To Holland House came Elizabeth Vassall,
with wealth from her family’s plantations.
She had five children by Sir Geoffrey Webster
and, at twenty three, created quite a stir
when she left him for the third Baron Holland
and his more exalted social station.
She had attributes to surpass them all.
Beautiful if autocratic,
with a warm if calculating heart
though little taste for the democratic,
except a fashionable admiration
for Bonaparte.
Now, with a name aristocratic,
she felt smiled on by indulgent Fates.
Willingly she had exchanged Jamaican darkland
for monogrammed, wrought-iron gates,
and fifty-four acres of wooded parkland!

Lady Holland, Georgian siren
for whom the brightest luminaries of the Age,
Macauley, Scott, Disraeli, Dickens, Byron,
shined their spotlights on her stage;
her garden ballroom (once Jacobean stables),
her imported dahlias, peacocks, chestnut rides,
her liveried servants dispensing punch in ladles
and, no doubt, equivocal asides.

And yet, in not one hundred years,
those same Fates “blind with abhorred shears”
dropped on the House
she had dominated with such aplomb
a German incendiary bomb!

Sic transit


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Newspaper headline in a “Democracy”:

Have you noticed how world-wide
A versus B situations are becoming
more and more confrontational?

Stoking up the fires of hatred and dissatisfaction
in more and more areas of human activity.

Sport, politics, arms sales.
National and international.
Racial and domestic.
Marriages, families, medication, religions.
Even sexual identity.
Even educational.

Just like a heating compost heap,
getting ready to burst into flames
and unify its contents
into next year’s fertiliser
as we sleep.

Are we getting any the wiser?


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First the left hand, then the right;
in each, a ball, in each held tight.

When a third comes into view,
what exactly will you do?

Let it roll past on its way,
down the hall and out the door?

Or grab it and bring it into play,
or even look around for more?

Throw one up into the air,
see how it seems to go up there.
Round and round, see where it spins
and, as it falls, the game begins!

And what a game! For as you snatch it
you must let go another to catch it.
Now both your hands have to hurry
forever in a whirl and flurry.

The more you grab, the worse it gets.
How it started, you forget.
Is there no peace in this kinetic cage,
performing here upon an empty stage?

The game’s the thing; is its own reason
and every time of year its season.
The world spins on in this commotion,
this frantic, senseless, cosmic motion.

How will it end? For what can stop it?
We surely cannot simply drop it.
We reach and clutch, catch and throw,
on and on and on we go.

Exhaustion brings a final fumble,
we and our juggling all down tumble.

The Sun, too, will tire of this game
and all its planets will fall down again.


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There are haves
and have-nots.

The poor are always with us.

Sometimes, poverty and suffering
provoke a great man
and there is a revolution.

With much blood shed,
much sacrifice,
much heroism.

Afterwards, the country lies wounded.

And there are haves
and have-nots.

имущие и неимущие


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Leaves from the Tree of Life;
brown and withered,
dried with growing old,
dislodged by the touch of Time;
or green,
with veins still swelling
with rising sap,
torn free by an untimely wind.

What are they,
these dancing treasures?

The more the tree creates,
pushing and budding
out of reaching, branching fingers,
the more they spiral down
and spin and congregate
like giant midges
in every gust and eddy.

What are they,
these dancing treasures
from the Tree of Life?

Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts.
Each contains in its form
the whole tree.
Each contains in its form
the denuded tree
cannot do without.

Spiralling, spinning,
they clog drains
and streams
and waterways;
make paths treacherous.

Good for nothing
but rotting down
and feeding
the insatiable hunger,
the thousand breathing mouths
of the sangsāra!


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Why wake him?
You woke to nothing,
do you think he won’t?
Your hand will guide him firmly and away,
your lips will teach the nonsense he will say,
your sins on him
every day.

At best,
he’ll pass the test
you failed,
but where you won
will be undone.

At worst,
putting him first,
you’ll chain his mind
to you in front and you behind.

At worst/best
you pierce his blessed darkness,
take his vision and fix his sight
on the broken splinters of your light
unmercifully shining:
a savage in a hole
dragging the sons of light
to gaze at shadows on a wall.

It’s not the tomb
that leads to hell,
it’s the antiseptic smell
that opens on the womb.
There are the white-coated
and the flower-carriers
smiling in their blindness
goaded on by kindness.

Always, behind the chalk,
the cruel admonitory talk,
the printed notice and the pen,
the forcing on to make them men,
-the kindness;
the blindness-kindness,
the training of all that can be trained.

Do they not realise
that building is for gods?
Cannot even the wise
think it odd
that a man must slave
for what he cannot have?

Is it left to be the knowledge of the few
that life is only something to be got through?

You needn’t wilt
or tire,
nothing need be built
any higher.



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I was born
just like you.

I came from
I knew not where
just like you.

I had the good times
and the bad;
was by turns
unhappy and glad
(just like you).

Till I determined:
from I didn’t want
as I wanted.

This I achieved
(just like you?)
making as I wanted.

But then I saw
that where to led
to the end of making
as I wanted;
to a losing hold of
beyond all power
of holding and remembering.

So I chose to let go of
BEFORE I lost.
And I chose to forget
BEFORE I forgot to choose
(and not remember the cost).
And with my NOW seeing quite clearly where to,
I turned around
to see if I could see
where from.

And I found
where from
is HERE NOW where I have always been.
(And where to
is here too.)

(And you?)


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When I was very young
there was something called “Grownups”.
(Like dinosaurs they are now “extinct” –
the stage after “endangered species”).

Occasionally, a Grownup would say,
“I was miles away!”

We children would look at the Grownup
with wonder.
How did he do it without being seen?

“We children” are now an “endangered species”.
The “stage after” is even further away
than miles.


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Man invents and Man becomes
the slave of his invention –
Time-clock invention.
Maintenance and breakdown.
Marriage the chains of Marital Fidelity.
Governments and the laws
of taxes and repression.
Medical Science and the slavery
of Pharmaceutical Propaganda.

Clothing, the Tyranny of Brand Names,
clothing factories for Indian children.
Agriculture and deserts.
Churches and the theft
of their Spiritual Foundation Stones.
Houses, Maintenance and Mortgages.

Above all, Work.
You work to lead the Life
you think you choose.
You end up living to work
without the Freedom
that you chose to lose.
Motor cars: traffic jams, pollution, tail-backs.
Science, microscope, telescopes
instead of spiritual vision.

Egoic self and dissolution
binds you with your own tether
and makes you the witness
to their (and your)
painful dissolution.
Collect all of your inventions together!
See what we have traded
for the uninvented treasures
of this world.


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Look for it, you will not find.
Flee it, you cannot escape.
It shines, unbidden in your mind,
is both the shadow and the shape.
You cannot hold, or change or lose it.
You cannot welcome or refuse it.
You did not make or break or choose it.

(Take good care just how you use it).


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