Tag Archives: singing bowl

Dante and the Companioned Journey 1

Dante and his Poem

Dante and his Poem

Readers of The Word in the Wilderness, my compilation of a poem a day for Lent, will know that all this coming week we are sharing our Lenten Pilgrimage with Dante. Now in that book I have alternated 3 passages from Robin Kirkpatrick’s brilliant new translation of the Commedia with 3 poems from my own sequence of nine poems ‘On Reading the Comedia’, which comes at the end of my book The Singing Bowl. As readers of The Word in the Wilderness make that journey this week I thought some of them might be interested in the full sequence from which my three poems were taken and would perhaps like to hear me read them, so I am reposting that sequence on this blog, starting today with the opening poem In Medias Res, itself a response to the opening of Dante’s poem, which opens  ‘in the middle of the path of our life’

This poem is from my collection The Singing Bowl  published by Canterbury Press and is also available on Amazon here

If English readers would like to buy my books from a proper bookshop Sarum College Bookshop here in the UK always have it in stock.

I am happy to announce to North American readers that copies of The Singing Bowl and my other books are readily available from Steve Bell Here

As with other posts I have read it onto ‘audio boom’ so you can hear it by clicking on the ‘play’ button or the title

In Medias Res

And so I start again, here in the middle,

The middle of a life I scarcely know,

How many guesses left to get the riddle?


The woods are dark and darker shadows grow.

I followed someone here, but lost her leading,

With nothing but my lostness left to show.


The voice that drew me on is faint and fading

But something else is creeping up behind

Over whose heart, I wonder, are we treading?


My shadow-beasts can scent, though they are blind

All three are here, the leopard, lion, wolf,

My kith and kin, the emblems of my kind.


They’ve come to draw me back across the gulf

Back from the path I wanted to have chosen.

Fall back, they call, you can’t run from yourself


Fall to the place where every hope is frozen…

But not his time, this time I choose to choose

The other path, path of the dead and risen,


To try the hidden heart of things, to let go, lose,

To lose myself and find again the voice

That called and drew me here, my freeing muse.


Begin again she calls, you have the choice,

Little by little, you can travel far,

Learn to lament before you can rejoice


Sing to the shadows, sing and do not fear

But sing them into love little by little

Begin the song exactly where you are.


And so I start again here in the middle


Filed under imagination, Poems

The Singing Bowl: Glances

Grantchester Meadows

Grantchester Meadows

Here is another poem from The Singing Bowl, in advance of its publication in October. I mentioned in my last post that The Singing Bowl begins with a section called Local Habitations, celebrating epiphanies in particular places. This is followed by a section called ‘The Four Loves’ which is a set of poems exploring and evoking love and friendship. This poem, Glances, which opens that second section, is in some ways a bridge between the two. It is a celebration of love and friendship, but like the poems in the first section, it is also about an epiphany in a particular place. ‘The Green Man’ in this poem is a pub in Grantchester, and the meadow, is of course Grantchester meadows, already so celebrated in song and poetry. The epiphany was a sudden awareness of everything as gift and especially of receiving a familiar landscape as a new and unfamiliar gift because you see it through someone else’s eyes.

As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button


For Maggie and Cathy

Down from the Green Man, where the meadow starts,

And through the meadow to the running stream

We saunter into summer side by side,

The three of us, and watch as three swans glide

Like some heraldic emblem in a dream

That only opens up to open hearts.

Walking between you everything I see

Is doubled and redoubled through your eyes

And through the words and silences we share,

And everything is gift! I stop and stare.

Everything dances, everything! Surprise

Glances between you both, glances to me,

And glances from the child in me who stands

Unseen between us almost holding hands.

like some heraldic emblem in a dream

like some heraldic emblem in a dream


Filed under Poems

The Singing Bowl: Southwell Leaves


The Green Man at Southwell

To celebrate the fact that we now have a publication date (October 25th) and a Launch Date (November 6th) for my new volume of poetry The Singing Bowl, I am going to feature some of the poems in it, on this blog in some of my posts leading up to the publication. It is a more wide-ranging colection than Sounding the Seasons, and its opening section ‘Local Habitations’ is a series of poems celebrating moments of epiphany in specific and particular places. Today’s poem, Southwell Leaves was inspired by the extraordinary mediaeval ‘green man’ and foliage carvings in Southwell Minster. It is also in some ways a companion piece to my song The Green Man. In that song I celebrate fruitfulness, fecundity and resurrection, with just an implicit hint of the hidden Christ in the Green Man imagery, but in this poem I go more deeply into that Christ-presence and focus on o the cross, on the letting go, the seed that is willing to have its husk flailed away and be dropped into dark winter ground, that there might be resurrection for us all.

As usual you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button

Southwell Leaves

Amidst the tympanum

His stone hair startles from

A face in the foliage.

Not just the bearded barleycorn

But a whole field springing,

The vine and all its tendrils,

Unfold from the face,

Trip from the tongue

That speaks the Word

Amidst the tympanum.


But by the rood-screen here,

His face is set like flint,

The Word unheard,

He gives his back to the smiters

His cheeks to them that pluck out the hair,

His spring is come to shame and spitting,

Under the blows the cut stones splinter

The Green Man comes to winter,

To the harness and the harrow

As flails fall to split the bearded husk

And seeds fall to the furrow,

Amidst the tympanum,

Hard by the rood-screen here.

southwell leaves

Southwell Leaves


Filed under imagination

In Bewley’s Coffee House; a poem for Bloomsday

In Bewley’s

The 16th of June is Bloomsday, the day on which Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses is set. I have never been in Dublin on the day itself but here’s a sonnet remembering my first day in Dublin, in Bewley’s Oriental Coffee house, about to set off on one of the most significant adventures of my life. This poem will appear in the section ‘Local Habitations’ in my new Collection The Singing Bowl which will come out with Canterbury Press this November.

as always you can hear the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button or on the title

In Bewley’s 

I look up, hands around my coffee cup,
On Grafton street in Bewley’s coffee shop,
Blue Mountain, Java and Colombian
The labels are a journey on their own
Then the aroma as they’re ground by hand,
Beans broken open. Out of every land,
Separate savours float across this room
Of dark mahogany, to a softer bloom
Of stained glass windows, where I sit apart
Warming my hands, and waiting on my heart
To call me to adventure. I have found my voice,
Yeats in my pocket, backpack full of Joyce ,
I’m nineteen, it is nineteen seventy-seven
And Dublin is the very gate of heaven.


Filed under literature, Poems