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

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

Ein Tag an der Donau

danubeEin Tag an der Donau

Wir gehen zur Donau
      mit dem Fahrrad: und auf der anderen Seite
aus dem weiten blauen Wasser
      die Schwäne schwammen in einer Reihe
an die Küste geklebt
      in Richtung Norden
Ruhe den Fluss
      außer wo es gesaugt hat
die Steine des Flussufers
      und brach in kleine Wellen.

Und die Zeit verging
      und nichts wurde getan
und mein Geist trieb in der Ferne
      und überall wurde
nirgends
      und nun
wurde war
      und es war gut

John Lyons

Walking to Eynsford

Eynsford_ford

Walking to Eynsford

That you could walk
      for miles across fields
of richly tall and ripe
      barley and oats
and never cross a road
      sticking solely to public
rights of way cutting diagonally
      across the North Downs
to the medieval village
      of Eynsford

That life journey we shared
      a father with his three sons
and one of his daughters /Mary/
      who was always game for adventure
and we carried sandwiches
      and a large bottle of lemonade
and in the photos
      we took turns to wear
my father’s hat
      though it was far too big
and fitted none of us
      and never did

And on the far side of the river
      long-horned cattle grazed
and we paddled in the cold stream
      and baked under the sun
and the sound of childhood laughter
      drifted away on the summer air

John Lyons

Day by the Danube

danube

Day by the Danube

Cycled out to the Danube
             : on the far side
of the blue wide water
             white swans swam in lines
sticking close to the bank
             as they made their way north
The river was silent
             except where it sucked
at the stones on the shoreline
             where tiny wavelets broke

And time passed
             and nothing was done
and my mind floated off
             into the distance
and everywhere
             became nowhere
and now became then
             and it was good

John Lyons

Versión en español

Un día en el Danubio

Nos dirigimos al Danubio
             en bicicleta : y al otro lado
de las anchas aguas azules
             los cisnes nadaban en fila
pegados a la orilla
             en camino hacia el norte
Silencioso el río
             excepto donde chupaba
las piedras de la ribera
             y se rompía en pequeñas olas.

Y el tiempo pasó
             y nada se hizo 
y mi mente flotó en la distancia
             y todas partes llegaron a ser
ninguna parte
             y el ahora 
se convirtió en ya se fue
             y fue bueno