J A M E S   H A R P U R          
wz                 wz

An interview with James Harpur for Poetry Ireland Review 105, Winter, 2011/12

PIR: James, can you give me an idea of your parentage, and your residences and
travels before you came to settle in Ireland.

My dad, Brian, was born in Timahoe, Co Laois, a small village that has a
beautiful round tower tucked away by the church, like a medieval space
rocket. Nearby is Stradbally, of Electric Picnic fame, but no sort of picnic
in 1918 when my dad was born. He was the son of a Church of Ireland
rector, one of a long line of Harpur divines in Ireland. I inherited the
sensibility but not the calling. People often ask me about the origin of
‘Harpur’ with a ‘u’, and it’s Norman-French and means a harp player. The
first Harpurs arrived in Ireland in the late 1100s on Strongbow’s coattails
– there is a Simon le Harpur, Thomas le Harpur and Philippus le Harpur
recorded in the Dublin Merchants’ Guild Roll for this period. I like to
imagine Simon tucked into a Bayeux-tapestry-style longboat, wild locks
streaming in the salty air of the Irish Sea, his harp protected by animal
skins and singing lustily as he makes his way towards his new life. At a
more mundane level, over the course of time one branch of the family
became Protestant, while others, particularly in Wexford, remained
   After my grandfather, Thomas, died, my dad and the rest of the family
moved to Mount Merrion Avenue in Blackrock, Co Dublin. He boarded
at Portora in Enniskillen – missing Beckett by a few years – and then
emigrated to London in about 1938, only to be caught up in the Second
World War. Before he set off to fight in Italy, he met and got engaged to
my mum, Alicia. She herself, part Scottish, part English, had grown up in
Paris, in a little suburb named Le Vésinet (where I recently discovered
Joyce’s daughter Lucia spent some time in a mental asylum). My parents
married after the war and honeymooned in Kerry, at Waterville. I have
letters written by my mum on her honeymoon, and her joy is all the
more poignant for the fact that she and my dad later divorced. She
always maintained the war changed my father profoundly and that she
had effectively married a stranger. They settled near London, where I
grew up. I found my dad frustratingly difficult to be intimate with. Only
through watching rugby together did we commune, especially during his
last, protracted illness.
   Location and identity have always been concerns of mine. My mum’s
family lost touch with their Parisian background, and my dad’s family
were well dispersed too. Annual holidays to Co Laois provided a glimpse
not only of another world but also a tantalising sense of what it might be
like to actually belong to a place. I got a similar whiff of this after leaving
college when I lived on Crete for a year. Mountains, vineyards, Minoans,
raki, lyra music – it was all intoxicating. I learned some modern Greek
and got interested in the likes of Seferis and Kazantzakis. The latter’s
gravestone inscription in Heracleion continues to haunt me: ‘I hope for
nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.’ There came a point when I wondered
whether I would ever return from Crete. I did, but that sunlit year still
burned strongly as I paid my dues in the grey tones of London’s flatland.
I started work as a lexicographer and remember spending two days
trying to define ‘in’. When we finished ‘Z’ we all got laid off. Such is the
built-in employment flaw of ‘harmless drudgery’.
   After my parents died in the Nineties, I was effectively rootless. There
followed a spell of green fields and kamikaze narrow lanes in Devon,
then I and my partner, a Dubliner, decided to live in Ireland. It was a kind
of a homecoming for both of us, in different ways. We spent a year in Co
Roscommon, enjoying the people, hills and lakes (and rain!), but wanted
to be closer to a city. We ended up in West Cork near Clonakilty, where
my partner’s ancestors come from. With the birth of our daughter, Cork
now seems like home.

PIR: Can you outline your reasons for starting to write poetry, if you can recall
them, and your first incursions into the art?

