Monday 30 November 2009


We saw a trampled shoot, a plinth
Without a column, and a flame
Guttering, one little but a name
Who would not quit her labyrinth.

God saw perfection - only this
Pearl, of this size, could deck the site
He had prepared for His delight
And for Marina's lasting bliss,

Only through working in these ways
Could He impinge with perfect skill
To work this pattern to His will
And gain from us eternal praise.

O depths of riches - what divine
Wisdom and power and love can do
Impels our worship as we view
How God secures His grand design!

July to September 1994.

Thank you, sisters in Christ and brother in the Lord, for your encouraging comments. Time has moved on and new pressures have been faced. And new joys - I posted Barrie's wedding verse on 5 February 2008. He now has a small son.

The verse I used is that used by Tennyson in "In Memoriam"; it is his wife who is buried in the same churchyard, and Tennyson Down is the most prominent hill - falling in a white cliff to the sea - in the area.

For elucidation of vii and xii I may post something tomorrow.

If elegies suit you - have a look at 27 June 2008, and 15 - 18 May 2009.

As for the weather - crisp and frosty here today; rainy much of last week, but no floods in this area. Dumfries and Galloway was bad; ta sound bad English but that's the name of one region. By the way I'm near Edinburgh but the computer thinks it's in Manchester. I'll get Craig to sort this for me next year, if the Lord will, when he comes here to preach.

Sunday 29 November 2009


Return to the particular:
There is a grave beside a wall
Near where the waters rise and fall,
Tidally, by the river Yar.

Life has its rising swells of hope
And if these sink in ebbs of care
We normally avoid despair,
Struggle a bit, and learn to cope.

Marina does not have the joy
Of hope, nor does she crave success
And watch its rising happiness,
As the tide bears an air-filled bouy.

Marina does not have to drudge
Bailing the waters from her boat
To keep her ebbing dreams afloat
Until they founder in the sludge.

Saturday 28 November 2009


God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform, and yet
It is the will of God to let
His mind be known through prophecy.

If in the detail of His ways
We rest upon His grace and trust
We know His work, in its broad thrust,
Secures a people for His praise.

Standing before Christ's judgment seat
We shall observe the perfect skill
That chastened us to work God's will
When all that working is complete.

He will complete what He begun
And carried on by calm or storm:
It is His purpose to conform
Us to the image of God's Son!

Friday 27 November 2009


An insect moves among the trees
Unconscious of the pollen's power
Conveyed by her from flower to flower
As she pursues the yen of bees.

Seeing the bee a honey guide
Has turned a ratel from its tracks
To rob the honey and the wax
As their instinctive lusts provide.

The pistil, fertilised, transforms -
Seed, shoot and sapling pullulate;
Birds, beasts and insects congregate
In vibrant, interactive swarms.

Again God's detailed work is proved
Through skills we barely understand
Since He has webbed strand after strand
Of life, because an insect moved.

Thursday 26 November 2009


And dear Louisa, you have been
The comfort of your mother's heart,
A vivid, loving counterpart
Of shades of what she might have seen.

Yet since you're like a little elf
Grinning at us your impish grin,
Eyes shining out the sprite within,
We gladly see you as yourself.

Plough your own furrow, straight and sure;
Go by the tenor of your way
But as a pilgrim tread, and pray
To keep your mind and motives pure.

Work only for your Lord's renown,
Composing all things for His praise,
Till from Him, as, through grace, you gaze
On Him, you will receive your crown.

Louisa was born about two years after Marina. Whether she would like to be compared to an elf now I doubt!

Wednesday 25 November 2009


Dear Barrie and Susanna, You
May wonder as the years go by,
Missing that little sister, why
This was the course God would pursue.

God leads His own through many a test
To teach His people that they must
Lean upon Him and learn to trust
The love whose way is always best.

If from known fields where they have been
A shepherd one day leads his flock
Among coarse thistle and dry rock
The fields beyond are rich and green.

And when you have an easier way
Remember still that God, in love,
Observes your pathway from above
Longing to see you trust and pray.

Tuesday 24 November 2009


Dear Sarah Anne, You will, I hope,
Forgive this probing of your wound:
Changing, your sorrow waits, cocooned,
Till God's time gives its glossed wings scope.

Within, where it cannot be seen,
The oyster cradles its own grief
And layer on layer secures relief
In giving to the pearl its sheen.

Go by the north gate and its cold
Into God's house; be restful there,
Till sent out by the south gate, where
Well-watered, southern lands unfold.

The One for whom the north wind blew
In chastening, as proof of grace,
Now, for another time and place,
Is He who sends the south winds too.

