For various reasons I have been contemplating mortality, love, and loss of late and here is a poem which sprung out of that. Not that the poem is strictly autobiographical, I am not, as far as I know, about to leave this world, but I think it is good sometimes to imagine one’s last day, as prompted by happenstance, if only to cherish the more what Larkin called ‘the million-petalled flower of being here’.
I decided on this occasion to work with another metre, a different drum as it were. I usually write in iambs, often iambic pentameter, but on this occasion I opted for dactyls which gives the metre a strong spring and push, emphasising the incantatory effect of the repeated ‘never’s. Indeed I confess this poem was written as much for its music as for it’s meaning.
The picture below, whilst not quite ‘a resinous glade’ is one of the lovely woodland paths around Girton in which I delight to walk and sometimes compose.

As usual you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the play button


Closing my eyes against all that is left to see,
Folding my hands when there’s so much undone.
This is the last of the days that are left to me,
Last of the light and the warmth of the sun.

Hardly a moment it seems I have lived with you,
Swiftly I leave what has scarcely begun,
Telling again all I know I will never do,
Losing at last what has hardly been won.

Never to run through a resinous glade again,
Never to bathe in a clear-running stream,
Never to move between sunlight and shade again,
Never to wake or to sleep or to dream,

Never to look on the light of your face again,
Never to turn at the sound of your voice,
Never to yearn for your warmth and embrace again,
Dead to all feeling, desire or choice,

Never to love again, never to leave again,
Never to sing again, never to sigh,
Never to give again, never to grieve again,
Never to die again, never to die.



Filed under imagination, literature, Poems

5 responses to “Never

  1. Beautiful and sad but not so sad if said for oneself. I think it is the beauty of it, not to think of anyone but oneself and yet being informed by our losses. It becomes a song to life. Thank you Malcolm

  2. Malcolm,

    You are a gift for sure! I appreciate your eternal perspective left unspoken until the last three words. You and Stratford Caldecott should become aquantainces. You are the next generation Inklings from what I can surmise from this side of the pond. As a one time lyricist, I have to say, well done!

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks. Indeed Stratford and I are friends and have been working together to preserve the Chesterton Library. He is a wonderful man and a fine writer

      • Right now I have in my hands one of his books, Beauty for Truth’s Sake.
        I’m pondering a line from page 87:
        “Yet we must return to the central idea that God’s archetypal forms or Ideas are inevitably found within nature at every level, reflected with greater or lesser degrees of accuracy.”
        I’m fascinated by the Speed of Light and Speed of Sound and their relationship to the universal standard of linear measurement and time, the meter…3 x 10^8 m/s (2.997) and 333 m/s (@ 3°C) based on v = (331.5 + 0.6T) m/s.
        What is most apparent about these relationships is that they both point to the Trinity and especially the 3rd Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The speed of light isn’t exactly three for if so large a number was exact, it would point too perfectly to the Creator. God does not want us to be robots in our appreciation of faith. He leaves us tantalizingly close. The speed of sound “that small still voice” is also close, hovering around 333.
        Studying the history of the measurement of the constant speed of light (celeritas), the variable speed of sound, and the establishment of the metric system in France, provides witness of the handiwork of our Triune God who is at the source of science, something we already know in our hearts.
        As the Marquis de Condorcet put it in the 1790’s, the universal (catholic) metric system was, “for all people for all time.”

  3. Thank you. Timely. And I’m thinking about the timelessness and ‘spacelessness’ of the Holy Spirit these days when I look at mortality as she sits on my shoulder.

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