I am delighted to announce the fruition of a a special project that the artist Roger Wagner and I have been working on together for the last couple of months. You will remember that I have been composing some ‘Quarantine Quatrains’ , in the metre of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, as a kind of ‘New Rubaiyat’ for our times. Happily this caught the attention of the excellent artist Roger Wagner, and, since the original Rubaiyat was so often published with beautiful illustrations, often exquisite Persian miniatures, Roger kindly agreed to make a beautiful set of seven ‘miniatures’, on Nepalese paper, illustrating and commenting on the text of my poem. As the final section of that poem is an elegy for the care workers who died of Covid themselves in the course of saving other people’s lives, we decided to dedicate this book to them and to donate our work on it, so that all profits, after the costs of printing, posting and packaging, could go to The Care Workers Charity. We engaged the Parchment Press in Oxford to produce a booklet with the poem and Roger’s illustrations beautifully reproduced, in a limited run of 6oo, numbered, and signed by both of us. By selling this at £15 inclusive of post and packaging (including postage to North America!), we hope to raise at least £5000 for The Careworker’s Charity.
So on this occasion, rather than buying me a coffee, why don’t you buy yourself this beautiful booklet, and at the same time support the care workers who are helping to get us all through this crisis. you can do so from this page on Roger’s website HERE
Here, as a taster, is the final section of the poem with Roger’s beautiful illustration and embedded below that is a film, edited by Roger, in which the two of us discuss our inspiration for this project, and which also features a song setting of this section of the poem.
At close of day I hear the gentle rain
Whilst experts on the radio explain
Mind-numbing numbers, rising by the day,
Cyphers of unimaginable pain
Each evening they announce the deadly toll
And patient voices calmly call the roll
I hear the numbers, cannot know the names
Behind each number, mind and heart and soul
Behind each number one belovèd face
A light in life whom no-one can replace,
Leaves on this world a signature, a trace,
A gleaning and a memory of grace
All loved and loving, carried to the grave
The ones whom every effort could not save
Amongst them all those carers whose strong love
Bought life for others with the lives they gave.
The sun sets and I find myself in prayer
Lifting aloft the sorrow that we share
Feeling for words of hope amidst despair
I voice my vespers through the quiet air:
O Christ who suffers with us, hold us close,
Deep in the secret garden of the rose,
Raise over us the banner of your love
And raise us up beyond our last repose.