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The Poems of John Stewart
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:53 pm    Post subject: The Poems of John Stewart Reply with quote

This is from his collection 'Observations and Thoughts'. John, being so laid back, I asked him if I could put a few of his poems on the forum. "Yes, why not?" was his laconic reply. Why not indeed? But which one to start? Start where the book opens, they are all wonderful. I apologize for the lack of central pagination which John favours, but this antiquated system doesn't seem to have that facility.


ZEN

No e-mails, no electronic in-tray for three days.
The world has switched the light out. What's going on out there?
I ring up my provider. A young man answers: a human voice.
Relief is instant, but his questions leave me spinning.
It's not his fault.
Thankfully, he's got a ph.D in patience.
I do this, then that. It seems to take an age.
What button?. There is no button. Yes there is; I've found it at the back.
Click this, click that: This could be dangerous.
I might start WW III!
But the patient voice would never tell me I'm deranged!
Suddenly, the emails pop - one, two, three, four, five.
The lights are on again.
The world is back to life. There's someone out there.
Then there always was.
And you don't have to click.
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Alan Edward Roberts



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:06 am    Post subject: Zen Reply with quote

Thanks Peter - and thanks John!

I await eagerly/patiently for the next of John's poems.

Alan
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Holding Back

Not to speak, because the ego’s fearful of its reputation
Is a timidity that frustrates our freedom.
Far better to reveal our thinking, brave both visible, or imagined scorn,
And climb above this petty place to one of clearer vision.
Only by reflection and debate within the company of those intent on truth,
Will truth reveal herself.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For fans of John Stewart's verse here are three of his latest. I particular admire his poem on eternity which elegantly doffs its hat towards my favourite Plato dialogue, Timaeus, though his beautiful descriptions of snowflakes are equally beguiling.

1.

Snowflake

Away from the busy High Street, the cul du sac was quiet.
It was snowing, large flakes on a windless afternoon,
Softly, noiselessly the snowflakes fell,
Melting when they met the ground.
Wave by wave they fell;
A quiet undemanding presence, yet so intimate.
The close and silent whisper of a friend.
(JS January)

2.

Snowfall

The fine snow falls relentlessly on a windless afternoon.
It has no preference: it covers all.
Passively the trees accept what comes,
As do the hedges.
What a wonderland. No detail is forgotten.
The smallest twig, the mighty sinews of the leafless trees:
All are covered with impartial diligence.
Detail abounds, yet held within a single all embracing white.
How still it is. No planes above, no trains, and traffic noises are subdued
The fine and gentle flakes keep falling.
Smoothing the distorting marks that humans make.
Before me is a crow, shiny black and awkward as it burrows in the snow;
To find a tasty worm perhaps.
It staggers on like some intoxicated reveller.
I feel for it. It has no thermal vest, nor can it switch the heater on.
Where does it go to shelter, for all about are leafless trees?
Suddenly it flies away,
Lifting its substantial body high above the houses and the trees close by,
To join its fellows on a journey, no one knows, but they.
And still the snow keeps falling.

(JS January)

3.


How can Eternity have a Beginning?


How can Eternity have a beginning?
The mind cannot venture there.
And reason will not answer.
Even Plato’s moving image of eternity
The name he gives creation.
Even here, is there a moment of beginning?
After all it is an image of Eternity,
In which the concept of beginning and of end
Would contradict Eternity.
Our modern age seems to treat the “big bang” as a fact.
The Higgs particle and Cern’s enormous cost.
Proves we hold such concepts dear.
Plato said: The eternal alone is true;
The temporal only seems to be.
How can eternity have a beginning?

JS 22nd January 2013
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Masterly meditational verse from John Stewart.


A Silent Good.

These words spoke, standing tall amidst the mundane chatter in the mind;
A flower spontaneous in the desert air.
The words are strangely stilling; their meaning spelled in practice we might say.
Who is their author?
No answer comes.
So the question must remain,
To beckon by the door of mystery.
(JS 4th February)


On pondering A Silent Good.

At the core of stillness is The Good,
Is this the way it is?
Is this the crock of gold we seek?
If so, it’s close.
The trouble is we search for it,
And, in the very searching, it seems that we frustrate our hope.
For we disturb the surface of the lake,
When all we need to do is let the surface find its mirror rest.
(JS 6th February 2013.)