I had little interest in writing until my early twenties. I wasn’t one of
those writers who began scribbling from an early age. Looking back at
my childhood diaries I chuckle at their feebleness. Week after week I
would write, ‘West Ham 1 Everton 0, West Ham 0 Liverpool 2’ etc., and
‘Watched The Man From Uncle’. I came to poetry only at university. I
suddenly obeyed a subterranean urge and decided that poetry was a
noble pursuit and a means of exploring ultimate spiritual questions (by
which I mean, is there a God, is there a point to life, is there life after
death, and so on), which had always been a central driving force in my
life – possibly all those rectors in my DNA. Poetry felt like a mission, the
means by which I was going to penetrate the eschatology of life, or at
least come to terms with my own relationship with the great themes of
existence. In that sense writing for me was, and is, a sacred activity,
almost like meditation and prayer. I was drawn to mythopoeic poets like
Homer, Virgil, Dante, Yeats, Eliot and Hughes and I liked the traditional
idea of the muse as a supra-conscious guide, with the implication that
poetry is more akin to waiting and receiving than something willed and
   In practical terms, I got to poetry from trying to write plays at
college. I had two short one-act plays performed, and it struck me how
much can go wrong with playwriting. Even if the writing doesn’t sink
you, then the set designer, the director, the actors, the sound technician –
all are accidents waiting to happen. I remember once watching a
performance of Medea and the spotlight suddenly coming on in the darkness
and illuminating our heroine’s knee-caps instead of her face, and all
the suppressed titters. Poetry cuts out the middlemen to a greater extent.
Not always. I once had a crucial phrase, ‘sails of the Northmen’, rendered
as ‘snails of the Northmen’ in a respectable journal – the typesetter was
clearly Salvador Dalí.
  More importantly, I came to realise my temperament and imagination
were best suited to poetry – the verbal concentration, the emphasis on
musicality, the intense relationship between content and form. But the
change from playwriting to poetry effectively happened through a college
poetry competition, for which I wrote my first ever poem – about St
Patrick unsuccessfully trying to get rid of the snakes in Ireland. It had a
sort of psycho-spiritual theme which I’ve been lumbered with ever since
– one of my most recent poems has been about St Finbarr trying to exorcise
the serpent of Gougane Barra, again unsuccessfully. The St Patrick
poem was a fateful poem. It won a small prize, and that was encouragement
enough to make me believe that poetry would be my means of investigating
the mysteries. My time on Crete was spent writing poetry. On my return
I entered the labyrinth of the poetry world, with its myriad moments of
encouragement and false turns, and with probably only the Minotaur to
look forward to at the end.

PIR: You were influenced, in your early years, by the work of C G Jung; and
your poetry is scaffolded a good deal on myth, and the relationship of your life,
and humanity in general, to myths. Can you expand on this?

Before going to college I read Jung’s Memories, Dreams and Reflections, and
it was like smelling cordite. I could see why the likes of Joyce, Beckett
and Hesse were so struck by him. I don’t think the book is read much
now, but in the mid-70s it was part and parcel of the fading incense of
the hippy culture – of mind expansion, Carlos Castaneda, et al. I had
always been fascinated by myth, possibly as a result of studying Classics –
the Odyssey, the Aeneid – for a while, and Jung was persuasive in saying
that myths weren’t just attractive stories but foundation narratives of the
human psyche, emblematic tales that revealed the deepest stratum of
our minds. Furthermore, his notion of a collective unconscious and
archetypes, such as the shadow, anima and trickster, made intuitive sense
to me. Jung also substantiated my sense of there being two realities, in
the Platonic sense – that of the everyday world, and that of the great
terra incognita beyond our egos, the classical underworld, Yeats’s anima
, Plato’s universe of Forms, Blake’s world of Imagination, and so
on. By this token, poems are merely drips leaking from the universal
aquarium of dreams and myths.
   I have changed a lot from my early college days and fascination with
Jung, and I have new perspectives on the issues he guided me on; but he
was someone who first drew back the black-out curtains of windows
that looked out onto a vast glittering universe.

PIR: Many of your poems are concerned with Christian themes and characters,
such as early Irish saints and the Syrian pillar hermit Symeon Stylites, what is
your relationship with Christianity and its mythic aspect?

