For the first time in my life I am despairing. Our worst fears realised: sickness, hatred, strife, corruption Spreading through the land; our leaders gross, vile, uncaring As we’re heading, deep in denial, for destruction.
When I was younger, stronger, I might have resisted. But I no longer have the will to fight; defeated By depths of greed and lies I never knew existed. And deed by wicked deed the coup’s completed.
So to the wood, the field. In their quiet rehearsing Of good, timeless tales, truth is revealed; no agenda. I regain my voice and strength. The dark is dispersing. My choice is stark but clear. I will not surrender.
The Celtic droighneach is probably the most challenging form I’ve encountered; although it looks simple enough, to my mind only the sestina comes close in terms of metrical constraints and complexity. It’s so taxing I can manage only about one a year, but it’s always fun to do (in hindsight, and following a stiff drink and a lie down in a darkened room). N.
Me: So. What makes a good and worthy life? My best friend just looks at me With fond, pitying eyes that plainly say What kind of question is that? Please. I need to know. OK. First, eat. Anything and everything put before you. Plus whatever you can find. You may surprise yourself. Then sleep. Dream. Find the warm spots. Let others envy your repose, so instant and complete. Yet always be ready to respond. There is promise in every sound and movement. You just never know. Ignore the stick, the ball, the bird: Mere distractions, unworthy of your speed and skill. Not so the cat, the rabbit: Always engage with your true work. For you will have your day. And those I meet? Some will reach out, some recoil. Learn when to press for friendship, and when to walk away. What are my watchwords? Loyalty without subservience. Courage without recklessness. Fierceness without savagery. To sum up, then… Live enormously. Love immoderately. Serve unfailingly. Be adored, remarkable, irreplaceable. And is that enough? I ask. My best friend’s eyes are laughing now. You tell me.
Their greatest fans, of which I’m one, would readily concede that whippets aren’t the brightest dogs in the world – they’re born to run, not to think – but like all canines, they know a thing or two about living. Even an example as irredeemably obtuse as our beloved Viggo is consistently in tune with what’s truly important in a way I never seem able to maintain. How I envy his simple outlook, uncomplicated moral code and serene, untroubled mind, especially in times like these. N.
All voices mute. All books closed. And so I took myself into the hills Wandered among the woods and fields To tap the wisdom of the world.
Seek my silence, said the land. Breathe my air. Watch the shadows cross my face, the trees bend with the wind. Understand my deeper workings But never let your knowledge close the door on wonder.
Follow the roll of stars and seasons, The great wheel turning in the earth. Plough, sow and harvest; but guard the goodness in you. The sin is not in lying fallow, but working gifted ground to dust.
Feel my bones beneath your feet. Be that bulwark for those you love. And as time and fortune wear and shape you Be shot through with truths as hard as flints That strike sparks, blunt blades, outlast events and weather.
A sin to stop
Just six miles short of home
And sit on a slab of weathered wood
In the sun and set
A few words down on paper;
But what’s another moment stolen
From a day already plundered;
My conscience is as a clear
As the blackbird’s song
In the cherry tree
And the June sky I’d have missed
If I’d taken the other road.