please click photo for further illustration

Can a snail think? –
asked Joaquin of Janine.

Sagacious the Snail
slithered and smiled
his ponderous route
down the turret face
of the Baptistery of
La Sagrada Familía

They’re obsessed with
themselves – his feelers
reminded him

Humankind thinks
itself the centre
of the universe
and doesn’t allow
time for contemplative
snail sliding, or the
forest from which a
Christmas tree was
plucked or the
apple that will
surrender its life
and history to the
grace of a sparkling

Nor do they wonder
how far down below
them this hardest of
all rocks began to form
millennia ago before
being raised and washed and
dressed and hammered and
shaped into sky-searching
spires in a Temple of Light
that gives part-lie to the
weakness of my snail-like

For here in and
on this basilica in
Catalan sunlight one
contemplative member of a
sometimes brash
homo sapiens has
afforded space and
glory and its own unique
history of species to an
oddly permanent Christmas
tree, fruits in painted
stone and giant snails
among other creatures on
an unimaginably spiritual

Anton Gaudi really gets snails
and apples and rocks and trees

And illumination

Simon Marsh

Many colours, white page

Photo at Pixabay

Sometimes there are so many life-colours to choose from, we can’t make the first mark on a page. Poetry and painting become ethereal, intangible presences, contemplative hours in the ‘windmills of my mind’ – more of and for the soul than for canvas or paper.

Like me, our newly returned house martins are sometimes very focused and productive. At others they revel in flight, chirping, circling and dipping like fellow global wanderers the swallows. And I know seasons when I’m more house martin or swallow than writer or painter – more preoccupied than occupied – and that seems good to me beneath the joyful racket in the nest above my window.

… we slant our wings and then
Come swirling down
Into the village streets

Twittering we alight
On roofs and treetops
On hedges gates and arches
Even the little belfry
Of the Angelus
Is clothed in feathers

The shouting laughing
Village children
Come tumbling out to greet us
And all our desperate long journey
Is lost in joy and utterly forgotten

Anne Porter
from The Swallows’ Flight
Living Things – Collected Poems, page 57

We have still to learn

Photo at Pixabay

An Altogether Different Language

There was a church in Umbria, Little Portion,
Already old eight hundred years ago.
It was abandoned and in disrepair
But it was called St Mary of the Angels
For it was known to be the haunt of angels,
Often at night the country people
Could hear them singing there.

What was it like, to listen to the angels,
To hear those mountain-fresh, those simple voices
Poured out on the bare stones of Little Portion
In hymns of joy?
No one has told us.
Perhaps it needs another language
That we have still to learn,
An altogether different language.

Anne Porter
Living Things – Collected Poems

Among the joys of being alive for me is the sense I have, at the core of my being, that we humans do indeed need an altogether different language – and that we will discover, are discovering, and will be given it.

And when I’m occasionally thought barmy for being in possession of such a faith, I point – have pointed for forty years or more – to poetry, which is moving, always, in that direction, sometimes quicker than at first we can keep up with it.

(Always before us and / leaving as we arrive – as R S Thomas has it.)


What do you wish might properly be said were there an altogether different language with which to say it, or hear it? In asking the question, in altogether different searching silence, we may hear and see such a language being brought to birth within and around us.

That’s why we’re here. Co-creating. Poetry – life that cannot always be told, but that can hint and inspire, handed down through generations, eight hundred years and more. And that’s vivacity. And I don’t mind being thought barmy!

Their finest

Despite a slightly slow start, we loved this so much we enjoyed a second viewing this evening. Particular soft spots for Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy – ‘I’m awfully good’ – and, of course, he is!

Wonderful score and period filmography of blitzed London and pre-plastic-everything Devon fishing village. Who remembers hotels with only one primitive bathroom, and queues? And there’s an exquisite little vignette of twins Rose and Lil singing together, followed by Bill’s Will ye go lassie, go (which brought tears to my eyes) – accompanied by the packed-tight pub’s piano.

Warm as toast. Recommended, with enthusiasm.

Hearty thanks to our kind friends for the superb supper afterwards, too.

A good day


Red squirrel watching (can you spot him atop the wall, just left of centre?) and a writing day today, along with enjoying cherry blossom and entire youth clubs of lambs like little jump jets leaping into the air, chasing each other with abandon, and all-engaged in a cacophany of Mmmmaaaaammmm at dusk.
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Joy and haplessness

Photo at Pixabay

We’ve a family of twenty or so sparrows the branches of whose home-base protect our hedgehog hut. I’m enthralled by their antics most days and when I try to understand their drive and flight and play I come back almost always to one word – joy. Why else do they engage in choral twittering from dawn ’til dusk? Or flap their tiny wings to raise up a dust-bath for twenty in the heart of our kitchen garden? Yes: I’m captivated by their joy. And by hedgehog haplessness which perhaps amounts to the same thing, but appears ponderous. An earthenware water bowl is carefully seated in a flower bed near Hedgehog Hall. Every evening at dusk one or two shy souls partake of the tucker sprinkled close to the bowl, and then they drink, daintily tipping the bowl to aid their convenience. Clever little chaps. Why then do they always head home via the same route – up, into, through, spilling, up and over the other side of the bowl? Is this haplessness, or bathtime – or joy? Strange creatures, those humans, they’re all probably thinking. They heat their water, and then get into it, and wallow in it – indoors! What’s that all about then?