My relationship with religion, Christianity and the church is complex. I
think of myself as a born-again agnostic, or a proactive spiritual seeker. I
am attracted to mystics of all religious cultures, from Meister Eckhart to
Rumi to Kabir, and the most profound and radical spiritual teacher of
modern times I have come across is J Krishnamurti. I’m deeply wary of
institutional religious structures and hierarchies and cherish Blake’s
comment that a pub would be a better venue for worship than a church.
The religious spirit is like a flame that erupts, and if you box it in you
deprive it of oxygen. I do believe, though, every poet has to come to terms
with Christianity in some way. Like it or not, Christianity has shaped our
western culture – it’s in our thought, books, buildings, paintings, music,
languages, in the air we breathe. Being an atheist or Buddhist or whatever
is fine, but do we not remain in the west, nevertheless, Christian atheists
and Christian Buddhists?
   With regard to my own poetry I am fascinated by the story of Jesus
and also the interaction between the early medieval church and the pagan
religion(s) it usurped or absorbed, and maybe that struggle embodies a
deeper one between spirit and nature – saints and snakes? I have studied
parts of the Bible in an enthusiastic but amateur way over a number of
years, including a short stint of learning Hebrew. I have learned a lot
from the Bible – not just the wisdom and the language, as in Psalm 139 or
the Song of Songs, but the poetic thought, imagery and sense of dramatic
narrative; for example I love the story about King Nebuchadnezzar,
who had three Jews thrown into a fiery furnace (‘seven times hotter than
usual’), and who then reeled back in shock when he looked into the inferno
and saw four figures in the flames, the fourth one being a saving angel.
   The Bible stories have a purity and simplicity that work on the
imagination like yeast in bread, and that process of mysterious imaginative
expansion might be a parable of the kingdom of heaven itself. I am still
amazed by what a strange story emerges in the New Testament. I have
no doubt Jesus existed, but what actually happened during his brief
flurry of missionary activity remains mysterious to me. To get a better fix
on Jesus, I once tried to enter into an imaginative engagement with his
person in a book I wrote about Joseph of Arimathea. The premise was
that after the crucifixion, Joseph seeks out and interviews people who
knew Jesus. Each person gives a different glimpse of Jesus, and Joseph
tries to make sense of it all, or not. It was my small attempt to make
three dimensions from an infinity of facets.
   Our Christian heritage has its own layers of myth – akin to the great
branching mythic systems of Greek, Norse and other cultures – not least
in the stories of the lives of saints. The early medieval, or ‘Dark Age’,
matters of vision, miracle, folklore, dream and the impossible is also, I
think, the very stuff of poetry – as found in the tales of Virgil, Dante and
Homer, who would have loved hearing about Brendan landing on
magical islands and smashing through the Atlantic waves like a celibate
   The pious tales of the saints, like poetry, promote the idea that life is
infinitely stranger and richer than any of us can imagine, and that living
creatively needs an open heart and open mind, if only to avoid the
‘reptiles of the mind’ that Blake suggested a narrow, stagnant mentality
breeds. The saints reflect the spectrum of humanity, from gentle thinkers
to crazy fanatics. I have a tremendous affection for Symeon Stylites, who
lived on top of a column for thirty years in the middle of the Syrian
desert. He felt this passionate need to get away from the earth, from people,
and climb closer to God, yet the higher he got, the more the crowds
came to see him – his sixty-foot pillar in the end became the centre of a
permanent Woodstock festival. Like writers, he needed isolation,
solitude, space, and yet finally he could not live without humanity, and
he had to discover his own humanity. His life is a beautiful, and terrible,
parable of the via negativa. His legacy is the base of his original pillar,
which can still be seen twenty miles north of Aleppo, and a myth that
has distant echoes of story of the tower of Babel.

PIR: There is an attempt at imagining the historical Jesus, if I may so put it, in
your Gospel of Joseph of Arimathea which intrigues me; I am also intrigued
that you refer in the acknowledgments to ‘my old Divinity teachers’ and that
much of the book was conceived during a residency at Exeter Cathedral. What
did such a residency entail? What did your study of Divinity entail? And is the
story-telling in Joseph of Arimathea also a method of distancing the self ? Are
we, as your Joseph puts it, ‘always circling truth but never getting nearer, like an
ox around a millstone’?

