hans christian andersen.png

Hans Christian Andersen by Anne Grahame Johnstone – see

for MWG

Green velvet smoking jacket
svelte and warm and treasured
since Cambridge
the pool of light that quickened
the grain in his oak desk was
as much a portal for him
into other worlds as was the
oak door through which he entered
his library at every

Sometimes the desk supported
the console of a racing carriage and
at others the cockpit of
a spaceship from the pen of
Leonardo da Vinci and
at others still the pool of light
upon the desk resembled that upon
the spectacles of a tiny Rumpelstiltskin
or the chestnut hair of Lydia
the one and only he’d ever
truly adored

And his pen added a carrot-nose
to a snowman fashioned
by his father and the slowing
pace of his seventy-five year
old legs was rejuvenated as
his pen pointed brighter than
candle flame into the
archives of an always fertile mind

His eyes could appear as blank
black discs in a handsome patrician visage
when observed at the desk from
eventide street window but
only because there they gazed
inward, remembering, rejoicing
resurrecting realities borne of
fairy tales of wingéd truth

Simon Marsh

When Boston was Venice

a c goodwin | boston harbour i

click painting for details

Each of us was handed a calendar page at the writing group meeting the other day. ‘Look at yours for two minutes,’ was the instruction, ‘and then write whatever comes into your head.’ So I looked – and could see and hear the sights and sounds of sunny Venice – and the writing that flowed is hereunder.

But I was fascinated by the origins of the unsigned work – and that led me, wonder of wonders, to Google’s extraordinary reverse image search which involved a quick iPad snap of the page, uploading that to the site, and hey presto, turns out that this fine work (dated around 1915) is by American artist Arthur Clifton Goodwin (click for Pinterest page), 1864-1929, and is of T wharf in Boston Harbour, not Venice! Art transcends mere geographical boundaries! And yes, there’s another parable in there somewhere. Anyway, here’s what came out of the quick exercise, unedited, penned in about 5 minutes …

Brushmarks for Venezia

The Saturday boy at the
poshest café in Venice
sweeps the autumn leaves
into a corner of St Mark’s Square

Morning mist, now largely
dispersed, still hangs present
enough to filter the spectrum
over the Grand Canal upon which
gondoliers and industrial
boatmen and awestruck
travellers jostle and call

Thea is enthralled and in love –
already writing of romance
beneath the Doge’s Palace in her
heart and head –

‘Io parlo l’italiano molto bene!’

– and Julian aspires to
owning a gondolier’s hat
and marrying Thea at the
earliest opportunity

and returning here in
September and October
for the rest of their days

Simon Marsh


creation's iridescence

Neither hot nor cold but perfectly
temperate – we watch and celebrate
her waving and turning, singing and
smiling, echoing and flying, through
and around and above and beneath
iridescent infinities quite
beyond prior experience or
any ability even to
begin to comprehend, let alone
give voice to. The old words don’t fit. Here
flowers are like flowers but are not –
and some figures are like lambs or lions
but only for less than might once have
been called a second before all time
telling became redundant. And stars
and galaxies explode into view but
don’t appear to grasp or occupy
more space than seems appropriate or
perfect design. A wave, a smile, an
echo, flight through, around, above and
beneath. Neither division, hunger
or thirst, wearyness or waiting but
one exquisite union, one perfect
creating – every thought and atom
redeemed and sustained by the cosmic
dance processing paradise – yearning
for which makes life on earth cry out and
reach for her song, smile, flight and echo

Simon Marsh

What calms and settles …


Today we’ve enjoyed the company of a friend who sought a day’s peace and quiet. ‘Just a little bit of stillness.’ And I knew just the place, close by, to find some stillness – the kind that facilitates the quietest sort of conversation, unrushed, with plenty of silence between words and sentences (if we don’t count the racket created by three hugely enthusiastic woodpeckers!)

So we headed uphill. On foot. The drystone wall pictured here was chief among the features of the landscape that my friend alighted upon quickly. This landscape helps people breathe life deep. And I recalled a poem I penned, on a similar walk, in the autumn of last year. A friend’s quiet seeking led me too, once again, into ‘a little bit of stillness’.

What of vast realities do I see,
gazing on lake and fell and drystone wall?
What do I hear here, deep in my soul in
this present, and my soul’s memory hall?

What calms and settles my undue haste and
whence the touch, smell and taste on the breeze?
What in wide and expansive openness
places me thankfully, deeply at ease?

What about this being here restores me
to an ancient and forgotten knowing?
Here in high magnificence I now breathe
life deep and am both come and going.

Simon Marsh

Happy returns


When we were children we
used to give you the Giles
annual at Christmas:
‘To Dad, with lots of love,
from Simon, Sarah & Nick.’

And we still enjoy those
brilliantly drawn accounts
of loving family
life in which everyone –
cantankerous grandma,

the bobby, the parson,
postman, prime minister,
ma, pa, cold-struck Vera,
and the children, mad dogs,
cats, and neighbours, lived with

cheerful – if chaotic –
confidence that they were
loved and treasured. On your
eighty-fifth birthday I
know my siblings will join

me in telling you that
it has been like that for
us, Dad. You and Mum are
creators; together
you made that greatest gift

of all – our family
lives in that confidence
too. Happy birthday, and
thank you. Eighty-five times
and counting, we love you.

Simon Marsh

Light with purpose

Photo at Pixabay

Light with glad purpose shone from an
echo in the firmament. This
one’s for you as you wait here to
do homage to eternal word
within, and rest awhile to hear
the writer’s modest voice and art’s
vocation take honoured seat that
pen sets and honestly repeats
for community here above
Rydal’s poetry. The bowl heals
as it calls and the tone is home
within the heights of a reborn

Simon Marsh



Huge waves, white-capped, teal in the
afternoon sunlight, crash onto
sculpted rock beneath me. Neither
rocks nor waves asked for their place or
role on this earth.

Both arrived, compelled by forces
beyond and greater than present
forms. Fashioned by persistence and
rendered lovely gradually
in time and space.

And albeit with our human
ability to contemplate
it, compelled, sculpted, beautified
in time describes you and me too,
shaped, ever new.

Simon Marsh