanence
Gives respite from doubt
As the dawn broke
In the pregnant East
And beams of burgeoning day
Stretched across the yellowed sky
The songbirds’ treetop threnody
Broke into my dream
Sleep giving way
And all too soon replaced
In that initial gentle awareness
Of life renewed once more
Its promise and its worries
Suddenly looming large
Within my newly unlocked consciousness
Potently recalling life’s commitments
Of my obligations
And accompanied by the knowledge
Of decisions to be made
Promises to be met
Expectations to be fulfilled
Only the guarantee of Nature’s steady hand
Of each day’s new dawn,
Of the cycle of each recurring season
Promising a prospect of its permanence
Thus bestowing respite from our doubts
Will death be as a dreamless sleep,
Or Prospero’s promised damage;
Will dreams fill up my remnant soul,
Digesting life’s excessive baggage?
For my belief, held with a caution,
And ever fraught with doubt,
Is that there’ll be a price to pay,
And that my faults will find me out.
Those indiscretions I have owned
Frailties, foibles, defects,
The fallout from my elapsed life
Could yet bewilder and perplex.
So, as I travel on from here,
Will love still follow me
Into that unknown future sleep,
Where memory has no guarantee?
Life’s fallout has to rest always
With those we count so dear;
I pray when Judgement Day arrives
My flaws with me will disappear.
It woke me from my sleep,
I heard it call my name.
Not plaintive nor appealing,
The gentle murmur came.
Not desperate nor demanding,
Nor urgent nor imploring,
A voice I recognised
From the deep grave was calling.
As she had once addressed me,
Just quizzical, requesting
A warm word in response
Our lifetime’s love suggesting
Half awake I called out “Yes?”
Expecting a reply
But no such came and then I knew
It had to be “Goodbye”.
Four times I’ve heard in recent days
my name called out on waking
It can’t be real. It can’t be true,
It must be memory faking.
A voice that I had known
From the grave’s depth calling
A voice now lost to me
Lost memory forestalling.
A wake-up call to start my day
My new life here without you
I miss you so. But now I know
You wish me life anew.
[ # 81 of My Favourite Short Poems ]
When I turn off the light
and the dark mile between us
crumples and falls,
you slip from your self to wait for me in my sleep,
the face of the moon sinking Into a cloud;
or I wake bereaved
from the long hours
I spend in your dreams,
an owl in the forest crying its soft vowels,
dark fish swimming under the river’s skin.
Night marriage. The small hours join us,
face to face as we sleep and dream;
the whole of the huge night is our room.
Re-printed from ‘The Times’, Saturday September 3rd, 2005
[ # 74 of My Favourite Short Poems ]
John Clare (1793 – 1864) was an English poet. Born in Northamptonshire, he was the son of a farm labourer, who became known for his celebrations of the English countryside and for regularly expressing sorrows at its disruption. His poetry underwent major re-evaluation in the late 20th century and he is now often seen as one of the important 19th-century poets. His biographer, Jonathan Bate, states that Clare was “the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has ever written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self.” Many of his poems are filled with a joy he experienced in nature and the countryside. Sadly, however, for the last 25 years of his life Clare suffered from mental illness and was incarcerated in a mental institution. In this wistful soul-searching poem, described by some as “one of the greatest poems of sheer despair ever written”, Clare spills out his desolation and detachment from a life which he would dearly love to have lived . . .
I AM! yet what I am who cares, or knows?
My friends forsake me, like a memory lost.
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish, an oblivious host,
Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost. 5
And yet I am—I live—though I am toss’d.
Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dream,
Where there is neither sense of life, nor joys,
But the huge shipwreck of my own esteem 10
And all that’s dear. Even those I loved the best
Are strange—nay, they are stranger than the rest.
I long for scenes where man has never trod—
For scenes where woman never smiled or wept—
There to abide with my Creator, God, 15
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Full of high thoughts, unborn. So let me lie,
The grass below; above, the vaulted sky.
A brief meditation on Macbeth’s predicament, following a reading of a book review on ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker (Pub. Allen Lane) – December 2017 …
‘Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care, The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, Chief nourisher in life’s feast.’ Macbeth: Act 2, Scene 2,
‘Methought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more… Macbeth does murder sleep! – – The innocent sleep.” ‘ Macbeth: Act 2, scene 2.
Sleep, being dead
What life is left to live
But one unfitted to the name
Rest denied is constant woe
No respite from dread
No safe house from fear
What hope can ever be
Affording no escape
Confession no solace
To the innocent
But afflicted soul
Day dawns and life now reasserts its sway;
Sleep ends and dreams now slowly fade away,
Leaving behind the gains which I thought real.
Reality and the sun the truth reveal,
That time has shattered youth and brought old age.
Shall I depart midst over-arching rage,
Those aspirations which I held most dear,
Abandoned now as hope gives way to fear?
Now that I’m hurt, unheard and unfulfilled,
Can I refute those truths my life distilled,
And face what unmapped seas fate holds in store,
Without a faith to bear me to the shore?
to my interference
in their down time
Dead to the busy world
and to my stare
to disturb their lives
with my own
Our only mutual assurance
of another sunrise
The inbuilt plight
of all creation
by a will
Words from the Heart
Writing as a Help to Thought
Writing poetry on the nature of humanity ...and vise versa.
A writer inspired by nature and human nature
short prose, fiction, poetry
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A Melange, a Miscellany, a Mishmash - of memories, reflections and comment
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the side of me most people never see
Great poets live on the edge of sanity; mediocre ones reside in the suburbs.
Life Is Beautiful