As mentioned, I have always been fascinated by questions about ultimate
truth and at school I chose to do what was called Divinity alongside
Greek and Latin. It meant studying various epistles of St Paul and two
Gospels, Mark and Luke, as well as a chunk of church history and some
theology. At the time it seemed a rarefied world, days spent reading the
classical Greek of Sophocles’s Antigone then switching to the demotic
Greek of the New Testament before going on to Virgil’s Aeneid. I wanted
to do English Literature as well, but that came later at university. It pains
me deeply that schools by and large have no place for Greek and Latin.
After all, our civilisation is based on them.
   The residency at Exeter Cathedral involved getting local writers to
respond to the cathedral and all its antique quirks. These included an
array of pagan ‘green man’ carvings; a medieval cat-flap; Tudor graffiti
on a tomb; a room once used by the resident ‘dog-whipper’ (a man
whose job was to beat away stray dogs from the cathedral’s interior); and
the Anglo-Saxon Exeter Book, which contains almost a hundred of the
finest poetic riddles ever written. Through a series of workshops and
surgeries I came into contact with about sixty local writers, who included
a Spanish journalist, two priests, and a scary nightclub bouncer who, to
my horror, would read his explicit erotic poems to me far too loudly in
the hushed confines of the Vestry.
   The residency gave me time to draft most of my Joseph of Arimathea
sequence. For me the characters in the book, who range from Martha
and Mary to Peter and Judas, are like different aspects of a single self. I
like to think they do not so much create a distance between Jesus and the
self as enable the self to make intimate contact through different
approaches, as if the self were sending out undercover agents to encounter
Jesus unexpectedly, as it were, with his defences down. I felt that a more
direct approach would be too naked, too exposed, too blinded by the
obliterating light of revelation. Imagination, I think, can use indirect
means to enter into a direct relationship with its object. To stare at the
sun would blind you; what you need is something more roundabout,
such as a pin-hole lens. Also, I was interested in the humanity of Jesus,
not so much the effulgent cosmic Christ. I wanted to get to know him,
his dark moods, his despair, his wittiness, his joy; and I wanted to feel
how ordinary people reacted to him, like Nicodemus, the desperate
Pharisee who met Jesus in secrecy at night, or blind Bartimaeus, who, in
my story, loses the faith he gained, and regains the blindness he lost. The
book roughly follow the sequence of the gospels, constructing a parallel
interior narrative and building to the ghastly climax of crucifixion and
the aftermath of light. In the last poem in the book, Joseph reflects on his
quest and his final obligation to the crucified Jesus; it’s a poem that links
up with Joseph’s prologue and in which is buried a supposition that in
medieval times would have led to a good old corrective burning.

PIR: In Fortune’s Prisoner, your translation of the poems of Boethius taken from
his Consolation of Philosophy, you suggest he had the mind of a philosopher,
the heart of a Romantic, the soul of a Platonist – like yourself, James?

Well, I wouldn’t mind having Keats’s heart, Blake’s soul and Nietzsche’s
mind but probably not all together – the cost of medication would be horrendous!
I think Boethius did have all three – he was one of the greatest
figures of his age, as happy running the affairs of Rome as he was
translating Plato into Latin or constructing a water-clock. What I like
about him, and what drew me to his poems, was his attempt to fathom
the workings of fate, fortune and providence. And he wrote about all of
this on death row – he had been banged up for treason by Theoderic, the
paranoid Ostrogothic king of Italy – knowing that his execution could
happen any moment. I’ve always liked the idea that we are guided to
meet the right people in life and that seemingly random events can turn
out to have a profound meaning in a way that suggests they were, in
hindsight, part of our destiny. Boethius touches on these areas and also
talks about a way of coping with the ever-turning, fickle Wheel of
Fortune – useful knowledge for anyone, especially those engaged in the
poetry world.

PIR: Do you share the notion of a search for transcendence through images of
order and harmony? And do you think such a seeking emerges in the classical
forms you prefer?

I’m tempted to reply, ‘yes’ and ‘yes’ and run for cover. However … I do
feel my poems are reflections or bulletins of a personal search for
transcendence, or possibly something more like ‘enlightenment’ – by which
I don’t mean a messianic healer-prophet scenario but perhaps something
more … gentle or Buddhist-like, i.e. the ending of desire resulting in a
sense of unshakeable serenity. The cruel paradox is that the struggle
towards enlightenment is self-defeating because in the process of
struggle you are strengthening the ego, which is the very barrier. Also,
the drive for enlightenment can shed all vestiges of humanity, as with
Symeon Stylites. The German mystic Henry Suso used to wear a tailor-made
vest studded with a hundred and fifty brass nails. I’m far too
sensuous, and chicken, to take Suso’s penitential route to heaven, and I
think any approach to the transcendent has to take account of the world,
the earth, the body, what Christians would crystallise as the Incarnation.
   So, poetically, I am sensible of balancing this upward surge of the spirit
with the downward grounding of the body. Promptings of my Muse are
often channelled through historical characters, from a Delphic priest and
the god Odin in Oracle Bones to Gobnait of Ballyvourney and Kieran of
Saighir in The Dark Age, and mostly they articulate the tension between
sky and earth, spirit and soul, grace and gravity. And most of them are
afflicted with a deep sadness, not least the monk in ‘The Monastic Star-
Timetable’, who gazes at the star patterns and feels nothing but a sense
of separation from the fons et origo. As for the shape my poems take, I do
stray towards a certain formality. This might, as your question implies,
reflect the need to create balance and harmony in a world of chaotic
imagination, perhaps akin to putting a frame around a picture or
ordering music into movements. I do like poems where lines are like the
strings of a harp, held by an elegant frame, taut and graceful, ringing
true by themselves, and consonant with the music of the others.

