Changed Utterly

Everything can change

In one instant of time

Through someone else’s carelessness

Or mine.

Lifelong loss of sound or sight,

Of only child or dearest friend.

Such losses touch our lives with blight

Like broken promises and dreams.

Heartbreak that will not ever mend –

Irreversible choices made.

Words that can never be unsaid

Have repercussions that barely fade

And colour all our days ahead.

February 2009


Undiscovered Treasure

[written after last day of Counselling Diploma Course]

Purple-leaved lily pond,

There all the time

But only discovered on this, the last day!

How much more has not been found ?

Where are the songs I never sang ?

The summer-cartwheels I never turned ?

Secrets, still unshared ?

So much ……..Too much ?

Always enough …..

But I am greedy still …..

I want a bit more.

I want to play the drums,

I want to sing rock anthems,

I want to hear the jokes ….

All the jokes.

Would have liked to say good bye

To everyone …..

Never mind.


For K on his 20th Birthday

What can I give you, dear one ?

You need not ought that’s mine.

And yet you teach me daily to give more.

I can only give my love to you.

But words will not express

Half of the joy I wish for you –

More words are meaningless.

I would give you laughter and hope for the years ahead,

Music and beauty to show you

Some of what can’t be said.

And O, I would give you truth, my love,

But it is not mine to give.

Instead I will give you freedom

Of body and soul and mind.

Tender thoughts and courage –

My love with no double-bind.

Perhaps I can give you yourself, more free

Than before. So you can give

To the world you love

Just a little bit more

Than if it hadn’t have been for me.

8th May 1968


Nothing Is Enough

Nothing is enough.  After long silence.

Have we seen and understood enough yet ?

The crocuses trampled on to tell us

That a little boy has been hurt –

Another necessary death demanding response.

Have we heard enough of the refectory sounds ?

Day after day, the same re-echoed sounds ?

We have seen so much – too much ?

It crowds in upon our senses,

Distorting perception,

Making the balance between ‘objectivity’ and spontaneity

Almost impossible.

Too much insight can be dangerous.

Words become carefully controlled, measured –

Until the expression of truth

Becomes merely intellectualisation.

Irrationality is necessary too !

And regression is not always weakness,

Nor exaggeration dishonest.

Autumn 1967




Between the world of knowledge

And the problems of the world,

Between the day of indifference

And the detachment of Enlightenment

is the shadowland.

From justification through Art

To a need for atonement for sin.

From the vision of despair

To the affirmation of life

Is not so far

As from inauthentic existence

To any alternative way.

Between the world of the beautiful people

And the ‘cult’ of clinical concern,

Between the powerless intents of pacifism

And the disillusion of diplomats,

Between grievance demanding revenge

And tolerance of fallibility

Is far enough

To keep us talking interminably

Of the alienation of man.

Between the words I vainly say

And their meaning to another,

Between my most significant gesture

And its interpretation,

Between the intensity of my cry of pain

And the futility of its impact

Lies the division of the world.

Resignation is not enough

And stoicism, an escape to another illusion.

To stretch across the brink

Has some meaning.

And death itself is vindicated

If it opens the way for others

To cross the divide.

October 23rd 1967   [ Just after arriving at Keele University]



Towards Freedom

Tell us not once, but often

That we need no further exposition,

Books or cults or emigration.

Tell us again that the shadow cast on the wall –

Is the other side of beauty.

That to touch it brings no danger –

There’s no need to fear the truth.

But we’re slow to claim our freedom.

The dependence on our bonds

Has been nurtured by our loved ones

And projected on our gods.

So, be patient with our questions –

With our need to chrystalise.

Don’t let us vegetate in symptoms,

We will never be content with lies.

For ever, as we dimly see

Our hearts and minds confess

That this is near the truth to which

We can at last, say ‘yes’.

July 1967

Human Fallibility

We expect too much of ourselves.

We expect to find in ourselves

The good that we want to believe is in others…..

And when at times we do not find it there,

We still hope to find it within ourselves.

Most of the time we can justify our motives

Mostly our reasons can sound pretty good.

But there is one time when there is no justification,

The time when we are stripped

Not only of our outward mask of honour

But almost unbearably of our lost image

Of our own integrity.

When we see disillusionment  on

The face of someone who trusted us.

When we finally understand our power to hurt…

And so often it is too late

Or we think it is too late,

Which amounts to the same thing.

The universal fallibility of all

Is a concept hard to accept.

It is hard to forgive in others

But harder in ourselves.

And yet, the realisation of our own weakness

Is the acceptance of it in others.

And surely when we have accepted their failure,

Then perhaps, we can forgive our own.

June 1966


An Experience

It is not that life itself has changed

For I still can see quite clearly

The sad perplexity

On every hand.

And yet there is a new mysterious lightening,

A quickening of spirit that I don’t quite understand.

It is not regeneration which so often comes in Spring,

But a vibrant orchestration in my heart,

In everything.

Not the tenderness of being loved

But the creative energy of loving.

Not the touch of your hand

But the living spark of your soul

As it awakens mine.

Here is an ecstasy hitherto unsung,

A gateway to awareness.

For to know one other soul

Is more important than all

The books of philosophy

Ever written. And to love is to know

A kindredship of spirits

That transcends the futility.

This is the mysterious beauty of human existance.

To this we give our assent and in doing so refuse

The lure of death and open

Our hearts again to life.

Mar. ’64



We did not know that it would be like this

That it would be quite like this……

And Truth is not what we imagined it to be,

Nor is there any joy in being free.

We did not know, for no-one ever told us

(And not many could have told us),

Of the difficulties involved in our deviation

And the utter futility at our destination.

And now we’re tired and sad and disillusioned.

We have seen and there is nothing more to see.

And those who have not seen can never understand

And those who have are powerless to change the fateful hand.

And all around is beauty in the things we used to praise –

And everything is a memory of unforgotten days.

For we never will forget the way that it used to be –

We have found the truth but we are not really free.

We have spoken and there is no more to say –

I suppose it’s possible to live our lives some way.

We’ll never feel again that we belong

Or know if we are really ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

20th August ‘1963 after reading Colin Wilson’s ‘The Outsider’