One of the chief enhancements to this house

Is the number of doors. Many of them look much the same

The cupboard and bedroom doors are similar

Providing opportunity for sexual farce

One door leads to the busy street and people passing;

One into a garden awash with colours

And shapes. This one under the stairs, I have to admit,

Opens on to a sight that isn’t pretty:

I cleared it only a month ago, but somehow

From somewhere the muck has all piled up again.

Now this one used to lead to the spare bedroom

But opening it last week I found it led

Down a long tunnel, into a hidden river

Echoing with voices and the sound of waves

Until I came to a thorny, craggy country

And then a spring that bubbled over pebbles

Silvered with something like the light of sunrise.

Now I have drunk and travelled back by river

And tunnel and dark and death to this old house

I can move out. The fixtures are included

The street is right out there and wanders on.


Not a commentary on this poem, but I wanted to find space for it and didn’t think it worth a post of its own: I’d like to thank Neel and Caddo who nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger award.

This wasn’t simple for me. I’m a Quaker. Quakers enjoy lots of things to the full (wine, women, song, men, mountaineering, amateur dramatics, that sort of thing) but they avoid honours, distinctions and titles. That was actually my own gut feeling before I found it was a Quaker tradition. If you do something valuable, that should be its own reward (unless, of course, you earn your living from that activity, in which case a bit of money comes in handy).  So in general, I’d avoid awards.

But was it really an award? Perhaps not, as no-one was judging it. It seems to be a way of cheering up other bloggers by saying you like their posts. But I can do that anyway by comments or, in some cases, hitting LIKE. I value the encouragement I’ve had from Neel, Caddo, The Northern Plights, Christy and others, but just the odd positive comment suits me fine. Another problem with the award was the requirement to nominate 15 other bloggers – quite time-consuming and I didn’t have 15 names to quote. It seemed a bit artificial to go out and look for new blogs  so I could add more names. I’m finding new blogging friends steadily at a pace that suits me.

So – Neel and Caddo: I would certainly have nominated you, but you’ve been nominated anyway by others. I’ll stand back from this one.


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  1. Caddo Veil

     /  January 11, 2012

    Dear Simon–I love your poem, and I appreciate and respect the things you said in your non-acceptance speech. I didn’t realize that part of Quakerism, or wouldn’t have intruded on your beliefs. By now, most people know I was leery of awards at the beginning–but I’ve had quite the revelation about them: it’s not the awards, per se, it’s what HAPPENS when you accept and pass them on (sincerely, not to fill up a list). Hearing that you’ve touched/moved people in deep intangible ways raises you, if only temporarily, from the daily sludge of humanity. It has motivated me to continue to be gracious, and spend the time to write a speech, compile the lists…But it’s all in how you see it. May God richly bless you today. Your continuing “fan”, Caddo

    • Thanks, Caddo. I really value your encouragement, especially as your own poetic skills are so advanced. The last thing I wanted to do through my awards comment was to embarrass you and Neel! I really do value the thought.

      There is a strong tradition of “Quaker simplicity”. At times, especially the 18th century, this has been interpreted in stereotyped ways – rigorously plain and simple clothes starting with time to look out-dated so they became a kind of dull uniform – but we’ve long abandoned that blind alley while remembering the principle behind it – that among Friends especially, you should not claim superiority through things like new, expensive clothes – or cars. The root of it is equality before God and the kinship of Friends before God. It explains what now seems an odd quirk, the Quaker dislike of titles being extended to Mr, Mrs, Ms and the rest – because in the 17th century when Quakers began, Mr, for example, was a version of “Master” and implied some social status: a landowner or a ship’s captain would be “Mr Smith”, but a servant or a seaman would be “Smith”. We generally have no problem with titles that explain your role, though, as it has practical value to know that he is Sergeant, she is Doctor or he is Councillor.

      • How very educational these connections are–thank you! I only knew one Quaker, and that only by correspondence (actual letters mailed with stamps)–he is a pastor and author, but I’ve completely forgotten his name. The book (fiction) series has the word “Harmony” in it–if that helps, and you’re interested in looking for him. Wonderful “light” novels that poke a little fun at our human foibles.

        My goodness–you think my poetry skills are “advanced”? Sounds so lofty–but on the other hand, I’ve been “doing” poetry for about 50 years, so I hope I’m advancing. Wonderful to chat with you, Simon! God bless you today–abundantly!!

      • Interesting, Caddo. In the UK, in line with historic Quakerism, we have no clergy, so no pastors. I think I heard that there was a group of Quakers in America who had taken on clergy. I’m afraid searching for “Harmony” would be unlikely to find me your guy, but if you remember his name, even only vaguely, do let me know!

  2. Words open doors….. I started blogging with a great deal of reluctance and now I find there are people who read POEMS A LOT. Guess awards are part of blog etiquette….taking it or not is a choice that the blogger has to make. Unfortunately I will nominate you again if I have to….your poems are that GOOD( to put it mildly:)) Thanks Simon!

    • Thanks, Neel. I’ve discovered some excellent poets, from India to North America – and that’s only the ones writing in English!

    • I agree, Neel–it’s not like folks are going to be arrested if they don’t accept the awards. Unless they’ve told me to “cease and desist”, I’ll keep nominating my faves!

  3. You didn’t think it was worth a post of its own? It took me by surprise and made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

    • Hi, Judy! That’s high praise of the poem. I’m honoured.

      I didn’t mean the poem wasn’t worth a post on its own. I meant the reaction to the blogger award wasn’t. Thanks.


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