PIR: In your latest book The Dark Age is there generally a movement from
darkness to light, from foolishness to truth, and from suffering to new
knowledge? The sense of order here is underlined by the music of your language,
the rhymes, the slow rhythms; the people who speak out of ‘The Dark Age’ are in
fact the most enlightened people; so is a good deal of the title subsumed in irony?

The ‘dark’ in the title has a number of echoes for me. It does refer to the
so-called Dark Age of medieval history when the legacy of imperial
Rome was crumbling and the survival of knowledge depended on the
individual efforts of monks, blinding themselves in the task of copying
manuscripts; when there was a collision of spiritual cultures, with an
increasingly authoritarian church eliminating or absorbing native pagan
cultures – perhaps there’s something in reverse happening at the
moment, a sort of enantiodromia. But as my epigraphs to the book
suggest, there is also a darkness that one anonymous Christian mystic
called ‘the cloud of unknowing’, a sort of barrier of ignorance in the
way of reaching God. Spiritual seekers cannot avoid this ‘cloud’ and have
to ride it out to progress farther. At the same time, another mysterious
Christian mystic known as Dionysius the Areopagite talked about a darkness
that was beyond the light – a sort of enlightenment so ultimate that
the conventional metaphor of light was less adequate than the image of
‘darkness’. So my book carries suggestions of these different types of
darkness, of existential pilgrims trying to come to terms with their
spiritual progress, receiving scintillas of revelation through the gloom,
but often being beaten back into a wistful longing for the unobtainable.

PIR: Can you speak of Love Burning in the Soul, your book on the Christian
mystics: how all of this work leads in the one, defined, direction, from St Paul to
Thomas Merton: and these two, in particular, were activists in the work of the
faith; there is an applied mysticism, a working for truth and justice. Would this
be a conscious emphasis in your studies? And please speak of Kathleen Raine,

her work with the Temenos Academy, how you came to get involved with the
Temenos journal?

Love Burning in the Soul is a brief survey of how the spiritual instinct has
manifested itself in the Christian mystical tradition over two thousand
years, including in poets such as Blake and Wordsworth. What interested
me was really how historical circumstances have shaped the currents of
mysticism and also how it has varied down the ages. You might think a
divine revelation would be pretty much the same over the centuries, but
you have the surreal, imagistic revelations of Hildegard of Bingen in contrast
to the pure, image-less light mysticism of the Greek monk Symeon
the New Theologian and the warm, immanent mysticism of Francis of
Assisi, and so on.
   I was also curious to find out what the Reformation did to mystics
and whether Catholic and Protestant mystics had different experiences.
And I wanted to know what happened to the mystics during the so-called
Age of Enlightenment, when an Anglican bishop could say to John
Wesley that ‘pretending’ to extraordinary revelations was ‘a horrid thing;
a very horrid thing!’. Certainly in 18th-century England the mystical
impulse shifted from the inimical established church and tried to find its
way into the poets – poets who struggled to keep their bearings in a sea
of reasonableness. Smart fell by the wayside, raving quietly into the
night; Blake just about grounded his spiritual influx through the
earthiness of his engraving work and the support of his wife, while
Coleridge fought for control but fell into the chasm of his own
hyperactivity and with the whole dead-weight of the Church of England
chained around his neck. Wordsworth channelled his spirituality into
nature – the now much-derided ‘Daffodils’ is a wonderful neo-Platonic
vision of natural revelation – but later fell into the safe haven of plodding
    Poetry and spirituality, my twin loves, coalesced in the work of the
Temenos Academy, an organisation founded by Kathleen Raine and others.
Raine was a legendary character with deep, sometimes controversial,
convictions about the nature of art. Crudely speaking, she believed the
spiritual side of art was getting lost in our scientific, secular age and
wanted to honour the tradition that embraced Dante, Goethe, Yeats, Eliot
and all the others who had quested in search of spiritual truth. Temenos
organises lectures and readings and publishes an annual Review, of which
I’ve been the poetry editor for a few years. The general editor is John
Carey, who teaches Early Irish at UCC, and it mainly publishes scholarly
essays on anything spiritual, ranging from Islamic architecture to the
Upanishads. I remember giving a poetry reading at Temenos with the
American poet John Haines. I was thrilled that Kathleen Raine, then in
her early nineties, had come to the reading. She sat in the front row, right
in front of me, a few feet away. I felt a bit nervous as this grande dame of
literature stared me in the face, but less so when, after less than a minute,
she had closed her eyes and fallen into a deep and peaceful sleep!

