Inland by Edna St. Vincent Millay

People that build their houses inland,
People that buy a plot of ground
Shaped like a house, and build a house there,
Far from the sea-board, far from the sound

Of water sucking the hollow ledges,
Tons of water striking the shore -
What do they long for, as I long for
One salt smell of the sea once more?

People the waves have not awakened,
Spanking the boats at the harbor's head,
What do they long for, as I long for, -
Starting up in my inland bed,

Beating the narrow walls, and finding
Neither a window nor a door,
Screaming to God for death by drowning -
One salt taste of the sea once more?

(to Contents)


from Love and a Life by Edwin Morgan


None of those once known is disknown, hidden, lost, I see them in clouds in streets in trees
Often and often, or in dreams, or if I feel I ought to be at my ease
They prod and probe: ‘When my head was on your knees
And your hand was on my head, did you think time would seize
Head, hand, all, lock all away where there is no ring of keys - ?’
xxxxxxxxxxI did not, oh I did not,
xxxxxxxxxxBut look what I have got,
Frame of a moment made for friendless friendly time to freeze.

‘Ah canny say Ah love ye but.’ ‘I know, that’s all right, it’s all right.’
‘Ah love ma wife an ma weans. Ah don’t go aroon thinking aboot you day an night.
Ah wahnt tae come in yir mooth, an see thee teeth a yours – see they don’t bite!
Ah like ye right enough, but aw that lovey-dovey stuff is pure shite.
Ah widny kiss ye, God no.’ But kiss me he did one afternoon. with a drink in him, at Central Station, on the lips, in broad daylight.
xxxxxxxxxxIt will not be denied
xxxxxxxxxxIn this life. It is a flood-tide.
You may dam with all your language but it breaks and bullers through and blatters all platitudes and protestations before it, clean out of sight.


Love is the most mysterious of the winds that blow.
As you lie alone it batters with sleeplessness at the winter bedroom window.
The friend is absent, the streetlamp shivers desolately to and fro.
Your prostate makes you get up, you look out, police car and ambulance howl and flash as they matter-of-factly come and go.
There is pain and danger down there, greater than the pain you know
xxxxxxxxxxBut it is pain all the same
xxxxxxxxxxAs you breathe the absent name
Of one who is bonded to you beyond blizzards, time-zones, sickness, black stars, snow.

First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light!

(to Contents)


God's Story by RS Thomas

A thousand years went by.
The Buddha sat under the Bo tree
rhyming. God burned in the sky

as of old. The family waited
for him who would not come back
any more. Who is my father

and mother? God fingered the hole
in his side, where the green tree
came from. The desert gave up

its saints. The Pope's ring was deadly
as a snake's kiss. Art and poetry
drank of that slow poison, God,

looking into a dry chalice,
felt the cold touch of the machine
on his hand, leading him

to a steel altar. "Where are you?"
he called, seeking himself among
the dumb cogs and tireless camshafts.

(to Contents)