Farewell, Michael …


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‘And I in my dreams, behold the Hesperides

My life has been a questing voyage
Across eternal seas,
In search of the golden apples
And the heart’s own Isles of Ease.

They lie beyond the Western realms
Or somewhere there afar,
In oceans where the great winds blow
And burns the Evening Star.

The air is full of music there
And laughter soft and clear,
And happiness and beauty
And – she is waiting there.

They said my dreams were phantoms,
False Indies of the mind,
But I believed my prophets
And vowed to seek and find.

Through massy seas and craggy reefs
My weather`d ship has fought,
Yet still her shotten war-flags fly,
And still she heads for port.

We must sail on – there is no choice,
Though hope has almost gone:
I cannot leave the splintered wheel
Until the battle’s won.

Yet though I never reach the Isles,
My sibyls were not wrong,
And even as the land recedes
The helmsman cries: “Fight on”.

Michael Thurstan Bassett – ‘Vignettes of Childhood and Other Poems’
31.12.1932 – 27.06.2015


Old Ben and Jane – An allegory


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Year after year he searched for the gold

That he felt in his heart was there,

And year after year he sifted and picked

Refusing to yield to despair.

He thought on little except the prize;

Of the nuggets that dully shone,

Till fact and fiction slowly merged

And the man and his dream became one.


Day by day in heat or cold,

Whatever the dawn might bring,

He scoured the hills and panned the streams

With only his donkey for friend.


“You wait, my Jane, the day will come

When heaven’s stars will sing,

And all the hills will dance with joy

And I shall be a king!

And you, you funny bag of bones

– so stout of heart and true –

You’ll have a carrot ten feet long

And a saddle of sapphire blue”.


Years later, O so many had fled,

They found them ‘mid the rocks – stone dead;

Some shook their heads and looking, sighed,

While others passed – on the farther side.


Yet oft-times on the silent hills,

When the moon is a floating jewel,

There slowly wends a tired old man

With a tired old faithful mule.



“You wait, my Jane, the day will come

When heaven’s stars will sing,

And all the hills will dance with joy

And I shall be a king!

And you, you funny bag of bones

– so stout of heart and true –

You’ll have a carrot ten feet long

And a saddle of sapphire blue”.



You’ll probably think old Ben was mad,

Not so, or so I hold:

Maybe the ground was barren and bare

But his life was of purest gold.

(From Vignettes of Childhood and other Poems by Michael Thurstan Bassett. Available from Amazon.com)



Forever strangers


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“In any of the burial-places of this city, is there a sleeper more inscrutable than its busy inhabitants are in their innermost personality to me than I am to them?” Charles Dickens 

                           Your world is not my world,

                           And my world is not yours,

                           Nor ever shall we span the void

                           Or open wide the doors.


                           What know I of the inner you,

                           The real – not that which seems?

                           I cannot think your midnight thoughts,

                           Or dream your troubled dreams.


                           We speak a different language,

                           A foreign tongue unknown,

                           And in the castles of our souls

                           We live for e’er alone.


                           Like ships upon uncharted seas,

                           We sail in silence by,

                           While in our holds, fast-batten’d down

                           Our secret cargoes lie.


                           Our compasses point randomly

                           Across the cavernous deeps,

                           Defying the powers of darkness

                           And the terrors that slowly creep.


                           It is not true, it never was,

                           That two can e’er be one;

                           For in our deepest hopes and needs

                           All men are islands strong.

                           (Except, perchance, the poet,

                           Who lays his feelings bare,

                           And sings his songs of Sixpences

                           For all the world to hear.


                           But signals can be hoisted,

                           ‘Ere our ships sink to the grave,

                           And one, perhaps, who’s sailing by,

                           Will understand – and wave.


                           For oft I am Arabian,

                           Or Chinese, Greek or Scot,

                           And then within my inward soul

                           I feel mans’ common lot:

                           For in our fears and mortal needs

                           All men are brothers true:

                           Our dread of death and age and want

                           Kins infidel with Jew.


                           But talk not of our self-same roots,

                           Or universal cries;

                           ‘Tis in the seeds of difference

                           Man’s greatness ever lies. 

From Vignettes of childhood and other poems by Michael Thurstan Bassett (Amazon.com)                          

Believe it or knot!


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I always thought that Dickens was guilty of extreme exaggeration when in one of his  great novels he describes how the wooden shutters of a dingy bedroom seemed to stare down with gaunt eyes upon the dead body on the bed. How ridiculous, I thought. How can furniture or fixtures be described as having eyes!

However, yesterday while visiting a friend I happened to glance down and with a shock saw this amazing and almost living eye staring up at me from the beautifully polished wooden floor. Its steady, unblinking gaze was highly unpleasant and somewhat unsettling. When I took a photograph of it I almost felt that I should ask it for its permission!

I will certainly never accuse Dickens of hyperbole again!



A sure cure for old age


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"We don't stop loving (or any other verb you prefer) because we grow old. We grow old because we stop loving" George Bernard Shaw

“We don’t stop loving (or thinking, playing or any other verb you like) because we grow old. We grow old because we stop loving” (etc.,) George Bernard Shaw



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“A brave spirit struggling with adversity is a spectacle for the Gods” Seneca

It is not in the glare of glory
When the crowds are at your feet,
Or the city’s bells are pealing
As you mount the victor’s seat.

All that is but a passing show;
A fleeting flash of light;
A rain-drop glistening in the sun;
A shooting-star at night.

True greatness lies in what’s not seen,
And all that no one knows:
The long, dark years of fruitless toil,
The pain that never shows.
The loneliness and misery,
The heartaches and the fears,
The waiting and the trait’rous doubts:
The constant wearing cares.
The agony of hoping
For a dawn that never comes,
And the mocking face of failure
And rejections down-turned thumbs.

There reigns the greatest glory,
Though roses are not flung:
In valleys where the sun ne’er shines,
And victories are not sung

From the recently published anthology of my poems – ‘Vignettes of boyhood’.