I put my hand in yours.
Please hold it tight.
For my own grasp may weaken as I tire
And stumble on this narrow, stony way,
But though I slip and trip, I will not fall
If you will hold my hand.
Please hold my hand
And guide me through the fog
As well as through the bright and sunny days
When I’m thinking I can manage on my own.
Please hold it tight.
I put my hand in yours
And leave it there.
I trust in you.


Patience Rewarded


Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! He chortled in his joy …

Way back in 2011, when I first started blogging, a photo I had taken of a wall in a vineyard reminded me of a translation I’d made of a poem by Jörg Zink, and I posted it here. At the time, I didn’t remember where I’d read the original German poem, and was frustrated by the fact that without it, it was difficult to polish my English version. Over the last few years I’ve browsed the Internet occasionally but never found the German poem. However, last week I suddenly discovered that at the age of 90+ Jörg Zink had launched a website , and there was actually a “Contact” button. So on the off-chance I sent an e-mail asking where I could find the elusive poem.

To my delight, I received a reply the following morning from the author’s son, telling me that it was in a collection called “Unter weitem Himmel”. (Hurrah!) Sadly, this was now out of print (Boo-hoo!). However, it might be available second-hand (Hurrah!). Yes, there it is on Amazon, at the amazing price of 0.01 €. (Hip-hip-hip Hurrah!)

Of course, there’s postage to pay, but I don’t think I’ve ever paid so little for such a longed-for book. At last I can hone my version in the light of the original, and – Callooh! Callay! – there’s a wealth of gold for me to mine here, as I shall now endeavour to render the rest of the anthology into English. It will make a pleasant change from wrestling with Nelly Sachs’ tortuous syntax and excruciating themes, and I’m looking forward to this new challenge I have set myself.



“Beauty is truth, truth beauty” (John Keats) Photo by Avi

“Beware of liars,” said my Dad.
“Liars are cowards, scared
of the truth, wanting to save their skins.
Have no truck with liars.
And don’t you go telling lies.
I’d be ashamed to own you as my child
If you didn’t tell the truth.”

At 8 years old, a principle or precept
Thus instilled takes root.
Sometimes the truth is very hard to bear
And I’ve preferred
Silence rather than to tell
Everything I know. But if I try
To twist the truth or tell a lie
My body language contradicts it all.
I blush, my eyes go shifty, and I stammer.
I couldn’t be a spy!

My problem is discernment:
When someone I believe in
Deceives me,
I don’t want to see the signs.

I am no polygraph.
So gullible!
I love, therefore I trust
And suffer.
Yes, I must
Beware of liars,
Out to save their skins.
Lies kill.

Big Bad Moon

blood moon eclipse

Thank you to George Ody Photography for this fantastic photo, used with special permission. I love how George has captured that first sliver of Earth shadow.

It was a perfect night for viewing the Super Harvest Blood Moon. Not a cloud to be seen. The only problem was that at its zenith, where all the drama took place, the moon was directly over our chimney pots, and invisible from any of the windows.

I could have popped outside to look, but my bed was a warm nest and it would have meant getting dressed again. So I missed it. But I did see the huge, magnificent golden globe that rose so majestically in the evening, and by 4.30 am it had moved sufficiently far across the sky to be visible again as a pale yellow crescent as it emerged from the Earth’s shadow, so I suppose I can claim to have seen at least part of the show.

It reminded me of another eclipse that I watched – in full – from my Alpine home years ago when the moon rose from behind the mountains and gave a stupendous performance. Taking advantage of poetic licence, I have updated some lines I wrote at that time to imagine how this would have looked had I still been sitting gazing out at the event over the snow-capped Alps.

Lunar Eclipse

Conventional Wisdom
Wants midnight in black velvet
– Or will possibly concede navy blue and a few diamonds –
But this night is all swathed in white satin
With swansdown and pearls
The mountains are wearing grey silk off-the-shoulder clouds
And the moon is auditioning for the role of the sun
And hamming it up –
Flaunting herself like a pneumatic peroxide blonde
Outsize, with excess candlepower,
Preening and pouting,
Parading on her zenith catwalk
For her One-Moon Show
Her Exclusive Special Performance
Extra-full in an empty sky with
A professional act, perfectly rehearsed,
Leading up to the super-dramatic climax
Blushing furiously
Applauded by the stars:
Her total eclipse.

