Pablo Neruda – Sonnet 44


You’ll be aware that I do and don’t love you
since there are two modes to life,
the word is a wing of silence,
and there’s a cold side to fire.

I love you in beginning to love you
to reengage in what is infinite
and so as never to stop loving you:
that’s why I still don’t love you.

I do and don’t love you as though I held
in my hands the keys to happiness
and an uncertain fate of unhappiness.

My love has two lives with which to love you,
that’s why I do love you when I don’t
and why I do love you when I do too.

Pablo Neruda

From One Hundred Love Sonnets

Translation by John Lyons


In praise of petunias


The violet, white and pink flowers
of the petunia      a hardy plant from
     the tobacco species

The roots of its name derive
from the tupi-guarani
language of Brazil in which
     pety signifies tobacco

It reached Europe
in the mid-16th century
whence petun an old
     French word for tobacco

Its unassuming beauty
rises up through the light
into the air  :  its powerful
scent was believed
     to ward off evil spirits

Though petunia flowers are
symbols of anger and resentment
they are also a symbol of comfort
     and feeling good with someone

John Lyons


The Tower

                  St Leonard’s Tower, West Malling

The Tower

Hot sun

Tinging the grey rag-stone

With gold.

Standing proud against,

A blue, blue

Perfect sky.

The sound of thrushes

In the surrounding parched trees,

Two buzzards wheel overhead.

Ancient stones

Laid down long ago,

By men from history

Gundulph or Odo of Bayeaux,

The detail is lost,

In the realms of time.

Casting its shadow

Over the valley

Of long lost hop fields,

And orchards now depleted

Of their succulent fruit.

Molly Rosenberg

For other poems by Molly Rosenberg search “Molly”

Love that sets the path

Light that reaches back
to the origin of light
the original species
of light from which
all emanates

Has time ever stood still ?
Has movement ever ceased ?
The universe that expands
within our minds
within our hearts
all energy recycled
all growth turned
to advantage

So too love
in all its leisure
and our internal life
governed by purpose
and by attraction
by what we call desire
the passion that fires up
the humbled penitent soul
to action

Love that reaches back
into all our yesterdays
Love that sets the path
for all our days to come

John Lyons

Two pigeons

I’m sitting in the sun
watching two pigeons perform
        synchronised flying : their wings
almost touching : their wings
        never touching

Such perfect control at every
        sudden twist and turn : as
though they had trained
        for days for months : or
ever since birth : impossible
        to know their age : or whether
before they completely
        found their wings they were
ever clumsy : bumping into
        each other in awkward flight

I’m sitting in the garden
        sun beating on my face
wondering why the rest of us
        make such hard work
of moving around
        each other

John Lyons

Too many to mention

Time draws on
        but what of our memories
what of our dreams ?
        Night stretches into day
and in the mirror I notice
        new lines etched
while I slept

All my past is in that face
        and what’s left of me
is there too

I write and I paint
        the subjects of my life
the moments of my life
        the lips and the hair on her head
the memory of all those kisses
        the knowledge that nothing
is ever lost

Trees I have known from birth
        are still there : oaks and birches
and sycamores and laburnums
        will all outlive me

though age is no accomplishment
        survival of the fittest means little
quite a different matter
        are the paths we tread
the paths we have trodden
        and the indelible memories
of love sweet love

how our hands met
        how our eyes locked
into one another
        how slowly but surely
we began to share
        the same breath

lines cut deeply
        blood-rich memories
curated in our beating hearts
        to have tasted paradise
made it all worthwhile

        too many to mentioned
but not you

John Lyons

A view from my room

A clear day and no memories
        I see the tall overgrown grass
bathed in the grey light and
        here and there the stems
of dandelions waiting for the sun
        before they’ll unfold their flowers
: birds are flying overhead
        but there is complete silence

As the wind rises the branches
        of the trees at the end of the garden
begin to sway to its rhythm
        The picnic table is littered
with dry faded blossom and the empty
        wooden chairs have that forlorn
abandoned look as though none of us
        had ever been here before

John Lyons

Let innocence age

Let innocence age
        how light travels
through the decades
        a young child
on a suburban train
        gazes at me
        across the cosmos
down the tunnel
        of time
seeing his origins
        in reverse

Those early years
        of which so little
is remembered
        life’s preamble
barely off hands
        and knees
and how the hands
        themselves vie
with the eyes
        in the search
for understanding
        and palpable love

John Lyons