So too the angels

So too the angels

Purity of breath
           stripped of time
stripped of place
           no here or now
no looking on
           being not
in the moment
being the moment
           free from past
free from future
           intensity of the moment
that destroys time
           lovers locked
in an eternal embrace
           the fox has no plans
lives on the edge
           of its instincts
knows no failure
           bids nothing farewell

so too the angels
           who move silently among us
pure light unseen
           pure uncorrupted life
           unfathomable life
the unfolding flower
           that never fades

John Lyons


The poetics of dream

The poetics of dream

Never has space
           flight of birds
flight of angels
           aerial distance
the poet’s mind
           eyed from a castle
or from a tower
           in Sligo

the act ever
the arrow speeding
           through the air
how thoughts soar
           carried on the wind
a child’s kite
           with unending string

never has space
           and within it love
the heartfelt impulse
           flight of fancy
eclipsing all fear
           never has space
known such a time
           as now and then

John Lyons

Die Poetik des Traums

Hat nie Platz
           Flug der Vögel
Flug der Engel
der Geist des Dichters
           von einer Burg aus gesehen
oder von einem Turm
           in Sligo

die Tat immer
Der Pfeil beschleunigt
           durch die Luft
wie Gedanken steigen
           im Wind getragen
Drachen eines Kindes
           mit endloser Schnur

hat nie Platz
           und Liebe darin
der warme Impuls
           Flug der Fantasie
alle Angst in den Schatten stellen
           hat nie Platz
eine solche Zeit bekannt
           wie jetzt und dann


Sonnets to Orpheus – Rainer Maria Rilke

Sonnet 2

And it was almost a girl that emerged

And it was almost a girl that emerged
from that happy coincidence of song and lyre
who shone clearly through her spring veil
and laid herself down to rest in my ear.
And she slept within me. And her sleep was all.
All the trees I’ve ever admired, those
palpable distances, those meadows known to me
and every moment that ever astounded me.
She slept the world. O God of song how did you
arrange that she should have no desire,
to be woken first? See, how she rose and slept.
Where is her death? O will you continue to invoke
this motif before your song is done? –
Where does it fade to within me? … Almost a girl …

Rainer Maria Rilke
(translation by John Lyons)


Und fast ein Mädchen war’s und ging hervor

Und fast ein Mädchen war’s und ging hervor
aus diesem einigen Glück von Sang und Leier
und glänzte klar durch ihre Frühlingsschleier
und machte sich ein Bett in meinem Ohr.
Und schlief in mir. Und alles war ihr Schlaf.
Die Bäume, die ich je bewundert, diese
fühlbare Ferne, die gefühlte Wiese
und jedes Staunen, das mich selbst betraf.
Sie schlief die Welt. Singender Gott, wie hast
du sie vollendet, dass sie nicht begehrte,
erst wach zu sein? Sieh, sie erstand und schlief.
Wo ist ihr Tod? O, wirst du dies Motiv
erfinden noch, eh sich dein Lied verzehrte? —
Wo sinkt sie hin aus mir?… Ein Mädchen fast ….

Layers of love

Troubled waters, John Lyons (20 x 30 cm, oil on canvas)

Layers of love

Snow fell as they tramped 
through the empty streets
of Berlin

What was in their hearts
protected them

from the bitter cold

And as they passed hand in hand
beneath the Brandenberg Gate 
they felt invincible 

Life is often what lies beneath
a landscape in which
layers of love
have been laid to rest 

John Lyons

Work in progress

Work in progress

Who would think
           to count the stars
in the firmament
           or to weigh the universe
in the palm of his hand ?
           Such is the mystery of life
that it defies explanation
           is not open to calculus
or to reason and yet
            is the only thing
that makes sense
           all else emptiness
devoid of meaning
           lacking in purpose

When the sun set
           Rilke closed his eyes
and had a dream
           a ladder reaching up
to the heavens
           with shrieking angels 
running up and down
           until day broke
and the scene faded
           in his eyes but not
in his mind : that country
           from which none return
but the question is :
           Why would they ?

For years I have watched
           as the apple blossoms fell
as the fruit ripened
           on the branch and fell too
as swallows flew
           north and south
and notched another year 
           but I have never lost faith
in the poetics of love
           the binding of words
that come together
           and shape our lives
Everything is a work
           in progress
everything driven
           by starlight
all else emptiness
           all else lost forever

John Lyons

Cry of angels

Cry of angels

Language that developed
           out of deep need
that breath breathed into life
           words by which our thoughts
are fleshed out
           place where word and deed
coalesce and shape our lives
           passionate palpitating texts
soundscape wordscape
           of our day-to-day significance

the sense and sensibility of it
           snow flurries on a northern hillside
flakes forever frozen
           for all time captured
sight and sound recordings
           of how good it feels to be alive
to live in the warmth of another’s love
           out of the deep need
to give and to partake
           to annotate the cry of angels
an eye spy upon the world
           and to feel through what we see
to turn a deft hand to love
           to pursue the heady heart
to celebrate with the pulse
           of rhythm our soulful kinship

and how one body latches
           onto another for all time
a kiss at the point of creation
           what rises out of the mist
the perfect synthesis of light
           beauty’s truth
the poetry of it all
           the timed theme of our life
the ardent renewal
           of the face of the earth
all wordthings in
           immeasurable motion
in ecstatic dance
           until our dying day

John Lyons