Ezekiel 46:9; Song of songs 4: 16.

Monday 23 November 2009


Dear Alastair, I trust you will
Forgive my verse's poverty
Since death points up the paucity
Of anything I claim of skill.

But what to you was bitter night
For me was cloud to shade my way;
Even my deepest empathy
Inevitably must be trite.

Though I am poor, One who is rich
Was watching with you in the dark
And from that night He left His mark -
His perfectly embroidered stitch.

He is the One who loves to dote
Upon this product of His own,
Rejoicing in the sweeter tone
And timbre of a well-tuned note.

Sunday 22 November 2009


(Rom 12: 2)

The Lord could speak of it as food
But we need chastisement to move
Our stolid hearts until we prove
That in each detail it is "good".

It was "acceptable" to Christ
In concept and in consequence;
In us His Spirit helps dispense
With promptings of our carnal geist.

The perfect Man could perfectly
Fulfil God's "perfect" will; but we
Imperfectly behave, or see,
Until with Christ eternally.

It is "of God" and He is Son
Of God; yet none has borne the cost
To do God's will and save the lost
As Jesus in His grace has done.

Saturday 21 November 2009


Tottering forth she would have found
New lands to conquer every day;
And reaping in her fields of play
Have set her feet on firmer ground.

She would have brought her faculties
Within her ego's vassalage;
Like tropes deployed upon a page
She would have been her personal traits.

But, like us, going her own way
She would have trudged the wilderness
Till met by One intent to bless
Who bent her heart and knees to pray.

And as a shepherdess her skill
Might have secured her little fold:
Her fable was more briefly told,
Since this desire was not God's will.

Friday 20 November 2009


But how we would have loved to see
Her showing off her infant charms
And chuckling in her mother's arms -
Which God decided would not be.

And how we would have watched her grow
Delighting in the normal child
At whose quaint ways we would have smiled -
But by God's will it is not so.

We might have seen her day by day
Flourish in ease and loveliness
With sparkling graces to express -
But our desire was not God's way.

And woman, ripened to fulfil
Beside a loving husband's side
The features of a graceful bride -
But this desire was not God's will.

Thursday 19 November 2009


There is no stone to mark the site
At which Marina has been laid
And nowhere is her name displayed
Who went through darkness into light.

Perhaps a stone is barely fit
For one who scarcely lived at all,
Whose character evades recall
Because her death extinguished it.

Perhaps a stone would focus grief
For those who come to view the place
By giving a less vacant space
And thus accord them more relief.

But surely where her body lies
Heaven has pleasure to record
And at the coming of the Lord,
Transformed, Marina will arise.

Wednesday 18 November 2009


By the lychgate I left the car
And took the trodden pathway round
The old church on its little mound
Which stands above the river Yar.

The Yar had yielded to the tide
But gleamed still in the evening sun;
I saw a white horse and a dun
Graze in the meadow by its side.

Lichen has coloured many stones
Asserting its quiescent life
Round where a famous poet's wife,
Among the many, rests her bones.

And here Marina lies. I stood
To contemplate her early death,
Less than a vanity of breath;
Yet knew God works all thing for good.

Tuesday 17 November 2009


An apple blossom, fertilised,
Draws moisture from the tree and joins
Cell upon cell while it burgeons
As its genes' plan is realised.

Daily the fruit becomes more lush
Allowing potent sap to fill
Its body forth with good until
The sun imparts its ripened flush.

To satiate my taste and needs
I grasp the fruit and relish flesh
Making my tongue and palate fresh,
But find no virtue in the seeds.

Her body ripened to be born,
But if God chose to pluck that fruit
We have no title to dispute
The deed that left our hearts forlorn.

Monday 16 November 2009


Was she not wise to flee a world
Grounded in pain and lapped by tears
After that Eden, strange to fears,
In which her being had been curled?

Why should we mourn that she should miss
This torn earth she need never thole,
Gone from one world, replete and whole,
Into her everlasting bliss?

The watchdog, savaging within
The being it was set to guard,
Conscience, has never pressed her hard
Since she was free from acts of sin.

Yet she required no lesser cost
As shapen in iniquity
Than us who wander from the Way
To Him who came to save the lost.

Sunday 15 November 2009


Why should I go to view the grave
In which Marina's body lies
Since saint nor angel will apprise
Her soul of thoughts the visit gave?

What am I seeking to effect
Since she in shunning paths of night
And going straightway into light
Claimed no respect or disrespect?

And what would visiting achieve
For those who bore the hardest brunt
And still must thole the daily want
Except to make them freshly grieve?

I search for cause or motive; yet
It is through instinct that I know
That it is right that I should go
Simply since I do not forget.

