Saturday, 26 July 2014

Spirit Lake

I have just uploaded a new video/poem to my You Tube channel, and this post is especially for those of you who tell me you cannot access You Tube for one reason or another.

My close friend Graham shot a lot of video footage while visiting Stourhead a few weeks ago, but we have only just got around to editing it; this is the first of three sequences (others to follow in the coming weeks). I wrote the poem especially to accompany the video; for any of you able to access You Tube, as well as reading the poem over the video, I have also included it in the description.

Stourhead is a 1,072-hectare (2,650-acre) estate at the source of the River Stour near Mere, Wiltshire, England; it was originally owned by the Stourton family for about 500 years, and has been in the ownership of the National Trust since 1946.

The lake at Stourhead (NB ‘Spirit Lake’ is simply the title I have given to the poem and video footage) is artificially created. Following a path around the lake is meant to evoke a journey similar to that of Aeneas's descent in to the underworld; passages telling of Aeneas's journey are quoted in the temples surrounding the lake. In addition to Greek mythology, the layout is evocative of the "genius of the place", a concept made famous by Alexander Pope. Buildings and monuments are erected in remembrance of family and local history.

For more information about Stourhead: 

This poem is a villanelle:


World of peace and tranquility
(looking out for its own); 
Earth Mother’s greater legacy

Time playing games with history
(myth into maturity grown);
world of peace and tranquility

Dreamland lake in all its serenity
(solitude, yet not alone);
Earth Mother’s greater legacy

The very best of prose and poetry
(open minds freely shown);
world of peace and tranquility

Watch ripples pausing at eternity
(life force unknown)
Earth Mother’s greater legacy

Each heart, wing, flower and tree
(life arts, ever windblown);
world of peace and tranquility,
Earth Mother’s greater legacy

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

Monday, 21 July 2014

Without You

Losing a loved one is hard enough, but losing someone in an accident or with such suddenness that we have no time even to say goodbye has to be about as hard as it gets…

This poem was written some time ago, but in the light of the recent air tragedy in Ukraine our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims on board flight MH17, apparently shot down by a surface-to-air missile while crossing a war zone. Our hearts go out, too, to those killed during the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I am left wondering just what kind of sick world we are living in, and is there really the socio-cultural-religious-political will among its leaders to nurse it back to health?  I guess we can but play our part in our own little corner, and trust the ripples spread...


You left this world
without a word, no time
to say goodbye

You left my world
cold and dark, its comforts

You left this world
before your time, its tears
making headlines

You left my world
your body, mind and spirit
to keep it sane

You left this world
its anger and grief, playing
blame games

You left my world
on the wings of a heartbeat
forever ours

We gave the world
benefit of our worst doubts
in return for…this?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Balancing Act OR Measuring up Prime Time in the Scales of Sense and Sensibility

Life, death, it’s an eternal balancing act...for nature as well as for humankind. Oh, we like to think it’s down to us to maintain a reasonable balance but let’s not underestimate the power of the natural world to put us right...


On the crest of a wave like a surfer poised to head
for home in a swirl of raging foam

Nature re-birthing us, milk at the breast, in the best
tradition… survival of the fittest

Life forces, challenging the spirit, proof of humanity
against evidence to the contrary

Humanity, in majesty, going it alone in a lion’s den
bringing us into our own again

Survival, won through to applause (hearts and minds)
or passive acceptance?

Humankind, surfing a primeval wisdom, reworking
a pact with The Unknown

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2010

[Note: An earlier version of this poem first appeared in an anthology, Watch the Dawn, Poetry Now (Forward Press) 2003 and subsequently in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.] 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Eyeless in Gaza (Revisited)

Today’s poem as written five years ago; tragically, little or nothing has changed unless for the worse.

Surely, it is high time leaders on both sides looked to their consciences instead of their politics and worked together for a peaceful solution to this sick war?

Playing the blame game will only cost more lives. 

This poem is a villanelle.


