For I have loved her. . .


Come comrades,
leave me here a while
and when you want me
sound upon the bugle-horn

All around the curlews call
flying over Locksley Hall
In the distance sandy tracts
and hollow ocean-ridges
roaring into cataracts

Many a night
did I look on great Orion
sloping slowly to the West

Many a night the Pleiads
rising through the mellow shade
did glitter like a swarm of fire-flies
tangled in a silver braid

Here about the beach I wandered
while the fruitful land reposed
and dipped into the future
as far as human eye could see

Her cheek once pale and thin
now rosy red and flushing
in the northern night
her spirit deeply dawning
in the dark of hazel eyes
her body shaken with a sudden
storm of sighs—

Feelings feelings fearing
they should do me wrong
for I have loved her
o so long

John Lyons

(Based on phrases from Tennyson’s poem, “Locksley Hall”.)


In these times of war


In these times of war
        how precious is silence
language is overrated
        words words words
when what we want
        is human warmth
a gentle touch
        a relaxed smile
for time to flow
        uninterrupted by
extraneous sound

In these times of war
        it’s love that will
pull us through
        and the courage
that love brings
        to our hearts and
to our resolve
        for birds to return
to the city centre
        for palpable peace
to reign

        in the silence

John Lyons

Spain – Take this chalice from me

If Spain falls

sons of warriors, just for now,
hush your voices, since Spain’s energy at this very moment
is being parcelled out among the animal kingdom,
tiny flowers, comets and humankind.
Hush your voices, for she is
close to death, which is very grave, not knowing
where to turn, and there in her hand
the skull spouting words words words
the skull, the braided skull,
the skull, the skull of life!

Hush your voices, I beg you;
Hush your voices, the syllables of song, the weeping
of matter and the slightest murmur from the pyramids, and even
from those temples that walk with two stones!
Hush your breath, and if
your forearm droops,
if the vicious rulers ring out, if it is night,
if the heavens are squeezed between two terrestrial limbos,
if there’s noise in the sound of doors,
if I delay,
if you see no one, if you are afraid
of blunt pencils, if mother
Spain falls — you know, I’m just saying —
go out, children of the earth, go out and find her!

Above is a fragment from a poem by the great, antifascist Peruvian poet, César Vallejo (1892-1938), written during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). The parallels with the violent Russian assault on Ukraine, which jeopardises the security of the whole of Europe, are all too clear. Translation by John Lyons.

Blue door

Blue door

      Blue door, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

If I told you
If I told
If I told you
would you like it
would you ?

A play not on words
but a play in words
In space words
In time words

If I found them
my feelings
If I found them
and if I told you
If I told
would you like it
would you ?

Played out
in rooms
bed and

One door leads
to another
and another
and another
all our lives
windows and doors

One door
on either side
entrance and exit
coming and going
first to last

If I told you
If I told
If I told you
would you like it
would you ?

John Lyons


Bolero – Julio Cortázar

    Green mountain, John Lyons (40 x 40 cm, oil on canvas)

What vanity to imagine
I can give you everything, love and happiness,
itineraries, music, toys.
It’s true this is how it is:
all I have, I give to you, it’s true,
but all I have is not enough for you
just as it’s not enough for you to give me
all you have.

So we’ll never be
the perfect couple, the picture postcard,
if we’re unable to accept
that only in arithmetic
does one plus one make two.
Scribbled on a scrap of paper
that merely says:
You were always my mirror,
What I mean is, I had to look at you to see myself.

And this fragment:

The slow machine of disaffection
the gears of reflux
bodies that abandon the pillows,
the sheets the kisses 

and standing before the mirror each one
no longer facing each other
no longer naked for each other
I no longer love you,
my love.

Julio Cortázar

(translation by John Lyons)

Seeds turn to summer


Seeds turn
to summer
in silence

the harsh winds
despite the hard

seeds turn
to summer
in silence

green shoots
thrust up through
the damp soil
into the open air
to feed on the light

out of the damp dark earth
sweet pea and nasturtium
marigold and sunflower
calendula and forget-me-not
every colour under the sun

seeds turn
to summer
in silence

the germ of life
the germ of love

all that was buried
will flower again

John Lyons

Drawn to the light

At night in the forest in Tikal
        when it rained, clouds of termites
took shelter in our huts : we had
        only candlelight and the insects
blinded by its heartless beauty swirled
        around the flaming wicks

Some of these frail creatures
        with their long thin paper wings
were instantly singed, and dropped
        helplessly onto the table
while others self-immolating
        were burnt almost to a cinder
as they smothered
        the murderous flame

and in the darkness
        in the silence, the dense
whirling cloud flew off
        leaving the charred remains
of their dead in the cold
        congealed wax

John Lyons

Spring offensive

Buy large flowering crocus bulbs Crocus Mixed Colours: £6.99 Delivery by  Crocus


Seed and bulb
        sown on the lawns
of yesteryear
        to flower
in February to signal
        a tentative spring

frail crocuses
        whisps of colour
lilac and lavender
        purple and cream
here today and gone

in a world
        of permanent change
where beauty
        is ever present
but never lasts :
        only lovers are
dressed for the

All hail!

John Lyons