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I used to write poetry when I was young. I don't think much of it now but I reproduce some of it below for what interest it might have.


POEMS by John Ray


THE DWINDLING HORROR OF DEATH

Death comes not suddenly
To aged men and those who fade away
But comes on ploddingly
Expected but ignored for former days


The scene of life
Once broad and hued with many hopes and fears
Is no more rife
With dreams, but narrowed down to cares more near


Ideals give place
To narrow cares and thoughts of comfort now
The calm old face
Expects the death to which it shortly bows


The fear of death
Runs in the veins of those who have not done
With every breath
The things they would. Their race is yet to run.


The young in mind
Alone, see horror, fear and loss in death
The old in mind
Expect in calm the end of failing breath


MILDNESS


Gentle and calm
Purity charms
Goodness thrives
In well-spent lives


Tradition guides
Ancestral pride
To humble ways Through quiet days


Brashness leaps --
But soon must creep
To try to gain
The way again


Goodness is wisdom
Good taste is freedom.


HAIKU

Plants must defend us
From ugly efficiency
And lonely sameness.


DEFIANCE (Sonnet)


Fine was the knight of old with fatal mace.
That fighting breed has left a lasting trace
On our ancient, ever nascent British race
Expressed in business, battle or the chase.
When pressed we know we'll always set the pace,
Be commerce, fighting or any endeavour the race.
Our heritage we never could debase
By any act that e'er could bring disgrace
So let us present crises far outface
Try not our steps long past now to retrace
With glories past, "Alertness now" replace.
For a fighting future minds and hearts strong brace
That we may turn to all a happy face
Successful still and pressing on apace.


ON ENCOUNTER WITH A PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONARY


"The Locker at the Queen's Warehouse"
The locker of the Queen
Ancient servant of his sovereign
Doing an old, old and needed job
He carries around a ring of keys
And wears a suit of dark blue serge
Man of men who guards the goods
Of her mighty Majesty.
Reaching out with strongest hand
She brings into her store
Some of all the varied things
Her subjects buy and earn
Ancient institution of our people
Giving to one the power for peace
The guardianship of self and nation
The Royal decree benignantly functions
To bring to order all our world.


TO A GAMBLER

What means this bold and hopeful land
On which in fantasy you stand?
Perhaps you'll find that all you planned
Was built on fatal shifting sand
And all was wrecked by Fortune bland.
Put not your hope in her mad hand.



POETRY (Curtal sonnet)
What is this poetry we know
As something all wise men admire
Some think it always metre shows
Some of rhyme will never tire
Is it simply pretty show Or something than mere thoughts much higher
The poem always shows true feeling
Emotion always in it flows
Of all our verbal splendour sire
It brings to mind and heart whole healing



WHITENESS
I see the colour purest white
Joy and splendour of all our sight
To monk and poet too the flight
To glory true of moral right
In loveliness of purity fair dight
The colour too of those contrite
Who find in goodness only lasting might
The ideal too of those who fight
The horrors evil of moral night
That rests on man a lasting blight
In wonder soaring like a kite
To heaven high in glory bright


BATS

Strange animals of leather
Living in an alien element
Like us, just mammals
But much more versatile.
You fly -- we walk
Concept challenging!
Perhaps we too
Can equal your success
Are our limits self-made?
You bats show much greater achievement
In your furry dignified selves.


STRANGE BEAUTY

The flung spray from speeding wheels
The sudden thumping shock
As cars hit great pools
Of water on the road


The swollen pride of gutters
With their great slow head of water
Slowly swirling their heavy weight
Through long meanders to the sea


The well-fed pannikin grass
Dips and lisps in luxuriant health
So green, so white its frosty hairs
It crowds together where water flows

The dismay of the tired gardener
As the insidious plucking fingers
Of flooding creep across his yard
Drowning plants with a week-long stay


The delight of the gold-haired child
As she jumps and runs and talks
Kept home dry by parental decree But sneaks out to splash and to swim


The insidious stealthy cats
Who leave their allotted home downstairs
To creep upstairs, piteously wet
To seek compassion in the human home


Such is my home, the town of Cairns
In those long, slow, fresh days
Of pouring rain we know so well
As -- "The wet season", "The rain".


THE GUITAR

The trilling beauty quivers
Soft, limpid in the heavy air
Rising, falling, crying, laughing
Reaching across from heart to heart


Now shrill it protests
Vibrant as some great heart
Beating in eternal rebellion
At the failures of life


Softly contemplating plaintively
The sadness of life
And finding its answer
In unvoiced song


SWEET MUSIC

Ting tong, tingtong
The air melts in song
The song of sad happiness
The song of old sadness


Slow, fast, slowfast
The word of the last
Man on earth singing
A song heavenwards winging.


PENSIERI D'UN AMMALATO (Fever thoughts)

The vivid sensuous
Reality of things -- Things like,
Yellow flowers
Mauve weeds
"Cobblers pegs" -- symmetrical,
Beautiful, yellow & brown


The marks in a dry gutter --
Real, existent, human.
The warmth of an autumn sun --
Penetrating, revealing, purifying


A torpor of warmth
An old man's world
Fresh with eternal wonder at life
The works of man --
Seeming so permanent, Are permanent.
They exist, are solid --
Not a-priori


Debate and striving do not exist
Feverish anxiety, ratiocination and ardour
Do not exist
Things exist
Green leaves
Yellow flowers
Grey stones
Mottled bitumen
Old sticks
Dry leaves
The loving sun
Breeze in the trees
Patterns in tiled steps
Galvanized iron sheds
And tired old fences


They do not oppress us
Worry us
Challenge us
Thwart us
Or cause us to work


The demon oppresses us
Worries us
Challenges us
And causes us to work
The demon in us, the demon self


He is gone now When we are sick he retires
He cannot use us then
We are no more ambitious
Challenging, striving, working and reasoning
We just want to get well
Then things are
We accept all
Preconceptions go
And the world seems different
We experience reality directly --
For its own sake
We cease to interpret
We cease to ask if it is:
Efficient, right, beautiful or successful.
We accept it
And feel it well up about us,
Friendly, warming, part of us, united with us


Affected by us as we by it.
We feel time's fellowship
And change with it.
We exist, satisfy our nature
And change to our final death.
All things about us are like that
Death is not meaningless or to be feared.
It is the utter nothingness against which
We appreciate the warmth and contentment
Of reality and existence


Today we exist
The winds blow and the smoke rises
The river flows and children laugh
Being is its own reason.


SONNET FOR JANET

I've never met a sweeter girl than Jan,
With her modest, mild and unassuming ways,
And joy of life that nothing seems to faze:
An active mind that every concept spans
And thoughts that only good do ever plan.
Maturity so young that must amaze
In a whirling world, she's never dumb or dazed.
A treasure then to have for any man.


And Jan I love your restless hazel eyes
And your long and lustrous red and golden hair
Yet so young you're still so worldly wise:
A woman true who all things once will dare.
In your Roman nose is pride that never dies
And your heart is pure as your supple skin is fair.

4.4.1965




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