Uwe Schade – The Harmony Of The World

This is my translation from the German of Uwe Schade’s “Die Harmonie der Welt – Lyrik eines Landstreichers”. Other versions may exist, better or worse. That is irrelevant. I have tried to stay true to the spirit of his work, and to reflect something of the beauty of his words. Like everything else on this blog, the copyright for this translation is mine.   

For some information about Uwe Schade, see my blog post The Vagabond Poet and for the German original, click on one of these links or

I hope that my contribution will help to keep alive the spirit of this Gentleman of the Road, tramp, vagrant, vagabond, wanderer, child of nature, old hippy – whatever label you want to give him – may this lyrical Landstreicher speak to you.

The Harmony of the World – Lyrics of a Vagabond

What The Wind Told Me

Your destiny doesn’t surprise you
For you are your destiny
Your encounters don’t amaze you
For you are not separate from them
Your death doesn’t scare you
For you have died a thousand times.

Your movements are the movements of the world
Your changes are the changes of the world
Your standing still is only illusion
Your dying is only a word.

You think you are something particular
Yet you are only a wave in the ocean of the world
You think you are independent
But you are only a meeting point for a hundred thousand forces.

You think you can direct yourself
Because you don’t see what pushes and pulls you
You think you ought to do something
Yet your effort is only resistance.

If you have pain, don’t run away from it
If you have hope, don’t hang on to it
If you seek freedom, you are bound by your search
If you grasp good, your grasp is evil.

Because you are unhappy, you strive
Because you are afraid, you think
Yet your striving misses happiness
Your thinking brings no peace.

You seek a refuge
But there is no shelter
You seek an escape
But there is no opening.
In your speech, a thousand people speak
In your gait there are toads and horses
Out of your eyes peer bird and deer
The grasp of your hands is that of stone-age man.

Your feeling is truth
Your imagination is illusion
You hunt for illusion
And truth pursues you.

You feel the world’s pain
And seek comfort in pleasure –
They cut through your soul with knives
And comfort you with sweets.

Your eyes turn a thousand rays into a colour
Your ears turn a thousand vibrations into a note
Your feeling hands turn a thousand movements into a body
Your thinking turns a thousand perceptions into an idea.

Your perception is filtered world
Your thinking is filtered perception
Your striving is filtered thinking –
What is it you are trying to grasp?

The circling bird is aware only of its prey
The listening deer is aware only of danger
The snuffling dog is aware only of scents
Your wandering thoughts are aware only of satisfaction.

You go to the pleasure-seekers
But their laughter holds no joy
You seek wealth
But it burdens your soul
You seek success
But its brilliance blinds you
You go to the wise
But their wisdom is a bottomless barrel
You call on your God
And hear only your echo
You flee into silence
Yet no one wants to hear your screams
You seek death
But your search is life –
Whatever you seek, you cannot reach
Whatever you flee, it will not leave you.

When every support is smashed
You do not fall down
When every house is destroyed
Nothing touches you
When every desire is poisoned
Nothing tears you away
When all is lost
The world comes to you.

The world is open
You seek to close
The world is bound together
You seek to separate
The world is change
You seek to mould and form.

In your centre you feel the world
With your senses you change the world
With your thinking you flee the world
In your striving you destroy the world.

You force materials into your mould
Yet they crumble
You force children into your mould
Yet they turn against you
You force society into your mould
Yet it doesn’t bring forth humans
You force yourself into your mould
And it shatters you.

The rays of the world pierce you
The vibrations of the world shake you
The forces of the world move you –
Your talk about freedom deceives you.

You talk about freedom
And your motive is coercion
You talk about safety
Because that is what you seek
You talk about independence
And expect applause –

You cannot do evil
For you are the constellation
Of a hundred thousand constellations.

You have courage to fly into space
Yet you tremble at ghosts
You command atoms and rockets
Yet your thinking is not in control of itself
You order the lives of nations
Yet your thinking is in disorder
You dispose of the death of others
And don’t know whether you are not your own destruction.

The mechanics of your logic deceive you
What lives does not move in straight lines
Matter does not move relative to nothing
If you can understand crooked movement
You can see relativity everywhere
The mechanics of your logic are done with.

