Conjoined bubbles

I’ve been celebrating the “energy” in a friend – how it alights upon the borders of the lives of others, and also upon their inner lives, and their senses.

Rather like the occasional conjoining of the rainbow-reflective bubbles my grandchildren love to blow on sunny summer days – as their parents did before them, and my siblings and I, and our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents – the energy in us and in all creation is always and everywhere gliding into the orbits of life-energy in others.

And sometimes the connection raises a smile, a sudden awareness, an appreciation. Even where eye-contact is ordinarily avoided. Even in the rush and tumble of the steep-rising elevator in the London Underground station I rose upwards and out of the other day there is, sometimes, marvellously if fleetingly, a deep, deep recognition of a oneness, a unity in and amongst extraordinary diversity. In the sense of poetry’s meaning “to make something” every expression of life is a unique and distinctive contribution to the richness and precision of the poetic.

In the process of writing, your energy gradually begins appearing in every line; eventually the lines don’t resemble anyone else’s because they are all composed of your energy

Robert Bly

Your energy – which is also shared energy – variously expressed, through you and through me, underground, and upwards and onwards, to the highway and the light.



Nuestras vidas son los rios,
que van a dar a la mar,
que es el morir. ¡Gran cantar!

“Our lives are rivers
and rivers flow and move to the sea,
which is our dying.” Marvellous lines!

Among the poets I admire
I love Manrique the most.

A sweet voluptuousness of living:
tough knowledge of leaving,
blind flight to the sea.

After the fright of dying.
the joy of having arrived.

Great joy!
But – the terror of returning?
Great grief!

Antonio Machado
translated by Robert Bly

Castilian poet Jorge Manrique was meditating upon metaphors in the 1460’s when he penned Coplas a la muerte de su padre (Verses on the death of Don Rodrigo Manrique, his Father).

Life – like rivers that flow and move to the sea.

I’ve been watching rivers do that this week – keeping company with a poet of the 1400’s, and with another, Antonio Machado, who was born in 1875 and who died in 1939, and with another, Robert Bly, who translated him, and with my wife, and with friends and acquaintances, and with a host of unknown persons, flowing in their hundreds and thousands.

Flowing rivers, all of us, making intricate but temporary little artworks in the constantly washed, and shifting, and warmed white sand. All of us flowing towards the great sea from whence we came. And sometimes in the watching the heart aches for the beauty of it all, and for the poignancy of the departing. But there is to be a joy in arriving, and then, keeping empathetic company with Lazarus, we shall doubt that we want to return.

Poets across the ages unite ages unto eternity.