Tag Archives: religion

I Started Early – Took My Dog, by Emily Dickinson

I have recently subscribed to the Poetry Foundation’s Audio Poem of the Day. The poem for Monday 6 July is Emily Dickinson’s “I Started Early – Took My Dog”, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/podcasts/75386/i-started-early-took-my-dog-656.

To me, Dickinson’s poem is full of erotic imagery:

“But no Man moved Me – till the Tide
Went past my simple Shoe –
And past my Apron – and my Belt
And past my Boddice – too –

And made as He would eat me up –
As wholly as a Dew
Opon a Dandelion’s Sleeve –
And then – I started – too –

And He – He followed – close behind –
I felt His Silver Heel
Opon my Ancle – Then My Shoes
Would overflow with Pearl –

Until We met the Solid Town –
No One He seemed to know –
And bowing – with a Mighty look –
At me – The Sea withdrew –”.

The above could be read as a description of the sexual act. In particular the poem’s ending, “the sea withdrew” does, I think need no further comment from me.

Dickinson was a deeply religious lady. Yet religion and the erotic are not mutually exclusive. But perhaps my interpretation is wrong, and the poem is what it says it is, a description of a woman’s trip (real or imagined) to the sea, and how the tide nearly overwhelmed her.

I would, as always be interested in the views of my readers.

There Are No Gods

There are no gods.
Men are but sods
In the end
My friend.

Yet we strive
To stay alive.
And some pretend
That there are gods.
But we are sods
In the end
My friend.

Though, the poet’s work may survive
Long after his eyes
Have closed.
And, who knows,
Perchance he may find, at his end
That we are more than mere
Sods.

Yet I fear
That there are no gods.
And we are but sods
In the end
My friend.

A Humorous Reimagining of Church of England Services in the Light of the Corana Virus/Covid-19

A humorous reimagining of Church of England services in the light of the Corana Virus/COVID-19, https://www.salisburyreview.com/blog/certain-amendments-to-the-liturgy-and-hymnody-of-the-church-of-england-for-the-duration-of-the-present-emergency/.

Strolling Through the Graveyard in Early April

Strolling through the graveyard in early April,
I enjoy the warm sunshine.
I am not sure of the divine.
Still,
A man may take pleasure
Whilst not knowing whether
Mother Nature, or the Creator
Causes the sun to shine.

Both are divine.
And a minuscule
Virus does wait,
Unseen by the eyes,
To seal the fate
Of the fool
And the wise,
For it does not discriminate.

Eternity

Some find
In the arms
Of that ancient profession
A kind
Of passing peace.
But a girl’s charms
Fade, and many a confession
Is made
By those who still believe, to the priest.
Though, in modernity, eternity
Is feared, by those who think
On dust
And such
As a never ending drink
From the waters of Lethe
Where men find
Peace
From the world’s call,
And all
Thought
Is reduced to nought,
In Hades where there
Is no hot
Fire, and desire
Is forgot
In an eternal, dreamless dream,
And Satan’s grin, is never seen.

For the song

When The Clock Does Stop

When the clock
Does stop,
You can wind
It again.
But when
The brain,
(Some say mind)
Ceases to be,
What shall become
Of you and me?
For there is no sun
To see,
And we,
Can not rewind.

I Take Offense!

Recently, I attended an event which began with a choir performing several songs. Later on that same day, I learned that a number of attendees had been offended by the irreligious nature of several of the songs and where minded to complain to the organiser of the event.

The above incident caused me to consider to what extent (if any) I (as a poet) am under an obligation to avoid causing offense. Should I censor my writing and/or performances to avoid upsetting my readers and/or listeners?

I am, by instinct a liberal as regards such matters. If you don’t like a book, a television programme, or a poetry performance then you can stop reading the work in question, turn over to another channel or walk out of the performance.

Having said the above, where young children are present it is, of course wrong to expose them to adult material. I have never known of a poetry performance where it has not been made clear as regards those who will be attending. Of course where a performance is advertised as being suitable for all ages, young children etc, it would be wholly wrong to read poems touching on adult and/or erotic matters. Some of my poems do contain adult themes and I would never dream of performing them at an event at which children where present.

However, I am deeply concerned at the growth of the view that there exists a right not to be offended. Let me qualify the foregoing statement somewhat. Of course we all have a right to be offended. Indeed one can not help finding certain things offensive. What we do not have is the right to use our sense of offense (how ever genuine that may be) to censor artistic expression. Most of us are offended by something or other, whether that be swearing in public or the person standing next to us on the tube who has failed to clean their teeth! However we do, as adults have the capacity to either ignore the offending behaviour or to walk away. To argue that certain songs, literature etc should be prohibited and/or restricted simply because I (or you) don’t like it, is deeply iliberal and ends in a society where poets and other producers of art confine themselves to writing about flowers and sweet little lambs frolicking in the countryside. Whilst there are some wonderful poems and other artistic creations touching on these themes, no artist should be compelled (or feel so compelled) either by the state or the force of public opinion (whether majority or minority opinion) to self-censor. To do so leads to an anodine world in which little (if anything) of artistic value flourishes.

I well remember having a conversation with a person of deep faith in which they stated that no one should be allowed to criticise their religion and, in particular their god. I find this perspective deeply disturbing. We do, thankfully live in a liberal society wher you and I have a right to be offended. However we have no right to use that offense (however deeply felt) to call for the censoring of the opinions of others, whether in the field of art, politics or in any other sphere.

I Am Going Home

I am going home
Today,
Alone
(Save for my dog).
I have been away
For a week or so,
And will be sad
To go
But glad
To return by train.

One day, I shall travel unfamiliar terrain
And find a new home.
I will be
Alone,
But shall I see
A confined space, with a stone
Above?
Or shall I know god’s love?
Or simply die
And be,
No longer I?

Oft I Pass By The Graveyard Plot

Oft I
Pass By
The graveyard plot,
But rarely stop
Though one day,
I shall stay
When the creator
(Whether god or nature)
Takes my breath away.