You maintain your deception
And experience your power
You maintain illusions –
And feel your powerlessness.

You talk of progress
And you are running on the spot
You make revolutions
And repeat oppression
You believe in what’s new
And your thinking is directed by the old
You strain forward
And look backward.

Your living space rises from the darkness of the world
You look at your crown
And feel your roots
Your life stretches taut between the two –
You cling to one
And avoid the other.

If you want to find rest in the world
You must love the taste of the world
If you want to love the taste of the world
You must get to know it
If you want to get to know the world
You must fine-tune your senses
If you want to fine-tune your senses
You must give up all resistance
If you want to give up all resistance
You must stay sitting in one place
You must stay where you are standing –
What you hold tight escapes your grasp
What is suppressed is drawn to you
Your self dies a thousand deaths
The world is born in you.

In your resistance the world grows tense
In your striving the world rises up
In your actions the world changes
In your death the world relaxes

In tension and release you can hear
The harmony of the world.

You reach out for wealth and condemn the thieves
Your resistance acts in both
The tension of the world acts in both
You build atom bombs and condemn their effect
Your resistance acts in both
The tension of the world acts in both
You build a world and fear destruction
Your resistance acts in both
The tension of the world acts in both
A self arises in you and seeks its salvation
Resistance and the tension of the world act in both.

Evil is only an illusion
In the mirror of your morals
Destruction is only an illusion
In the mirror of moulding and forming
Loss is only an illusion
In the mirror of your grasping
Your lingering is only an illusion
In the flow of eternal movement.

The work of your senses is grasping and resisting
Resulting in the beautiful and the ugly
Harmony and disharmony, tasteful and distasteful,
The work of your thinking is grasping and resisting
Resulting in understanding and incomprehension.

Your loving is failure
Your dying is failure
Your openness to the world is failure –
Failure to follow your hidden yearning.

Your cells are permanent exchange
Your blood is permanent flow
Your brain is permanent reaction
Your idea is the attempt to hold back everything.

The foundation of your idea-tower is your resistance
The stones of your idea-tower are your imagination
The cement is your grasping
The spire is your SELF.

In your play opportunities emerge
Your thinking recognises these opportunities
Your striving grasps these opportunities
Your life becomes dependent on these opportunities.

Your thoughts rest in repose
When they are led by a book
When they are amused by a game
When they are disciplined by a task
When they are released in a dream
Your thoughts are in repose
When they are not held fast by you.

When life suffers from itself
Life heals itself
If an idea intrudes
Your suffering remains sterile.

You don’t want to see your pain
For you’d rather look at the remedies
You dare not acknowledge your torment
For you think you have to be its master
You dare not curse your God
For you think he must be your image.
You don’t want to get to the root
For there you are small.

You say you don’t like this food
It’s your taste that you don’t like
You say you don’t like this weather
It’s your expectations that you don’t like
You say you don’t like this company
It’s your attitude that you don’t like
You say, if you dare, you don’t like this world
That is the taste of yourself that you are tasting.

You think you can stay like a little child
The fact you think that shows that you aren’t one
You think you can remain without ideas
What you think is an idea
You think you can stay without disaster
When you hope for that, that’s when it’s close.

In your body, what is alive develops hardness
Then breaks down, returning to you as change
In your ideas what is alive develops confusion
Then breaks down, returning to you as truth
In humanity what is alive develops brutality
Then breaks down, returning as beauty.

You must go terribly wrong
To experience the truth in depth
You must triumph terribly
To experience your nothingness –
Do you believe you can shorten anyone’s journey?

You tidy up matter
And your efforts are endless
You tidy up creatures
And your killing is endless
You tidy up the world
And destruction returns to you.

Can you make a copy of a cobweb?

Just as you experience this moment
Is how what is alive in you wants to experience this moment
Just as humanity experiences this moment
Is how what is alive in humanity wants to experience itself.

If you condemn a thought in yourself
You condemn a living cell
If you curse a feeling in yourself
You curse living blood
If you judge a guilty person
You judge a human being
In whom your thought becomes flesh and your feeling blood.

