Poems by David Anthony
A London Flower-Seller
Glimpsed roses at a roadside stall: so bright
a contrast to the city's traffic haze;
rich with the warmth and peace of summer days
and quiet reveries of dark and light;
seen only for a moment and then gone.
Such wistful beauty, such a brave display
stands out against the drabness of the day
in confirmation that our dreams live on.
But, flower-seller, glancing at your face
I see your flowers are only goods to sell
with no innate significance. Ah, well,
what's most familiar seems most commonplace;
and yet I wonder, trapped within life's schemes
and compromises, did you sell your dreams?
To Gerard Manley Hopkins
Your spirit hovered quivering, poised on air
of sense and sound, charged like a lightning rod:
now flashing up to seize the grace of God,
now plunging down in darkness and despair.
Despair! Did wisdom really bring you there,
where tired generations trod and trod,
where feet have lost all feeling, being shod,
where hopelessness hangs heavy everywhere?
Sometimes I wonder, did you understand
without the dark your candle could not glow?
Your soul was tortured by self-reprimand,
self-crucified, self-loathing; yet I know
the God you loved and hated took your hand
at last, and led you safe where no storms blow.
Father of the Man
While lost within the marshes of my mind,
uncertain where the hazy pathways led
and frightened by the darkness up ahead,
I saw my young self coming from behind
and paused and waited, thinking what to say:
we'd broken contact half a life ago
and hadn't much in common; even so
he had youth's confidence and knew the way.
My childhood met me coldly with a frown
and I fell silent, angered, filled with such
resentment that this parent asked so much,
mixed with regret for having let him down.
So burdened by the weight of wasted days
we drew apart and went our different ways.
The capstan groaned and sails flashed out unfurled,
then filled; I keyed a course--h t t p:--
and started out across a cyber sea
in search of fellow feeling in the world.
I navigated oceans that were pearled
with scattered islands of affinity
whose harbours sometimes seemed like home to me,
safe havens when the gales of discord swirled.
Seafarers slightly known and swiftly gone:
what were their hopes? What kind of dreams had they?
Those strangers, warming in the light that shone
from empathy, had never meant to stay:
minds met a moment, touched, and travelled on
to look for something lost and far away.
I, when young,
meant to change the world.
Now I see
that the world has changed
from my point of view.
Biographical sketch: I am a middle-aged businessman,
working in London and living in
Stoke Poges, adjacent to the churchyard where Gray wrote his Elegy.
David Anthony recommends:
Gerard Manley Hopkins; Edna St Vincent Millay
Recommendations for writers:
Revise, revise, revise.