Dark & Light

Dark within darkness, cloud within a cloud,
when every way is hidden and comfort is a shroud,
when shadows deepen blackly
in the byways of the night
and thoughts flow slow and thickly
and truth hides out of sight.

As sun can blind the eyes with a burst of umbral pain;
a central spot so dark and an image that remains
blotting earth and sky – all loss, and nothing gain.

Darkest in the cloud within the darkest cloud
where shadows deepen blackly
when thoughts flow slow and sickly
and every way is hidden and comfort is a shroud
in the byways of the night when truth is out of sight.

I see you in the shadow by the love you cannot see
by the tears of love and grief that nailed me to the tree.
What blinds you to me?

See the glad giver who gave so much for love,
who, for all Man, died at your hand
that you might see and understand.

See and understand, believe I am.
I so loved the world that all that I have done
is so you may believe that you and I are one.

Dark with excess of light, my love,
as by a naked sun,
then know that I am here, my love;
and in my darkest hour, my love,
my glad gift lit my heart, my love
and eased my pain.
I saw you by that light, and all my loss was gain

And though you cannot see I hold you in my sight,
your darkest hour and mine both glow in one bright light.

Sea Waves

How shall we describe the world?
With what shall we compare it?

The world is like a sea
over which the wind blows.
Its ripples chase the wind and one another,
‘I am a standing wave!’
‘I am a running wave!’
‘This sparkling expanse is our world!’

None know of the depth beneath,
and little of the wind above,
or unbounded space and time
where other waveforms speed.
All fear the shore where they will die.

They are each a focus of the whole:
the depth below, the wind above,
the sea, the shore, the great beyond;
that symphony in which their echoes carry,
which makes the world ring,
where their souls sing
in harmony.

Depth

You say I think too deeply while the sun is on the sand
and sparkles in the shallows and spreads across the land,
and little fish come darting and nibble at our toes.

You say I think too deeply, but here out in the bay
the sea shelves blue and deeper, and larger fishes play,
and sun comes thin and slanting, and darkens as it goes.

How can I think too deeply when all around is deep?
and echoes as though Heaven is waking after sleep;
or like the night-bird, chanting to incarnadine the rose.

Are the stars still shining faintly in these shadowed ocean deeps,
where the sea as dark as wine has been given for a sign
of the deep that calls to deep in the human and Divine?

Does the wave-sound filtered finely from the sunlight and the foam
carry echoes touched with starlight and a distant call of home?
Though clouded with a doubt is there yet an Avalon
that calls across the waters and forever draws me on?

Are the sunlight in the shallows,
.      and the sand between our toes,
.and the sunlight faintly filtered
.       that darkens as it goes,
and the chanting nightingale
.       with the rose thorn at his breast
at one with all who labour that shall be given rest?

There is a tale that once all roses were white until, one night, a nightingale fell in love with a rose and, singing his love but getting no response, sang ever more sweetly, closer and closer, until, pressing his heart against her stem, he died upon a thorn, staining her with his own spilled blood; since when, all roses of love have been red.

 

Our World

What is our world made of?

Hills and mountains, rivers and seas.

What are the seas made of?
Water and waves, salt and sand;
sand that goes between your toes,
salt that gets in your mouth and nose,
waves that wash on the beach and rocks,
water that gets in your shoes and socks.

What is the water made of?
Rain and rivers that run to the sea
for fishes to swim in like you and me,
for crabs that creep and gulls that cry
and creatures that never see the sky.

But still I wonder, now and again,
the water that comes in the rivers and rain,
that runs in the gutter and down the drain,
that splashes in brooks with a tinkling refrain,
and flows to the sea in the sunshine again –
what is it made of?

Tiny atoms too small to see
build all the world and all the sea.
They make the clouds that float in the sky,
and little children that wonder why.

Show me the atoms I cannot see.
What are they made from?
Where can they be?

Sticks and stones may break your bones,
bricks and beams may build your dreams,
but words, words…
Can one Word build a uni-verse?
a uni-world from a uni-Word?

Show me the atoms I cannot see,
Of what are they made?
Where can they be?
The sea is made of waves.
The waves are made of sea.

