Poems of Loss and Strife

This part of the website has potentially a very large compass. Loss was something I felt acutely in my love life, however I have quarantined the poems about those experiences, keeping them within the section called Poems of Love and Lust. The loss and strife here tends to be more the sort of thing that strikes at a certain level of society, or even the conflicts that occur between societies, and the resulting loss. Peace and social justice are always very present among my concerns, and the emotions they arouse find their expression here.

Getting older I have become increasingly aware of the dark side of life. Humans understandably want to be happy and positive and therefore understandably put pain and suffering to one side. But this is misguided. Pain and suffering are just as much a part of life as joy and pleasure. Poetry, like other arts, provides a perfect vehicle for not only giving vent to this pain but also trying to make sense of it. My moral or ethical self often rises to the fore when I’m writing in this field, and so I often become didactic and, some would say, preachy. So be it. If people feel that this compromises art in some way – though I don’t see why it should – then I apologise, however this is my take on things and I don’t resile from it.

Loss and strife have been favourite themes of many of the great poets. Some of my favourites in this regard are Homer, Shakespeare, Longfellow (The Song of Hiawatha), Yeats and Eliot. On the comic side I might even add Pope's The Rape of the Lock. Humankind is well served by the sublime ability of poets to turn feelings of pain and outrage into eloquence, with "memorable speech."


We in the service of government

Are asked to show our agility:

Like so many monkeys en ménage,

Leaping around in futility,

Bouncing around in a glass cage.

We in the service of government

Are asked to show our resilience:

Like so many monkeys en ménage,

Rubbing the bruises of our impotence,

Hitting the walls of a glass cage.

We in the zoohouse of government

Are asked to endure a cold gaze;

But maybe we monkeys en ménage

Will one day rise as sapiens

And smash the walls of the glass cage.


Up comes the dirt-dry grass,

Little stubby fingers that clutch

At earth’s edge; they seek the touch

Of ropeyarn rain, God’s saving grace.

So hope I now, and pray

Against the hurt, the heat,

The hard and burning feet

Of human slight and misery.


How defiantly do grass shoots

Sprout with each paving stone;

How pushily do spreading roots

Crack through a garden urn.

So we all break the bonds

Of laws that hold us down,

For nature cannot be denied

But comes into its own.


A meditation on W.B. Yeats’s poem The Second Coming

On and on in a wilderness

The fighting rumbles on,

Bumbling like an army tank

Blindly killing, blinding,

Destroying self point-blank.

Is this a Beast of Second Coming,

Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born,

Or the desperate sad departing

Of our civilisation’s firstborn?