My

Briefly ‘my’ was absent. It simply happened.
A sidelong glance when freedom showed herself:
And how revealing of our automatic claims.
The warp and weft of ego.
My this, my that: the rest is other.
Yet, we seem to need this ‘my’
To differentiate the world of flesh and blood.
But does ‘my’ need to rule within the mind?
For, if it does, the realm of unity must withdraw
To let us labour with our ‘my’devices.
(JS 16th February)

Richmond Park

The air was cold. There was little doubt of that.
Yet the Sun’s light seemed to lend a softness to the scene.
An early herald of the coming Spring perhaps,
Or maybe just the hopeful cast of human expectation?
For the ground was bleak: a lifeless devastation being prevalent.
Again, persistent heavy rain had fathered shallow lakes,
Yet, despite all this, there was a presence and a smile of promise.
Like the swarming of an army, the Deer had gathered and were on the move.
Proud, majestic came the leaders, their antlers high:
There were seven, maybe more in singles file.
Then came their wives and children.
Did they sense the promise?
Maybe they’re tuned to senses that we’ve long neglected.
There is no place to park. So frustrated and, with cars behind and to the front,
My aged Rover soldiers on towards Sheen gate.
Outside the park the light still lends its charm.
It has, of course, no preference, no special place to shine.
(JS 20th February 2013)
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fog

Tall pines reaching upwards as if in competition;
Fog pervading like a whispered mystery.
Stillness is tangible. It arrests attention,
And the sense of presence grows.
Forms are secondary.
They are exactly where they are,
But the presence is intense: it knows no edge, no limit.
Later when the mind reflects a sense of innocence is enjoyed,
A carefree state measured with an effortless discretion.
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Sat May 25, 2013 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It Happened Again.

It happened again.
This creature walking was without the usual comfort of familiar thoughts
While seeing all, it seemed a stranger to itself.
The road was wet and shining in the street-light’s beam.
Yet the creature seemed apart and unattached.
The memory puzzles me and still remains a puzzle.
Again it happened,
Like a sidelong glance.
Who was this being who had spent his early years in County Down,
And ended up in London;
And who had travelled here and there about the world?
Who was this creature with his load of thoughts
That he assumed, and still assumes, himself to be?
Is he such stuff as dreams are made on?*
Who is he?
St Francis said:
What we are looking for is what is looking
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A heptad of excellent poems from the growing portfolio of John Stewart.

A Living Presence

A clean and living presence made the simplest objects seem alive.
All somehow had their dignity, their place in space.
To move, it seemed, would shatter the illusion.
But was it an illusion, or how it is
When we are free from all consuming thought?
How busy we can be:
Our endless thinking coursing back and forth,
Making in its passage trails that quite obscure our mental sky.
Oh for a quiet mind whose crystal stillness shines.

JS 27th May 2013

Creation’s Dance


Music sounding in a silent mind shines without distraction.
It’s articulate in its detail.
How well it’s heard when Mozart, acting like a mirror to creation’s dance,
Plays the strings of nature,
With the deftness and the faultless touch,
That only union with the fountain spring can know

JS 9th June 2013


The Town Fox


It’s Sunday morning six am on the seventh of July,
And yesterday’s heat-wave figures wait to be renewed.
From the first floor window I scan the silent scene.
Suddenly the idyll is disturbed by squawking crows,
As they disappear within a nearby tree’s green cloak.
And there’s a fox rolling on the grass.
Luxuriating, one might say.
And scratching, how it scratches.
A command performance.
After which it casually saunters off.
Yet very much alert to any hint of alien presence.
A young fox, its coat is near to perfect,
And its tail’s a wonder.
A delightful creature, if you did not know the fox’s reputation.
And that is something that the country-born know well.
No doubt books abound that tell us all about the fox.
But as Dylan Thomas might have added -- do they tell us, why?

JS July 2013

Now

Only now is really now.
For the past is recollected and the future is but speculation.
Then, in what time do we live?
The now, where else?
But, are we truly present in the now?
Or do we live within our own mind’s cast.
Confined to habit and our practiced ways.
The now is free. It has no limits,
Other than the rule of reason
Which looks on all with undivided love.

JS 6th August 2013


The Scent of Rain.

It was very still.
A cooling scent of rain was in the air.
Were the hedges and the trees aware?.
A human gloss perhaps, yet the question did not seem naïve.
How still it was: an all-embracing presence.
Indeed, the watching and the stillness were as one.
The is-ness was palpable.
Every leaf and every flutter of a branch though separate in themselves
Were held within one single undivided union.
Later the rain came.

JS 28th July 2013

Wonderland.

The driveway to the garages,
In the course of human habit,
Had acquired a dull familiarity.
But not today.
The many shades of green
Danced as if in harmony.
It was a wonderland.
Was it the Sun lending the magic of his sparkle?
Yes, it was sunny: a rarity at present.
Yet somehow there was more to it than that.
It wasn’t a projection; a starry eyed creation.
It came to me.
It hit me, so to speak.
It was a wonderland.

JS 25th June 2013

Killinchy Hills
Co Down


A living silence commands attention.
Its intensity holds the sweep of hills
In one united presence.
Its thereness simply is.
Indeed, it is as if, it needs no other.
Wonder is its offspring,
And with this questions rise
That urge the mind to climb beyond familiar ways,
And taste that peace which is beyond our earthbound understanding.

