Vienna’s past participles

Vienna’s past participles

The lesson is
            that we are all history
history in the making
            and that one day
we will be history
            our acts finally over
and our achievements
            hung out to dry

Empires fall
            and the palaces and gardens
become curiosities
            the days of grandeur long over
the vast imperial buildings
            with their tall colonnades
and endless emblems
            of power and authority
are empty relics
            of the past

and everywhere you go
            classical white statues depicting
every imaginable motif
            creating a mythic atmosphere
and it is as though
            it was all intended to recreate
a past in which once upon a time
            it might have been noble to live

John Lyons

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each unexpected day

each unexpected day

each unexpected day
      with its rain
its gusts of wind
      its bursts of sunlight
shortlived
      but welcome nonetheless
and each step
      and each breath taken
as we move
      from time to time

there is so much
      to see and to do
in this world
      and yet
we cross our arms
      we sigh
and we slip into
      a haze of undefined
thought
      the cycle of trees
reminds us
      that leaves will come
and go in the autumn
      will fall
and that all life is dust
      that will one day
find its way down
      to the inconsolable sea

John Lyons

From an unknown papyrus

From an unknown papyrus

Why does the day end
            why bring on the night
its moon and stars
            and so much more
invisible to the naked eye
            and what was born
and what will die
            with the day that dies
and rise again
            as the morning rises

Hope and love that outlast
            the rituals of time and place
the latency of all life
            and every perception
every feeling caught
            and shaped and announced
in the amorous art
            of creation

John Lyons

Nachtritus

Nachtritus

Und nachts
      wie die Musik des Tages verblasst
und Vögel legen sich ruhig hin
      in ihren Nestern
und die Straßen sind leer
      und ein Vollmond
schaut von hinten
      ein Streifen dicker Wolke
Sie können zu Hause sitzen
      mit allem was Sie brauchen
sicherlich verliebt
      von denen um dich herum
Sie können einen Moment verschonen
      über die Notlage nachdenken
von anderen weniger Glücklichen
      und zähle deinen Segen

John Lyons

Night rite

Night rite

And at night
      as the music of the day fades
and birds settle in silence
      into their nests
and the streets empty
      and a full moon
peers from behind
      a swathe of thick cloud
you may sit at home
      wanting for nothing
secure in the love
      of those around you
you may spare a moment
      to consider the plight
of others less fortunate
      and count your blessings

John Lyons

Vienna’s Stephansdom

Stephansdom_Vienna

Vienna’s Stephansdom

How to read
      the intricacies of faith
chiselled into pale stone
      every plane every angle
and in the cool silent shadows
      weary emblems of ecstatic energy
of saintly narratives
      and terrifying passions

The names in the inscriptions
      gradually fading into dust
the corrosive way
      of the world
of all life
      humbled by death

What persists
      is the belief
and something of the love
      the kiss that outlives
the tears
      the cross borne with a smile

Through the towering spire
      cold winds whisper
and in the square below
      the carriage wheels grind
and hard hooves resound
      on the worn cobblestones

Yes a monument
       to the warmth of fellowship
to a common purpose
      expressed in dying crafts
an overwhelming art in which
      the devil is in the detail

John Lyons

St Stephen’s Vienna

St Stephen’s Vienna

The intricacies of faith
      the cool silent shadows
all things seen
      from every angle
emblematic art
      the pleasure and the pain
the terrifying passion
      the beauty of it all

Towering spires through which
      the wind whispers
a message that reaches
      into the depths of the soul
a monument to craft
      to guilds and fellowship
to a belief fixed
      on unshifting foundations
decor decorum decoration
      all the outward signs
gathered under one roof
      the devil in the detail

John Lyons