The poem which follows is, I consider, the best I have written in the last four years. It is dedicated to Robert Beavis, an archaeologist who organised a visit of the Lansdown poets to a dig in Berkeley, which was the starting point for the poem. ( see our website lansdownpoets.co.uk). In certain moods it is difficult not to feel overwhelmed by the weight of misery contained in human history. C.S. Lewis’s remark that there is no sum total of human suffering is a partial corrective, although it does, no doubt intentionally, lead on to thoughts about the most that could be suffered by any one person. This lies behind the line, ‘What was suffered is not transmitted’, but the following phrase ‘Dear absence’ records an ambivalence, ‘dear’ meaning blessed or merciful but also costly. Here is the poem.
We know so little. A stone cries in the night. Obstinate specks of clay eclipse the glitter of brooch and ring. A clasp no longer gathers unto itself. We dig, we dig deeper, touching the subtle fabric of ancient ties. A riot of unholy feeling prevented the cracked vessel from ever being full - or so we tentatively suggest. The past hurts and our recourse is to firm ground where business employs and engrosses. In snatches, letting go daily effort, we feel both guilt and terror for crimes which may also be ours. Mistaken to picture our seed running through lived lives, a twist of exempted gold. Were we taught or do we know in our bones the violent history of our kind? What was suffered is not transmitted. Dear absence. Distant crucifixion. Wild. Beyond calculation. Luminous passion. More life.