A PROUD AND SHARP DELIGHT

Published in Poetry

This poem was written by Air Commodore Alastair Panton, CB, OBE, DFC (1916-2002). Originally published in "Wings  - and other things" by Group Captain Hugh Lynch-Blosse in 1990, it reappeared in "Six Weeks of Blenheim Summer, an RAF Officer's Memoir of the Battle of France 1940", by Alastair Panton and Victoria Panton Bacon, Biteback Publishing, 2014. This poem captures in a delightfully evocative fashion a pilot's rapture at the experience of flight.


I love to fly from night to day,

And, pendant, wait the first smudged ray

With tired eyes. Then day breaks free;

The cold sky glows; and suddenly

The coastline smiles upon the sea.

And there's no proud and sharp delight

To match the loneliness of flight

Above the clouds. Then, later, high

Over the sunset, I hush the sky

With gliding turns, until I fly

Along the darkening rolling grass

To let my wheels, oil-cushioned, pass

Unfaltering from gentle flight,

As gentle as the glimmering light.

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"TRUE LOVE" - A POEM

Published in Poetry

My love is like a steady climbing rose,

Because with all the years that pass,

It builds upon the past and grows

Like further lush and verdant grass.

My darling, the one thing in this life

That I can say I really know

Is that  I want to be with you, my wife,

So that my love can expand and glow.

Your voice, your smile, your touch, your kiss,

These are the things for which I care.

While I have them all my life is bliss,

My joy is full, my luck is rare.

O Angel of my heart and home,

I love you and you alone!

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SKULLPOEM

Published in Poetry

Behind the tegumental mask

Mastodons blurt in the muddy mind
Jocose congeries of trolls
Lurk in its veering groves
But after the terrible percussion of the clotting jetsam
The gracious triremes out of memory
Cleave the null striations,
Spurn the precocious fealty of wood.
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"ICARUS" - A POEM

Published in Poetry

The poem below is inspired by the famous tale of Daedalus and Icarus as told by the Latin poet Ovid in lines 220-235 of Book VIII of his "Metamorphoses" (for an account of this see Sabidius' translation of this great work available elsewhere on his blog). The poem presented here, which is in the form of a 14-line sonnet, suggests that Icarus' attempt to transcend the normal physical limitations of a man by flying through the air was fatally undermined when his father called out to him by name. Thus, the confidence of a man engaged on any great endeavour can be dented by a reminder of past frailties, and so the sublime can subside into the commonplace.
 
Still, when the spiralled heights had slid beneath,
He hovered vibrant, feather-fingered hands
Greeting the wind. Enraptured, sea and land
Span into order; reason held its breath
And plunged - to rise its talons gripped on truth.
The last equations of eternity
Resolved themselves, as air and height and sea
And depth and land encircled into one,
Proving him what he knew - until
"Icarus! Icarus! Not so near the sun!"
Shattered his knowledge; named, once more a man,
Stoned by the weight of all he did not know,
Side-slipped, face downward, drably mythical,
Pinioned towards the sunlit sea below.
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"SEEN THROUGH A GRILLE OF SQUARES" - A POEM

Published in Poetry

Seen through a grille of squares, the sky,

Is split up, intersected, neat,
 
Closely related, tree and cloud,
Rooftop and spire trick the eye
 
To think geometry complete,
To make the world an ordered crowd
 
Of lines and squares, intensify
Rationalism in defeat.
 
This is another way to shroud
An ill-conceived complexity
 
Beneath a simple form, replete
With all the errors of the proud,
 
Who hope, by thinking, to retain
A cosmos in their compassed brain.
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"STONES" - A POEM

Published in Poetry

The air is spun disjointed. Sounds and days,

The idling fingers of our lassive drift,
Endeavour to restate the discontent
Of minimal encounters - a grimace
A hand, a block of stone ... The years that went
to dogged balancing of each on each
(Triglyph and metope, tongue to slotted rift)
Scattered like armour on a blood-stained beach.
 
Lists were of course prepared, proportions found
And counterchecked - " So many thousand load
Of marble", " Such a curve, viewed from the ground,
Gives the effect of being straight" - amounts
Recalculated, notes transferred ... But still
Retracts in silence time's unfailing Once;
Before the cart-dust settled on the road,
The whirlwind breaks about the sacred hill.
 
Accept, examine, redetermine, hold -
Within the fractured pattern I can trace
Contorted shudders of reality.
Feel where the shadowed gridlines interlace,
Woven through dust-stained, water-melon streets,
Their sudden brief constraint; recall the old
Unvisioned fears ... The final memory
Shards into ashes and scatters all retreat.
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