Friday, 27 August 2010


When I wake the rain's falling
and I think, as always, it's for the best,

I remember how much I love rain,
the weakest and strongest of us all;

as I listen to its yesses and no's,
I think how many men and women 

would, if they could,
against all sense and nature,

tax the rain for its privileges;

make it pay for soaking our earth
and splashing all over our leaves;

pay for muddying our grass
and amusing itself with our roots.

Let rain be taxed, they say,
for riding on our rivers
and drenching our sleeves;

for loitering in our lakes
and reservoirs. Make rain pay its way.

Make it pay for lying full length
in the long straight sedate green waters

of our city canals,
and for working its way through processes

of dreamy complexity
until the too-long untaxed rain comes indoors

and touches our lips,
bringing assuagement - for rain comes

to slake all our thirsts, spurting
brusque and thrilling in hot needles,

showering on to anyone naked;
or balming our skins in the shape of scented baths.

Yes, there are many who'd like to tax the rain;
even now they whisper, it can be done, it must be done.

Penelope Shuttle

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


George Vicat Cole
English Painter

To live in Wales is to be conscious
At dusk of the spilled blood
That went to the making of the wild sky,
Dyeing the immaculate rivers 
in all their courses.
It is to be aware,
Above the noisy tractor
And hum of the machine
Of strife in the strung woods,
Vibrant with sped arrows.
You cannot live in the present,
at least, not in Wales,
There is the language, for instance,
The soft consonants
strange to the ear.
There are the cries in the dark at night
As owls answer the moon,
And thick ambush of shadows,
Hushed at the fields' corners.
There s no present in Wales,
And no future;
There is only the past,
brittle with relics,
Wind-bitten towers and castles
With sham ghosts;
Mouldering quarries and mines;
And an impotent people,
Sick with inbreeding,
Worrying the carcase of an old song.

R.S. Thomas

Sunday, 22 August 2010


Once on returning home, purse-proud and hale,
I found my choice possessions on the lawn.
An auctioneer was whipping up a sale.
I did not move to claim what was my own.

"One coat of pride, perhaps a bit threadbare;
Illusion's trinkets, splendid for the young;
Some items, miscellaneous, marked 'Fear';
The chair of honour, with a missing rung."

The spiel ran on, the sale was brief and brisk;
The bargains fell to bidders, one by one.
Hope flushed my cheekbones with a scarlet disk.
Old neighbours nudged each other at the fun.

My spirits rose each time the hammer fell, 
The heart beat faster as the fat words rolled.
I left my home with unencumbered will
And all the rubbish of confusion sold.

Theodore Roethke

Thursday, 19 August 2010


Bhuddist Temple in the Mountains
11th century
Ink on Silk

I have locked the gate on a thousand peaks
To live here with clouds and birds.
All day I watch the hills
As clear winds fill the bamboo door,
A supper of pine flowers,
Monk's robes of chestnut dye -
What dream does the world hold
To lure me from these dark slopes?


translated from the Chinese by Burton Watson

Sunday, 15 August 2010



The good painter:
The artist of the black and red wisdom,
the creator of things with the black water . . . 

this good painter, understanding,
with god in his heart,
holds a dialogue with his own heart.

He knows the colours, he applies them, he shades them.
He draws feet and faces,
traces the shadows, brings his work to perfection.
Like an artist
he paints the colours of all the flowers.

Anonymous Nahuatl Poem
translated from a Spanish version by J.M. Cohen

Tuesday, 10 August 2010


Pierre-August Renoir
"Woman At The Piano"

Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.

D.H. Lawrence

Sunday, 8 August 2010


I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain - and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Robert Frost

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


The Perfect Way is only difficult for those who pick and choose;
Do not like, do not dislike, all will then be clear.
Make a hairbreadth difference, and Heaven and Earth are set apart;
If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.
The struggle between 'for' and 'against' is the mind's worst disease;
While the deep meaning is misunderstood, it is useless to meditate on Rest.
It is blank and featureless as space; it has no 'too little' or 'too much';
Only because we take and reject does it seem to us not to be so.
Do not chase after Entanglements as though they were real things,
Do not try to drive pain away by pretending that it is not real;
Pain, if you seek serenity in Oneness, will vanish of its own accord.
Stop all movement in order to get rest, and rest will itself be restless;
Linger over either extreme, and Oneness is forever lost.
Those who cannot attain to Oneness in either case will fail:
To banish Reality is to sink deeper into the Real;
Allegiance to the Void implies denial of its voidness.
The more you talk about It, the more you think about It, the further from It you go;
Stop talking, stop thinking, and there is nothing you will not understand.
Return to the Root and you will find the Meaning;
Pursue the Light and you will lose its source,
Look inward, and in a flash you will conquer the Apparent and the Void.
For the whirligigs of Apparent and Void all come from mistaken views;
There is no need to seek Truth; only stop having views.

translated from the Chinese by Arthur Whaley