The Want of Peace

Well I was going to have a rant about football and the environment, women bishops, church, you name it it might have been in this particular blog tonight. But instead I reached for a book of poetry by Wendell Berry and saw this poem, which calmed me down a bit and made me think about dreams and contentment. I’d much rather be musing on garden rows than musing on football rows.The poem also reminds me a bit of Psalm 131.

The Want of Peace

All goes back to the earth,
and so I do not desire
pride of excess or power,
but the contentments made
by men who have had little:
the fisherman’s silence
receiving the river’s grace,
the gardener’s musing on rows.

I lack the peace of simple things.
I am never wholly in place.
I find no peace or grace.
We sell the world to buy fire,
our way lighted by burning men,
and that has bent my mind
and made me think of darkness
and wish for the dumb life of roots.

Wendell Berry


st seamus and the house martins

The continuing weekend of  small time misery continues,
still in the midst of it all a moment of grace supplied by the birds,
a swirling flock of house martins flying behind the house,
darting and arrowing over the Lagan and trees.
Most days I mightn’t even notice,
maybe nobody else noticed or even cared as it’s not a big deal
but it was there out the window.

It reminded me of one of my favourite Seamus Heaney poems, St Francis and the Birds…

St Francis and The Birds

When Francis preached love to the birds
They listened, fluttered, throttled up
Into the blue like a flock of words

Released for fun from his holy lips.
Then wheeled back, whirred about his head,
Pirouetted on brothers’ capes.

Danced on the wing, for sheer joy played
And sang, like images took flight.
Which was the best poem Francis made,

His argument true, his tone light.

Norman MacCaig

Warning – this well be my most boring post ever. I’m warning you now.

One of the best books I’ve read in the past year or two was ‘The Man Who Went into the West:The Life of R.S Thomas’ by Byron Rogers. I can’t really explain why I enjoyed it so much, but enjoy it I did.  It is a book that was a pleasure to read.

I had a similar experience last week when watching a BBC Scotland programme about the Scottish poet Norman MacCaig. I don’t often watch TV programmes these days (we don’t have a TV) but when I saw this was on iplayer I settled down to watch.
The main reason for wanting to watch a programme about a Scottish poet was that when we holidayed in Switzerland last May I took along a copy of ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘The Rattlebag‘. Reading through the collection of poems looking out on the French Alps I would write down the titles of the ones I liked or connected to on the back cover of the book and found that Norman MacCaigs poems always made the back page.  

So with it being St Andrew’s Day I thought I would write to say how much I liked his poems.