21 Feb 2020

I went to the U.K. immediately after Brexit and found that travel was absolutely fine. Meanwhile, I’m back with poems after a time of absence. This one uses a Spenserian stanza form of ABABBCBCC. I haven’t yet found a way of setting the poem sensibly with the format provided by WordPress!

Up and Down

1. He used to pray with up-turned face and yearned

With all his tight-sprung soul to see

the day: so the finger-tips of trees are turned

to the clouds and reach for the warmth of nearly

spring, a green consummation; so the free

worshipping folk sing with hands to the sky

marching up to the sacred place, a glory

shining in their eyes. If God’s a high

dweller, enthusiastic twigs must upwards fly.

2. And some must drop: prunings on the ground,

cut off, thrown down, then gathered up to burn

or chucked in the ditch by the field: he was often found

with those discarded ones who would not turn

to heal, and could not risk the words of a stern

priest: down he went on a tide of blood,

with nothing to do, and nothing to know, but learn

how to drown well: he was found at the edge of the flood,

looking glad; and God saw that it was very good.

© Bob Whorton 2020

23 January 2020 –

A little while back I was in Oxford and re-visited the Ashmolean Museum. In the basement was an exhibition of paintings and drawings by the American artist Philip Guston. I spent some time sitting in the gallery, and was participating interested in the words he used to describe his process: ‘The act of drawing is what locates, suggests, discovers… On a lucky day, a surprising balance of forms and spaces will appear and I feel the drawing making itself, the image taking hold.’ And again: ‘Just you, the subject, the ink, the paper, it, the object. No separation. Completely. And what it takes to get there’. I was struck by the similarity between the artistic process and the prayerful process. Bob.

5th December 2019

Our English TV shouts, ‘It’s Christmas’. This is not true of course, as it is the season of Advent for a few weeks yet!


Breathe in the silent winter trees that point

through grey to the hidden sun and the space

between where hope abounds. Anoint

the ears: those streams long dry now spit and race

and sing. Gaze upon the vapour trail

which shines between the smoky clouds. Be still

my tangled, anxious thoughts, and make a tale

of light green, born of stagnant mud, to fill

a stable and a tomb. O thou. O thou:

come quickly, let me glimpse your hidden face,

breathe and hear, die and live. Now, now

is judgement, end of time and endless grace –

I watch you gather in my days; you seek

© Bob Whorton 2018

my soul and lift the fragments to your cheek.