Peter Russell

(1921-2003 / Bristol)

The Witness - Poem by Peter Russell

Sleep and the Cornstalk
What am I?
Boy on a walk
The life of a fly

Girl with battledore
Mother with Child
Pillar of Law
Or Father mild

Told to seek charity
But is there time?
Rather to prophesy
Than make a rhyme

I am estranged
Many do sleep
All shall be changed
Most shall weep

Sown in dishonor
In corruption buried
A watery cloud on a
Glass ocean ferried

Well may I ask
What am I?
To knock, my Task -
Not how, but why

Myself a wall
In front of me
Dividing all

I'm sown in nature
Raised in Spirit
Born a creature
Shorn of merit

An infant whole
I am divided
I speak my role
I am derided

Let the world laugh
I am the corn
Wheat, not the chaff
Shall be reborn

I am asleep now
All in parts
Let me but reap now
Mortal arts

A seed in earth
A wandering boy
Dead from my birth
Must I destroy?

A little fly
Brushed by a hand
I prophesy
To a dead land

All but alone
In multitudes
I weep and moan
The deadly feuds

Sown I must grow
Disperse the vapour
Clear must grow
Like Easter taper

I have learnt
I am the damp
The air that's burnt
Around the lamp

Not I the flame
That lights the dark
The priceless name
That floats the Ark

Over the sea go
Into the West
The white rainbow
Of Abram's breast

First let me sicken
I'll testify
Then I shall quicken
And so die.

Not my own voice
Shall speak the words
That say Rejoice
But rather birds

Whose every song
Age after age
Ne'er a note wrong
Outdoes the Sage

Time and the bone
Are but aside
The dull stone
Is all alive

Glitters like gold
On serpent's crest
Speaks as of old
When all was blest

The walls fall down
The darkness flies
Space is flown
All's angels' eyes

I will sleep now
Soon I'll wake
In my dream-show
Life remake

See the Tree
From top to root
Dazzling me
With golden fruit

I was born
I did grow
When I'm gone
We shall know

How and why
And when and what
Rise on high
Heirs of God…

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, May 20, 2014

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