This is the first of sixteen contemplations of Marina, the daughter of friends, who was born while they were on holiday on the Isle of Wight, and died immediately. I wrote this mainly on the island during a holiday there not long afterwards, in 1994.

Saturday 14 November 2009


Eternally God
Will have man in subjection -
Even in the Son.

Eternally man
Will have an approach to God -
Only in the Son.

Friday 13 November 2009


The Son of David, intent
On His way to Jerusalem,
For a blind beggar’s cry.

The Son of God, bound,
Yet with incisive power,
Silent, before man’s judge.

The Son of Man, glorified
Before His witness’s vision,
Ready to welcome His People.

The Son,
Heir of all things,
Set Himself down
On the right hand of the greatness.

Thursday 12 November 2009


I will hear His cry
Calling me away
I will rise
To the skies
Evermore to dwell on high -
Will it be today?

I will see His face
Filling me with bliss.
What delight
In the sight
Of the Man who came in grace:
Where is hope like this?

And I shall be changed
Suited to His love.
As is He
I shall be
As the grace of God arranged,
Home with Him above.

Wednesday 11 November 2009


He came in smallness,
Gentle and sensitive,
To be this sacrifice -
The turtle-dove.

And as a dove
Finding rest for the sole of its feet,
The Holy Spirit
Had descended upon Him.

He sees His Bride
In her uniqueness -
His undefiled,
His dove.

And sends His own
Amid the world’s wolves
To be sensitive and gentle,
Guileless as doves.

Tuesday 10 November 2009


It is encouraging as we pursue
Our way through scenes of death to know
God has another world of life in view.

Mid this world’s hunger I have amplitude
Of sustenance as under God’s command
To go to Jesus for my seed and food.

There is defence from all that would defraud
God of response and me of joy and peace
Because my life is hid with Christ in God.

There is a flock and, in such company,
The Shepherd leads us to abundant life
Within the pastures of His liberty.

Lifted outwith this piteous world’s malaise
We know affection which surpasses thought
And lift to God a song of gladsome praise.

Monday 9 November 2009


*A Man after God's heart,
Who'll do all His will, has been found;
*But man preferred Barrabas,
A thief and a murderer.
*Could there be anything worse
Than to reject God's Chosen?
*Doing everything well
He walked here amid mankind
*Extending all God's blessing
To those willing to receive it,
*Forgiving repenting souls
And showing men God's way.
*Giving their sight to the blind,
And healing those who were ill
*He displayed the heart of God
And Christ, the Son of His love,
*In every step showing
His righteousness, yet His grace.
*Jesus, rejected by men,
Took up the charge against us,
*Kept our souls from God's judgment,
And bore the sins of many.
*Love was displayed at the cross
Which exceeds understanding -
*May every one rejoice
To know so great a Saviour!
*No one will be excluded
Who has faith in this Saviour;
*Prince of peace is His title
And He leaves His peace with us,
*Quietening our spirits
Since He has endured the storm.
*Redemption being needed
He has shed His precious blood.
*Sinners planned a sinner's grave
But God secured a new tomb
*Till the exciting morning
When He arose from the dead,
*Undefiled by death's traumas
And ready to guide His own.
*Victorious He has gone
Above all of the heavens:
*Exalted over all things
He gave, from there, His Spirit;
*Zealously let us give Him
The honour that befits Him!


Sunday 8 November 2009


God chose, in Jesus, to descend
In grace we cannot comprehend
That grace should thus secure God’s end.

Saturday 7 November 2009


Affronted by sin’s intrusion - Eden
Besmirched, Man condemned, death
Let loose, God fell back
On what was better - His plan:
Redemption in Christ Jesus.

Affronted by Man’s sin - Golgotha,
The acme of human evil - willing
Thralls to Satan, God fell back
On what was better - His Son
Raised by the glory of the Father.

Affronted by Satan trenching on
His rights in His house publicly -
Lordship wrested, God fell back
On what was better - the Church,
A bride adorned for her Husband.

Friday 6 November 2009


Rosie brings to mind
The scripture “on her tongue
Is the law of kindness”.

Thursday 5 November 2009


“My brethren” - the Lord
As a risen Man conferred
This high dignity.

Wednesday 4 November 2009


The brethren - heaven’s
Aristocrats in disguise...
Sometimes a good one!

Tuesday 3 November 2009


The brethren - comrades
In the wilderness, bending
Towards God’s promised land.

Monday 2 November 2009


The brethren - the saints
Chosen in the Beloved
Before the world was.

Sunday 1 November 2009


The brethren - the folk
Who give me a cup of tea
After the meetings.