And the particles, the particles,
the tiny, tiny particles,
are each the focus of a wave
wider than the widest sea
that stretches through all infinity
and shimmering, makes you and me
and all we feel and all we see:
a universal harmony.

Hazelnut Forest revisited

In March I wrote a puzzle poem Hazelnut Forest, its title an equation,
λ = 2πħ/p
so here is, as I said would be, the promised explanation.

The forest is the universe when the Word made all things new,
and the Spirit found the first conditions good and proving true.
Its leaves, the smallest particles of which the world is made,
the calling birds swift flying in the dappled light and shade,
are photons that were called to be when light was first displayed.

Its title is a formula,
a particle’s waveform,
for everything is energy,
and particles just seem to be
the focus of a mystery,
the fine eye of the storm.

Another poem followed that wondered at the size
of the forest (or the world) as seen by wiser eyes.

How small the forest? We really cannot see.
We cannot give position, speed, time or volition;
to what is all around us, a truly strange admission.
As size get small and smaller, in the atoms heart and less,
in proton, quark or photon, and spacetime’s emptiness,
there is a finite limit bound in uncertainty.
How small is the forest? It’s just too small to see,
for in that finite limit is all infinity.

Men like Werner Heisenberg,
Max Planck and de Broglie,
worked out the math, and many more
have worked at detail and for sure,
where you and I give up and snore,
they plucked cherries from the tree.

A Circle With a Volume, I recall,
the last and strangest poem of them all,
came from Planck’s discovery
that length, like time, just cannot be reduced
infinitesimally small.
No matter what dimensions that we tell,
the smallest there can be, that we call Planck’s Length, L,
gives structure to the rest. There is no spell
that lets us cut fine finer till there’s nothing there at all.

The smallest, fundamental space,
the smallest, fundamental time,
are bound with that uncertainty
that binds the forest leaves.

Centre to edge is less than width,
the wheel’s centre to its rim,
your nose to your ear,
less than the wheel’s width,
less than ear to ear.

But the width of a fundamental
is the smallest distance possible .
Where can its centre be?
How far from its edge?

W. B. Yeats’ troubled poem The Second Coming that I quoted in this poem sums the uncertainty and the resulting fragility astonishingly aptly:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

From the inbuilt uncertainty of this fundamental seed, spacetime burst in an instant, followed by an immense expansion phase.
From fundamental to universal in microseconds.

This volume, this conundrum,
too veiled for us to see,
a mystery its diameter,
its radius an enigma,
the Sybil of Cumae,
time in eternity.

Ah! The Sybil of Cumae! Who was she?
Tis said she asked Apollo, who wanted her to wife,
that she might have, though mortal, as many years of life
as the grains of sand held in her hand.

False promises were made and when her wish was gained
her favours were withdrawn – Apollo raged.
Trapped through the years, her body aged;
kept shrinking in a jar ’til just her voice remained.

And why a hazelnut forest? In the mid-fourteenth century, following a vision, Dame Julian of Norwich compared all creation to a hazelnut held in God’s hand.
Such a tiny thing, encompassing all creation, shown her by God in a series of visions in which she saw the depth and greatness of His love for all mankind.

The Self Creating Prayer

There is a moment
when egg and sperm become a fertilised cell.
Another before fission,
before one cell becomes two.

Another before the embryo becomes a foetus,
Before the first heartbeat,
the first formation of the brainstem,
the first input from developing eyes and nerves.

Until it ceases to be a foetus,
becomes an unborn child,
still entirely I
before the awareness that is we?

Flesh is translucent to light, carries sound.
The womb is warm, with room to move.
The inborn baby kicks,
sucks, feels, sees, hears.

It learns existence is co-existence long before birth.
Do we re-create this moment
in the fleeting moment of waking from sleep?

Cogito ergo sum – I think therefore I am,
flees before I am therefore there is other.
The awareness of one’s body in the world,
when I becomes we.

Existence is a common possession,
without which there could be no we.
It gives us our sum – our I am
our summa – our totality.
It sustains and guards us.

Language can be traced back
across continents, across times.
Sustain can mean feed
or provide continuing support.
feed and guard have the same root PA
from which by different routes
we get paternal and father.

There is a paradox.
The first father of whom we become aware
is our mother.

We co-exist in a world interdependent with us;
in which we live and breathe and have our being,
our all in all.