JS 26th August 2013
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They just keep coming. John is wondering if they've put something in his coffee. If they have, I want some!

On Reflection.

A wall of silence brief yet deep and timeless,
A shelter from the busy doing in the world;
Escape from unattended chatter both within the mind and on the lips
A comfort well beyond the sentimental.
A lesson to be heeded.
Yet even here the mind, in tune with habit, briefly turned away,
Until the potent call of memory was obeyed.

JS 18th October 2013

Ever New.

I couldn’t deny it; it was too obvious.
A familiar feeling, yes,-- yet new.
Ever new, compelling.
An all-pervasive stillness, so very present
A whispered intimacy where hedge and bush, it seemed, were wont to speak.

JS 12th October 2013.

The Draw of Simplicity

In this age of busy complication,
It is, as if, we can’t believe that answers can be simple.
A plain statement, self-evident you might think, is hacked about
And often ridiculed as being naïve.
Indeed, the truth itself is seen as little other than a matter of opinion.
In such a world debate is often sterile,
A playground for the nimble rapid talking mind.
But principle being reason’s child is ever waiting
For the quiet mind’s reflection.
And here, if we deserve it,
Someone will stand up to meet the hour.
And draw our convoluted thought towards simplicity.
Where natural harmonising laws hold sway.
And truth is seen as that which ever is.

JS 27th October 2013

The Drain

The Waterloo and City line as it suggests connects the City to the busy rush that’s
Waterloo.
To the regular it simply is the “Drain.”
It’s a one off. It feels apart and not a ‘tube’ somehow.
It simply goes from A to B.
And is a ‘quick escape’ for City types.
To day a train is waiting.
With people rushing for its open doors.
Just a few seats left. I’m lucky.
A young woman alights, tall, elegant, balancing on thin and tapered heels, fashionably
high,
Her skirt is also fashionably short clinging to the contours of a well near perfect form.
Indeed, with her hair falling shoulder length, she’s quite a picture.
I speculate; a PA to some CEO; or maybe, a department head?
Anyway, she gets the last seat.
Then the transformation starts.
Off comes the super highs, and on goes the chunky trainers.
She whisks her hair up at the back and ties it with a careless ease.
Quite a lady.
She has played the City part and now is going home.

JS 22nd October 2013
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John always writes about real things, as the mind and heart see, far beyond what the senses pick up.


Certainty.

When truth is viewed as relative.
Or simply mere opinion,
How can principle be our guide?
For what we deem self-evident is,
Again, reduced to an opinion.
However, when the mind is captured by experience,
And revelation is too evident for facile thought to spurn,
Mere relative opinion cannot hold.
Here, principle is the child of reason.
A reason, which is founded on the rock of truth,
Relative opinion - is not the language of this world.
For truth stands, certain, steadfast and secure

JS December 12th 2013


How does nature do it?
[/size]There was not a breath of wind.
The birds were flying high,
And the sky’s December colours,
Shining through the leafless outline of the trees,
Were exquisite;
A master-class in subtlety.
How does nature do it?
It’s breathtaking.
Nearer to the setting Sun, the colours blaze;
And with what faultless taste.
Yes, how does nature do it?

JS 12th December 2013
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Grace Given

The body was weak and pains about the neck were sharp.
Ego lamented, yet common sense went not unheeded.
Why not use the hot shower to soothe the muscle pains?
Discrimination was obeyed.
Then something very rare and special happened.
The focus of attention suddenly was intense.
A powerful beam that had no place for comment,
The body limbs were simply body limbs.
I, as it were, the witness was single, simple, yet wholly alive.
A dimensionless point defying description.
The intense and single focus of attention was instrumental,
But of a fine and special kind.
There was no place for other or for ego.
The body was not I
And in no way was the usual thinking-self involved.
It was a Grace given.

JS February 2014

Comment Thank you for this, John. It speaks of what is possible in the midst of that which would try to overcome us.

For some reason it brought to mind something I wrote many years ago. I hope you don't mind if I include it with yours'.

I, The Plank

Now only one thing bothers me
Which way do I look, to or from thee?
No other choice can I see
No other route save to or from you
So there can be no more questions
And all dilemma in my heart and mind
Spring from this one double choice;
Yet if I turn all else must fade
But that which is all containing

You are the fulcrum upon which
I, the plank must finely balance
Now only one thing bothers me
Which way do I fall?
Must I obey all that my inertia tells me?
O, ignorant gravity, can you not see
That I may avoid all your commands?
This end you seek, that you seek,
Knowing that if either you gain
All is lost for me
So I shun this one double choice
And nothing do, so all may be


Last edited by Peter Blumsom on Mon May 26, 2014 6:42 am; edited 1 time in total
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Posted by Pete
Three more timeless messages from John.

