More Poems

At St Uni Holy Well

I came to a hollow, a secret place,

Where dwells a timeless hush;

Where dew-drops shine on the spiders’ lace

And ferns grow long and lush.

Three stone steps descend to a pool

As deep band dark as ink,

The water there is clean and cool

And so I knelt to drink

In the depths, half hid from view,

A glimmer, shadow-kissed;

I reached far in, and out I drew

An egg of amethyst.

A holy gift some pilgrim soul

Had brought here from afar,

That healing waters make her whole

As eggs of crystal are.

Reluctantly I said goodbye

Returned it, set it free,

And there in silence may it lie

For all eternity.



What do the limpets dream of

Under their hoods of stone,

As the tides swell in and the tides stream out

And each one sighs alone?

What do the waters laugh about

In a voice so fierce and free?

As the waves surge in and the waves sweep out

They exult in a minor key.

For the restless realm of the shifting shore

Is a desolate place to be,

As the sun and moon play tug of war

With the ebbing-flowing sea.

And far above in the tumbling skies

The stalwart seagulls sail,

And down to the sea their relentless cries

Ride proudly on the gale.

From cliff to cliff their music rings:

The echoing heights resound

As they sing the praise of all fearless things

That roam the wild world round.

While yet in their enchanted sleep

The dreaming limpets know

Of ancient beasts that ruled the deep

In ages long ago.


Mermaid Dreams

A murmur lulls in the twilight sands

On lonely shores of distant lands,

The rippling lap of clear lagoons

Caressing, blessing desert dunes.

Kissing, cradling wavelets curl

Smooth and bright as mother-of pearl.

As wafting, drifting fragments ride

In circles on the changing tide,

A myriad, myriad grains of shell

Sway and swish beneath the swell.

And, I fancy, phantoms rise

To swim before my wistful eyes

And touch and take me by the hands

To distant shores of lonely sands.


Spirits of Music

From deep in the hillside a thundering comes,

A tumbling, rumbling, rolling of drums,

Through tunnels and mineshafts the kettledrums roam

And the underground, echoing dark is their home

In a pool of bright water, a rippling mere,

Shining shoals of flutes appear,

Their gentle voices scarcely awake,

The spirits who dream in the depths of the lake.

In a cemetery ancient and overgrown

An oboe slips from behind a stone;

With a timorous note it has vanished from view

Among the brambles, the cypress and yew.

When weeping willows are waving in gales

The harps in their branches play watery scales,

Their leaves come a-fluttering, whirl to the ground,

To the ripple and sigh of this sorrowful sound.

From beyond the wastes of burning sand

A fanfare rings across the land;

Ardent trumpets clamour an clash

As in the desert sun they flash.

Afloat on the night over fields of snow

Drifts a flock of violins each with a bow;

They ride through the arch of the crystalline sky

And they sing to the numberless stars as they fly.

O’er wastes of water there wander blind bells

Of the desolate ocean their tolling tune tells.

They voyage on the vast, lonely and free,

Like phantoms of sailors lost to the sea.

Thus music is born in all realms of the earth

From the beings who live there in sorrow and mirth;

In sunlight an shadow, in laughter and tears

Their voices unite in the song of the spheres.

June 96

On Returning to School after the Holidays

Remote as a dream, now I’m awake;

Cut off from the stream as an ox-bow lake;

Serene and sublime,

A meander one time,

But the river now runs on without a break.


Seashell Song

I was looking for shells by the seashore;

I’d been searching for nearly all day;

But the finest shell that I ever saw

The sea swept away.

A rare and beautiful jewel

One moment so tangible lies,

But the whirling waves of whims so cruel

Have snatched back their prize.

The ripest fruit grows out of reach

And gold is dug in a far land;

And the loveliest shell on any beach

Shall be pounded into sand.

Spain, 1983

On making a complete cock-up of my maths mock A-level

It isn’t the A-level, it isn’t the retake,

Don’t worry; it’s only the mock.

I haven’t got an excuse like a headache;

I just can’t do it, and it’s rather a shock…..

I wish that I understood 3D vectors,

I wish I could integrate sine x plus cos x squared,

I wish I knew the difference between segments and sectors,

And I wish my arithmetic wasn’t so bad.

What can you do when Cos A Cos B

Is meant to equal minus K squared over 3?

If you have to find |z1 z2|

Well, what do you do? I wish I knew!

How d’you solve simultaneous equations

Full of log2 x plus 1?

I’ve been in similar situations,

But I cannot remember how it is done.

If a man has 1005 pounds

He may do what he likes, they are his possession –

But he might have done it with equal amounts

And not a geometric progression!

A quadratic polynomial, P

Is really not my cup of tea –

Something ought

To equal 0

But I’ve no idea what it could be.

How do you find alpha squared?

Or theta in terms of x (in rad.)?

What do you do? I haven’t a clue!

Yes, I’ve failed this exam, which is rather sad.

January 1987

(The Problems are all from questions in the actual exam paper)

On the Suicide of Cassius Linnell

Many were the times when Hywell would talk to me of you,

And wondrous were the stories he would tell,

And though the times I met you face-to-face were very few,

Cassius, I felt I knew you well.

You seemed to me to have the winds of Fate at your command,

You seemed to me to live a magic dream

How such a life could come to this, I do not understand,

I learn how seldom things are what they seem.

Often I have thought about the mystery of your way,

The radiance of an aura that has shone;

And though the times I spent with you are locked in Yesterday,

You touched my life with visions that live on.

I wish I could have been your friend;

Perhaps prevent your lonely end.

Autumn 1991