Blind carnage in Gaza
(world calling for a ceasefire)
a crime against nature

Child calls for its mother
(dead before she can get there)
blind carnage in Gaza

Each side blaming the other
(but who pays the dogs of war?)
a crime against nature

Dispute dragging on forever
Its roots in geography and culture;
blind carnage in Gaza

Ordinary people fear
the rest of the world doesn’t care;
a crime against nature

Diplomacy holds the answer
(were politics but see its way clear);
blind carnage in Gaza,
a crime against nature

[London, January 8th 2009]

[From: On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010.]

Friday, 18 July 2014

Dark Shadows

Like most of the poems I write in the first person and this is not an autobiographical poem. It is, however, a tragically true story of someone who passed a recreational drug to a friend who subsequently died. People who use drugs forget that everyone’s body chemistry is different. What gives someone a high can kill someone else.

There is something almost (and horribly) socially acceptable about taking drugs in the UK these days, rather like drink-driving. Drug abuse (including alcohol) can destroy not only the user but whole families.

Some celebrities set an appalling example.

It isn’t being a wimp or wet blanket to say 'no' to drugs when friends are trying to persuade you to give it a go. It is showing good sense and a maturity far beyond their years.

I am thrilled that feedback suggests a growing number of young people read my blogs. To them especially I say, YES, celebrate. YES, party. YES, have fun… But (at any time of year) say, NO, to drugs…if only because there is a lot of rubbish out there these days, rubbish that can kill.

If you can't say no, get help.


Dark shadows asked me…

I said “No!” Yet, they followed,
sweet talked me,
broke my will – so I bought
the damn pill

Dark shadows begged me…

I said “No!” Yet, they followed,
sweet talked me,
broke my will – so I gave  him
the damn pill

Dark shadows threatened me…

I said “No!” Yet, they followed
bad mouthed me,
broke my will - and I still went
to his funeral

Dark shadows everywhere,
bending the ear…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem - under the title ‘Shadows’ appears in 1st eds. of First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Sunset on a Country Churchyard

Today’s poem is a recent revision of an early piece, written in 1972, first published in Reach (issue 6) poetry magazine in 1997 and subsequently in my first collection.

Whenever I read early poems, I am often prompted to make revisions; sometimes major, sometimes minor, but always significant. Oh, but if only we could look back on our lives and do the same…


A subtle blush
haunts the sky like a shy ghost
stroking the fair-haggard visage
of a long day’s dying

Owl, flying the killing fields;
confetti, where hearses
passed for wedding cars, answer
to a mother's prayers;
a clapping like bats' wings
for fraternity's sake
in the womb-tomb of our history
at this, my wake;
fireflies, frantically obscuring 
photographs of us, like the tears 
dancing on every eye 

A full moon's up,
Rabbit starts, darts for cover;
Owl knows better (even than us)
how soon it's all over

Copyright R. N. Taber 1997; 2001; 2014

[Note: An early version of this poem appears in Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Book, 2001.]

Monday, 14 July 2014

Letting Go...

Regular readers will know that Hampstead Heath is not far from where I live. Read about it at:

...and see-hear read one of my Heath poems - the very first one - (On Hampstead Heath) on my YouTube channel:

Now, I have often said on my blogs that letting go of the past and moving on does not necessarily mean leaving anyone or anything behind.

In my experience, the moment of letting go and placing it in the time capsule we call Memory is invariably as intense as it is exquisite; intense, because it is so personal and exquisite for being so highly charged with the bitter-sweet smells and tastes of recollection, the inner eye selecting the best of the best while tactfully (or conveniently) skipping the worst.

This poem is a villanelle.


On Parliament Hill, I let go of a kite
and watched it drift over London
till just a speck of summer twilight

I felt humbled by the glorious sight
as if I were sailing Heaven;
on Parliament Hill I let go of a kite

Fair, copycat bird in graceful flight
filled me with awe and inspiration
till just a speck of summer twilight

The faintest star, harbinger of night,
tracking me down Memory Lane,
on Parliament Hill, I let go of a kite

Empathizing with passing daylight,
gripped by a sense of hanging on
till just a speck of summer twilight

Putting wrongs aside (if not right),
time enough for celebration..
On Parliament Hill, I let go of a kite
till just a speck of summer twilight

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2014

[Note: A slightly different version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]