PIR: And finally, the new collection. Will you choose three of the central poems
of this work for Poetry Ireland Review, and tell me how they may serve as
guides to the collection.

I’d be delighted to. Angels and Harvesters has two parts. In the first, there
are personal poems that deal with death, alienation and reconcilation,
including poems about the ghost of a soldier in a West Cork graveyard, a
crow flying out of a wood-burning stove, an off-key pilgrimage to
Gougane Barra and an unexpected ‘leper’s squint’ in a Limerick church.
Part Two moves to a more etherial dimension with lyrics about spiritual
seekers and their lives and travails, such as the imprisonment of St John
of the Cross and the burning of Marguerite Porete in 1310, as well as
heightened states of being, such as a witness’s account of angels
appearing and moving among harvesters. The three poems that follow,
‘Christmas Snow’, ‘The Shadow’ and ‘The Falcon Carol’ reflect aspects of
these various concerns.

Christmas Snow
Never came that year, and yet
It came in other ways, remembering the Light;
As suds frothing in the Garavogue
Around bridge arches, a scuttled trolley;

It fell from lamps in Henry Street
Illuminating tracer-lines of rain
And shoppers gripping rods of sleek umbrellas
As if playing giant straining fish;

It flickered as three candles in a window
In the round tower of Timahoe
But only some could see the eyes of flames
Protecting sleepers in the graveyard.

It fell as stars beyond the Sugar Loaf
Lit up as cats’ eyes by the gaze
Of a farmer standing by a gate
Above the mercury lanes of Wicklow.

And when the sun emerged from night
Snow came as seagulls spiralling up
Like bonfire ash behind a tractor chugging
Through slantwise fields near Baltimore.

It came as shoals of clouds held still
In the reflecting depths of Bantry Bay
And as three harbour swans
Turning their backs on the Atlantic;

And as sheets and pillowcases hung on lines
In Waterville and Elfin
By women biting clothes pegs, dreaming
Of visitors arriving from the east.

And it was found as ironed table-cloths
And icing knifed on marzipan
In kitchens dimming into evening
In Desert Serges and Kilbree.

It gleamed as circles of the host
For worshippers in churches lit at midnight
Amid cities ablaze like fairgrounds
Or villages as dark as silhouettes;

And it appeared in moon-insinuated waves
Unrolling across Long Strand
Rearing up like angels made of spray,
Roaring the word in tumbling syllables

Then sucking in their breath to whisper
It’s christmas, christmas, christmas ...


The Shadow
Would lope behind him up the mountains
Whistling a tune or resting, hands on hips,
And stroll with him through fields of waist-high wheat
Listening to his distracted murmurings;
It sat beside him on the rain-drenched boat
That reared up, whale-like, on the lake, and sang
A song of comfort only he could hear;
He could not see it in the starlit garden
But it was kneeling there, with palms raised up.
When he was executed on the hill
It merged into the shadow of the tree
The stormlight cast across the face of earth,
Waiting until the spirit left his body;
And in the silence of the place of tombs
When he shone like a thousand burning candles
It had already gone back home
To join the dark beyond the light, to wait
For him, its earthly shadow, to return.

The Falcon Carol
The falcon flew from dark to dark
Drew silver from the Northern Star
And headed for the crinkled hills,
The rivers, lakes and waterfalls
To find the source of light on earth
The source of light on earth.

And as three weary pilgrim kings
Looked up and saw his glittering wings
The falcon saw a darkened town
A stable glowing like a crown
And knew that he had found the truth
That he had found the truth.

The falcon hovered like a star
His wings spun out a spirit fire
That drew the kings inside the shed:
The child asleep in his straw bed
Was dreaming of a silver bird
Was dreaming of a bird.

His task now done, the falcon rose
A spark ablaze with joyful news;
He lit the stars, he lit the moon
Then vanished in the arc of sun
That dawned beyond the Southern Cross
Beyond the Southern Cross.




Home       Books       Poems     Contact