Transparent Words - Poetry


5 poems by David Jardine






So very long ago

when earth was young and vast volcanic forces

tormented, tortured, tore apart, restored

and fashioned into unimagined shapes

the monster mountains that would dominate

the Cumbrian skies and web of water courses

into a far unknown millennia –

you were created.


Fluid in the intensity of heat,

condensing into layers of hardest tuff

from which those stone age men extracted you,

split, knapped and cunningly adapted you

to make a prized and precious working tool

for hardest cut, or ceremonial show,

a brand that traders took and bartered with

throughout the bestirring prehistoric world:

today you are displayed in dingy showcase   

inadequately labelled ‘Langdale axe-head’,

but honoured in these lines.






Unguarded entrance to an arcane underworld

of gill and fall, cavern and corridor,

a limestone pot-hole gashes the grassy floor

of undulating foothills, dimly furled

with ribs of rock ascending to the heights

where grey sheep graze in isolated stealth.


A carefree browser, relishing the wealth

of pasture there, edged forward with her sights

on one blade more – too far! She slithered down

the slope, the scree, the sheer drop of the cliff

on that vast hull-shaped hollow of renown,

and perished, her bare bones gleaming in the rift.

O man! beware the slide that leads to hell

and heed your conscience as a warning bell.






      As planets prick the night                           

        with steady gleam,                          

     reflecting in their light                       

         the brilliant beam                

     of hidden burning sun                      

        whole worlds away,                                                                             

     but visible to none           

        while it is day,                                    


     So does your nature shine

        through laughing eyes

     to spark a light in mine

        that never dies.

     For though you suffer now

        beyond my ken

     your faith preserves our joy

        and makes us one.


            For Ann, with breast cancer





When first I saw, through telescopic lens,

the triple rings of Saturn in the sky –

a golden orb against the black of night

encircled with a belt of frozen fire

processing graciously across my view

at speed and distance far beyond my ken –

I stood amazed: to know that this could be,

indeed had been a thousand million years

but never by unaided human eye

observed, admired, enjoyed or understood

until the magic of the telescope

and skill of radio-astronomy

with planetary probes in spatio-flight

revealed a glory and a truth undreamt.


So feel I now on hearing of your name

thrust to the threshold of service and of fame.



Written on hearing that an old friend was to be his Bishop




Smoking Volcano


From the raging centre of our globe

unimaginable heat

flings blazing anger into every crevice,

cavern and spatial cathedral,

spiralling upwards under huge pressures,

diminished only by passage through vast heights;

to emerge at last as swirling, sulphurous vapour

from the depths of the crater to its platform rim:

where many a spectator, weary from the slow crawl

to the summit cone through the glistening snow, 

gazes in amazed shock at the crimson heart

tirelessly beating in the lava far below.


And we, who from a distant point observe  

those Indian smoke-signals

rising and drifting windward until they merge

with soft alpaca clouds on the high horizon 

on a day when the sparkling purity of the mountain

sharply offsets the sapphire of the sky –

we marvel at the majestic sight; but also

ponder the power of destruction in God’s creation.

Dare we who watch interpret these coded dispatches

sent from the inner heartland of his Earth

as warnings against our human interference

with this peerless planet’s ecology of timeless worth?






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