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Michael Shepherd

(8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

0004 M i n d

and mind might ask,
why then are brain cells gray? Is it
because the world is just
so wonderful, that they, stunned
and amazed, cannot decide
which colour to praise first?
(Mix all the colours of the paints,
and the result is gray.)

or is it because they feel themselves
so dull in comparison
with the miracle which is creation,
the miracle they (miracles themselves) , faithful, serve?
(Mix all the colours of the spectrum,
and the result is white.)

or is it, because they know
their work lies between ultimates
such as (do they themselves
call them this?) black,
and white? do they know
their work is equity –
to balance all things, so that gray is not gray
as we use gray for worldly metaphor; but

the gray of lakes at peace;
of silver that lives in itself,
needing no sun but its own innerness;
mercury that is moved but longs
to be united in a perfect sphere;
gray of clouds that know
the blessings that they hold;

and, the shining gray of mind -
for which gray hair is living metaphor,
the wisdom which life holds in store for you -
as how many poets, this moment round the world,
are joining new electric paths of thought between
these tiny, great gray worm-like cells which hide, compact,
their vast and inner space which spins out eager words
of metaphor, for that so nameless,
boundless, dazzling spectrum,
the radiant space of self?

Submitted: Monday, November 06, 2006
Edited: Wednesday, November 03, 2010

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  • Scarlett Treat (11/15/2006 10:41:00 AM)

    Like Alison, I love the gray hair, and the wisdom that it has brought me! And the silver sheen of the lakes and rivers, and the dull gray of the sky today as it pours much needed rain down on us! How wonderfully you have brought gray to us! (Report) Reply

  • Alison Cassidy (11/7/2006 12:49:00 AM)

    Oh Michael, I read your words and think about my boyish silver gray hair that I enjoy so much more than the chaotic dark mane of earlier years. Perhaps some of the grey has accompanied a new maturity that allows me to understand and share the boundless wisdom of your words. Interestingly, I was listening to some erudite professor on the ABC the other morning and she said that the gray cells are not gray at all, but like rather dirty white toothpaste. Ah, give me the metaphor of the poet any day! I love your humble enquiry and your eloquence.
    Allie xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Report) Reply

  • Original Unknown Girl (11/6/2006 6:57:00 AM)

    What a wondrous poem you wrote here, all the shades of grey that there ever was and so eloquently woven into your prose. Loving it Michael! HG: -) xxx (Report) Reply

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