Pen strokes paint

Light oak polished
floor, mantel-shelf,
hundreds of books
lining walls each side
small tables, reading
lamps, wall lights – four

modest tv, and film
collection, clicking
knitting needles, coffee
cups, pens, inks, paper
iPad, Mac, iPhone
Bethle’m nativity scene
star above stable door

bright Persian rug
set centred on the
floor – Libertino’s
Italian magic carpet
rides to places
unheard of heretofore.

Beige leather sofa
and chairs, black
stove warming
hearts and home
low round table
books, journals, arts

Zbigniew Herbert poems
Thomas Merton, Thomas Mann
watercolours, Richard Rohr
Rabindranath Tagore
Ken Wilber, Austin Farrer’s
The End of Man

Rembrandt’s The Artist
in his Studio
has inward
looking eyes – painted-out
dulled and black. His
great paintings seen
in mind’s eye and

nothing did they
lack. So from my
mind’s eye in a
favourite room at
home, pen strokes
paint – in words

alone.

Simon Marsh

The end of …

When May Sarton, in company with other contemplatives, orators and poets, reflects on “the end of …” – a flower, perhaps, or a person, or a poem, or the theatre, she’s thinking not just of the finale, or the last stanza, or of expiration, or of wilting and composting, of conclusion. “The end of …” might sometimes be rendered “the purpose of …” – albeit that this may, or may not, include a conclusion to some activity, or to some thing, or for someone.

There’s something of purpose intertwined with all of life’s beginnings and endings. And this is the subject material in Austin Farrer’s collection of university sermons The End of Man. Both purpose and ultimate end, both end and ultimate purpose. So Farrer often brings poets to mind, and poets often make me think of Farrer.

Of the Church, rather as another might of poetry, Austin Farrer writes:

We may begin by making a fuss about the Church, as a clever boy may make a fuss about a telescope, admiring its mechanism of tubes and lenses, and fiddling with the gadgets. But the purpose of the telescope is to eliminate itself and leave us face to face with the object of vision. So long as you are aware of the telescope you do not see the planet. But look, suddenly the focus is perfect; there is the hard ball of silver light, there are the sloping vaporous rings, and there the clear points, the satellites. And where is the telescope? It is no more to us than the window-pane through which we look into our garden.

Austin Farrer
The End of Man, page 52

Poet and prophet alike ask of humankind, “What is your end? What is your purpose?”. And just every once in a while, for all of us, for a fleeting moment, “suddenly the focus is perfect”. That’s why we need prophets and poets. That’s why we need to be poets and prophets.