How Very Fortunate.

After the rushing here and there, the, feasting, and the presents,
The timeless message of the Queen
Brought stilling wakefulness.
The need to balance action with reflection;
The need for prayer and contemplation.
The nations Sovereign was speaking of spiritual depth:
The very essence of Christmas.
How fortunate we are to hear this timeless wisdom
Openly declared with such unassertive humility.
How very fortunate.
There are some, who turn away,
With passion, sheer disdain or mild indifference,
Depending on their colour of belief.
But the Queen’s address had not the slightest breath of criticism.
Rooted in human experience, her words had no pretension.
Their unassertive strength would travel.
They need to travel.
Today we are much troubled with unbending militant belief.
And action balanced by reflection is a crying need.
Passion led by passion is disastrous.
And reason without love is cold.
But action balanced by reflection.
Allows the seeds of our humanity to grow.

JS 26th December 2013


Face to Face

This morning it was dark and blustery, with sudden unpredicted rain.
Then after lunch the Sun came out.
The pure white light arrested me.
It was so very white, without a blemish.
‘You’ve seen it all before’, familiar thoughts repeat.
But have I?
That’s the question.
Is what we see a dull replay of what we’ve seen so many times before?
Absently we take it all for granted, and so we miss the magic.
Is this the way it is?
It’s as if we see the world we have created, from our past impressions and opinions,
A ‘virtual world’, but not the world that’s truly there.
To use familiar lines:
Are we seeing through a glass darkly, instead of face to face?
Is this too harsh a censure?
Perhaps then, we should test the matter,
By observing nature as it is,
In the pure uncluttered glory of the present

JS 27th December 2013


How does nature do it?

There was not a breath of wind.
The birds were flying high,
And the sky’s December colours,
Shining through the leafless outline of the trees,
Were exquisite;
A master-class in subtlety.
How does nature do it?
It’s breathtaking.
Nearer to the setting Sun, the colours blaze;
And with what faultless taste.
Yes, how does nature do it?

JS 12th December 2013
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More verse of the highest quality from John Stewart's prolific pen. John is able to effortlessly link everyday experience with deep poetic contemplation. There are few who can achieve that - even fewer who can do so regularly.


Questions.

Mental chatter is a tedium
That distracts and dulls the mind
Much more, perhaps, than we would dare to think.
Questions, though, can keep the mind alive
Firing it with interest or with mystery.
Questions lend to knowledge penetration,
Releasing wisdom’s words to seek fresh ground of revelation.
When, if grace allows, experience may bring its stamp of certainty.
But. if a tree is just a tree, and we’ve-seen-it-all-before, questions will be dormant.
They will arise though when we stop to look.
For wonder is the prize when we stand with nature face to face.
Then, questions rise to dance before the door of mystery
Where answers come to lift the mind above its sullen earth-bound ways.

JS June 10th 2014
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Peter Blumsom



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Love without an edge.

Can love have any object save the good?
And what or who defines the good?
Here reason must arise to be the guide.
We have, of course, the wisdom of the ages and the poets.
Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds,
The lines of Shakespeare’s famous sonnet are well known.
He also says, it is an ever fixed mark.
If ye love me, keep my commandments, Christ addressed his disciples.
Nothing sentimental here, for the commandments were exacting.
Christ’s compassion on the cross outshines the horror.
The supreme example.
Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
This is the ultimate; the complete obedience to the Father’s will.
Notwithstanding this example, mankind follows its desires,
Making them their gods in daily life.
Where even organised religion is usurped by selfish creeds,
But, when we see our petty aims for what they are,
Their little glory fades.
And further, when the present need is met, as if in secret,
Without the smugness of self-satisfaction.
If this is so, then a sweetness can and does arise.
And that, is never at our bidding.

JS 16th June 2014

Nature’s Mystery

The Sun lights all impartially.
The shadows of the buildings sharp, exact.
The trees are softer in their outline
Moving in the gentle and occasional breeze
The high cloud filters the intensity and is ever changing
While lower puffy clouds float by as if they were being playful.
Another day arrives.
The Sun seems brighter for the glaze of upper cloud has gone. But the puffy ones are
frequent.
The trees hang limp. Then they move a little.
Nothing, it would seem, is ever quite the same.
Whatever we may think nature does not offer duplicates.
For what appears the same is furnished with a host of variations.
Nature is natural, not mechanical.
But in this scientific age our human attitude is often mechanistic,
Science, though, is neutral; it’s we who shape its ways.
Meanwhile nature waits.
What if we approach its wonder with due reverence?
Knowing, that we do not know it all.
Then, respectful of its mystery, and sincere in our intent,
Nature may reveal herself according to the need.
For grace responds to real intent,
And it always knows the hour.

JS 21st June 2014
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