From the heart of I
to the farthest bounds of all our sight and knowing,
all that provides intimacy,
the wonder of our existence;
the familial closeness of child and parent,
within which we are constrained
and free,
calls for humility,
honour, respect and reverence;
all steeped in holy awe.

We renew it in our waking moments each day.

The I that seemed to be at its heart
is an echo of a greater I who keeps it all,
in whom we place our trust
our hopes for the coming day,
the feeding and guarding that a father provides:

Our Father …

Great and Small Wonders

 
Can you discern the true seat of your soul?
Or say of what your true self is composed?
Give reason for your life? or know the way
In which the essence that is you arose?
Though close confined in flesh and bones, your eyes
Observe the turning world and endless skies.

Enclosed, your soul in seeming prison lies,
Restrained by flesh, particular, within
God’s infinite, eternal universe.
Our boundaries (self stops where else begins)

Show only what our senses will let pass.
Until you know what links your soul to sense
Make no decision as to here or hence.

A boy catches the Sun in a burning-glass. Its image dazzles his eyes blackening a paper sheet; smoke wisps curl, a tiny spot takes fire. A burning glass of photons, tiny portions of the Sun’s heat, so many they dazzle his eyes and light the paper. There are more photons in a burning-glassful of Sun than there are glassfuls of Sun’s rays shining on Earth.

At night; the boy lies in bed gazing out at the sky. Photons, filtered by the clouds, the atmosphere, his window and his eyes, focus in his eyes. He sees small wonders.

He is a marvellous harmony with the photons. Each photon is a harmonic of the whole cosmos and deep calls unto deep. The clouds break. He sees stars, planets, galaxies, the Milky Way. Photons are distorted, focussed and refocused by the gravitational pull of stars, galaxies and galactic clusters, by dark and light matter and the Cosmos itself.

Like a violin string producing harmonics and sub-harmonics, the music of the Cosmos is filled with waveforms and sub-forms. We call them fundamental particles but particles are just our name for the focal points of these very faint, weak waveforms. Although weak, the extent of each wave is as vast as the Cosmos itself. A photon is a fundamental harmonic, one of the smallest notes in the cosmic harmony. The Cosmos is a waveform with many interplaying themes. The burning-glass and the boy are unique and special themes; symphonies on the cosmic scale. It does not matter how many or complex the harmonies may be.

The boy, the burning-glass, the Sun and the farthest star, his body and brain, every cell, sinew and neuron, are part of that harmony. The workings of the mind, emotions, logic, faith, hope, love, may all be explained by analysis of the brain. Not because the brain is all there is but because it is a network of harmonies played on the greatest scale imaginable. Some say that the Cosmos can be examined solely on its own terms; others that it is a wonderful dream in the mind of God. Both may be right. Half a picture may seem complete in itself but it is still half the picture.

Lying on his bed the boy breathes deeply; fascinated by the stars. He listens to his breath. There are more atoms in a lungful of air than there are lungfuls of air in the atmosphere. Every breath since men walked on Earth disperses throughout the atmosphere. Any later breath will include some atoms from it: the dying words of Julius Caesar, the Beatitudes and Hitler’s wartime speeches; the breath of kings and commons, saints and sinners, old, young, hale and dying.

Plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They fix nitrogen and other elements necessary to life. The same distribution goes on in soil and growing things as his breath in the atmosphere.

He takes part of every living thing and person from the beginning of life on Earth with every breath and every mouthful. He is involved in mankind from his birth and in every moment of living.

Earth is older than men. The boy lives in the presence of immense antiquity. No breath of his, of kings or commons, Moses, Abraham or Mahomet went into the Earth’s making. Men have raised up its stone at their most sacred sites, worked it, used it and admired it. But they are not part of it. It is part of them. The constituents of the boy’s body, like those of the Earth, were not formed on Earth but in stars and supernovae at remote times and distances. We are made of the ashes of dead stars.

A picture may seem complete and yet be part of a greater one. Why is there something rather than nothing? Why are men so passionate about the way the world is if it means nothing? Should we listen to those who quote Macbeth: Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing? Or to a still, small voice that tells us: ‘All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made that was made.’?

‘Before Abraham was, I AM.’