Roseate Terns have returned in good numbers to the Farne Islands; this picture
of one of them was taken a few days ago.


All but blind
In his cambered hole
Gropes for worms
The four-clawed Mole.

All but blind
In the evening sky
The hooded Bat
Twirls softly by.

All but blind
In the burning day
The Barn-Owl blunders
On her way.

And blind as are
These three to me,
So blind to someone
I must be.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you 'grave for me:
Here he lies where he long'd to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

All through the long night
I lay awake and watched
Your stars, as diamonds, enrich
the poverty of my sleeplessness.
I lay awake.
And you devoured my thoughts
and I yours
Until I was within you
Complete; inward and outward.
And I lay awake cushioned by your presence.
And always I was beside you
And always you were with me
And the band of time played
And the hands of time clapped
And the face of time smiled
And the feet of time walked
All through the long night.

All through the dreamless night
I lay awake and listened
And my lonely darkness was pierced
By the brave light of you
even at this loveless distance.
I lay awake
And you consumed me whole
and I you
Until, sated and happy,
There was between us no space
we could not bridge
And our longings were my pillow
And there was always us
With no apartness and no absence
And the tide of time ebbed
And the stream of time flowed
And the eyes of time closed
And the song of time was sung
And the book of time was written
Sweetly and gently
All through the dreamless night.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

There's little in taking or giving,
There's little in water or wine;
This living, this living, this living
Was never a project of mine.
Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is
The gain of the one at the top,
For art is a form of catharsis,
And love is a permanent flop,
And work is the province of cattle,
And rest's for a clam in a shell,
So I'm thinking of throwing the battle-
Would you kindly direct me to hell?

Post comments on this blog or email me:


Sid said...

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp;

Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Thanks Ian, every posting from you is an education.

Ian Robinson said...

This, apparently, is the funniest joke in Belgium...
A patient says: “Doctor, last night I made a Freudian slip, I was having dinner with my mother-in-law and wanted to say: “Could you please pass the butter.” But instead I said: “You silly cow, you have completely ruined my life”.
I could go on...

Ellie said...

and Brussels is where the laws of Europe are decided and decreed! Ah me.......

Hildie said...

Good morning everyone .... and Ian!
Summer Fair at Dipton School today 11a.m. till 1p.m. ..... if any of you are passing!!!
I'm on the
"Pick a Lollipop Stall".....

Be back later. x

Sid said...

Hildie we could have had an AGM there if we had known...

Hildie said...

Ahh, yeah, Sid ... you're right .... I should have shouted up a bit sooner .... you could all have had a cream tea in the school dinner hall and a go on the bouncy castle ...... perhaps not in that order though!
I loved the poetry Ian put on Truckshunters the other day ...
that W. B. Yeats one, "When you are old and Grey", is one of my all-time favourites.

I seem to be stuck on poems about fishes at the moment... here we go:
I love to chase after small fishes
It stops me getting too bored,
And then when I start feeling hungry
I skewer a few on my sword.

The crab likes walking sideways
And I think the reason why,
Is to make himself look quite sneaky
And pretend that he's a spy.

Angel Fish.
Hello, I'm the angel fish, darling
The prettiest thing in the sea,
What a shame there are no other creatures
As gorgeous and lovely as me!

And finally ..... on Thursday I actually saw the gorgeous and lovely Mr. Robinson in the flesh
(so to speak!) .... honestly he is looking spiffing!

J.Arthur Smallpiece said...

Don't read intellectual poems. They'll only make you miserable. Read one of mine instead.


I went to the theatre one
With my lover called Pansy
To see a play written by Shakespeare,
With a hip-flask of rum at my

It was staged by the lads from the
A marvellous troupe, it was
And the lady in front was quite noisy,
With a fairly large hat and fat head.

The set was made up like a
Picked out in the glare of the
And Hamlet appeared in a
And a pair of grotesquely tight tights.

His girlfriend was pouting and gorgeous,
She wore a diaphanous dress
Through which you could glimpse
her white panties,
(However, I mustn't digress).

It had something to do with his
The king had just made her his wife
And I thought straight away,
"How uncanny!
'It really reflects my own life".

For it mirrored my very exsistence.
Of this there was not any doubt,
It was tedious, boring and pointless,
And I've no idea what it's about.

This poem was written with the aid of an Arts' Council grant.

c Dead Poet's Society 11. 07. 09.

Ian Robinson said...

Another classic in the true Nightshift style - although you haven't half made us wait. You posted this at almost the same moment I was drafting post 150. I've added a few lines to it in recognition of your contribution. PLEASE get in touch via truckshunters email address. Glad to know, you're now online, too.