Your houses lock you in
Your knowledge enchains you
Your wishes pull you hither and thither
Yet life is movement that comes from itself
Your breath is not made by you
Your fire is not kindled by you
Your actions are not caused by you
Your life is movement that comes from itself.

Sometimes you break the stone
Sometimes it breaks you
You see your colour standing out from the usual grey
Yet there is no variety in the universal context.

If what is alive is stimulated
Resistance or desire starts to grow
If people are stimulated
The self grows
If the self is strong
Blindness is great
And destruction never ends
Therefore those who wanted to change people
Had to flee from them
Therefore the words of those
Who meant well with people
Became the source of endless destruction –
Because the self was strengthened.

If you have something in your eye, your eye doesn’t see clearly
If your thinking is bound, it is immobile
If your self is strong
Your orientation is weak.

The grace of your sickness is
That it doesn’t let you see you are sick
Thus you are spared great pain
The curse of your sickness is
That it doesn’t let you see you are sick

Thus you remain sick
But when what is alive suffers from being alive
It goes forth out of everything.

When the feeling of want begins to grow in your centre
It makes your edges keen to grasp
Your eyes seek pleasing images
Your ears pleasing sounds
Your palate pleasing tastes
In your mind pleasing ideas spring up
If you stay in your centre
It will satisfy itself.

If carnal pleasures bind you
What is alive will find release in carnal pleasures
If words and books bind you
What is alive will find release in the use of words
If mysticism and faith bind you
What is alive will find release in mysticism and faith
If high and low bind you
What is alive will find release in striving ever higher
If anyone tries to untie your bonds
You will defend yourself
No one likes being robbed of their means of redemption
Yet what is alive seeks release
So it will happen –
Yet you cannot alter the breathing of your soul.

It is so difficult
To climb from the illusion of power
Into the truth of powerlessness
You are as addicted as a mosquito
That risks everything for a drop of blood
You are dazzled because you can say
“Let there be light” when you press the switch
You conquer the highest peaks
Yet your triumphs will run through your fingers
And the valley of pain awaits you
For look, it is easy to recognise your non-existence:

Day and night
Ascent and descent
Growth and decay are reactions
Hunger cold fear are reactions
Seeing feeling recognising are reactions
Understanding and incomprehension
Attraction and repulsion
Opening up and closing are reactions
Devouring and excreting
Grace and curse
Darkness and enlightenment are reactions

Yet you are all of these.

What is alive experiences the illusion of form
In repetitive motion
In cycles of birth
In cycles of feeding
In cycles it experiences the bliss of being-in-the-world
Yet nothing is repeated
The compulsion to recur is in everything you do
And the circles easily turn sterile.

Matter organises itself
Into recurring motion
To experience in tension
Its own form of motion
Its own circling
From mystical energy
To maintain its rhythm
That is the interest of the vital spark
Destruction of the rhythm
Is experienced as death –

When the rhythm of your sterile circles is disturbed
They shatter
And you experience the grace of death.

The new is interference
In the circles of your thoughts
The new is interference
In the direction of your walk
The new is interference
In the doom of your striving –
The world brings back the one who goes astray
Yet you cannot see the door to freedom.

Once you saw the land of nameless beauty
Have you forgotten?
Once your deeds came from the source of innocence
Have you forgotten?
Once the whole world was in your feeling
Have you thrown it away?

It is still all there inside you.

Red And Black


I’m a Black Country wench
Born where men and women made nails
For their own coffins
And chains to enslave themselves.
Red by day and black by night,
Red and black:
Fire and soot.
Iron ore and coal dust are in my bones and blood.
My great-great-granddad Charlie
Like his blacksmith father before him
Made iron baskets and buckets in Bilston.
Another was down the mine at nine or ten
Hewing coal all his life
Red hair and black lungs.
Though the family moved away
Went north to other mines
The magnet in the blood
Drew my father back to stay
And I was made
In the Black Country.

Horse Sense

Despite the elephant in the room
The ostrich has the best policy
Letting sleeping dogs lie
Rather than disturbing a hornets’ nest
Or opening a can of worms.
So don’t let the cat out of the bag
Or put her among the pigeons.
A wise monkey knows better than
A bull in a china shop.
Instead of telling it straight from the horse’s mouth
Just let the cat have your tongue.