Sunday, 30 July 2017

MARINA xii

And dear Louisa, you have been
The comfort of your mother's heart,
A vivid, loving counterpart
Of shades of what she might have seen.

Yet since you're like a little elf
Grinning at us your impish grin,
Eyes shining out the sprite within,
We gladly see you as yourself.

Plough your own furrow, straight and sure;
Go by the tenor of your way
But as a pilgrim tread, and pray
To keep your mind and motives pure.

Work only for your Lord's renown,
Composing all things for His praise,
Till from Him, as, through grace, you gaze
On Him, you will receive your crown.

Louisa was born about two years after Marina. Whether she, recently married, would like to be compared to an elf now I wonder!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

MARINA xi

Dear Barrie and Susanna, You
May wonder as the years go by,
Missing that little sister, why
This was the course God would pursue.

God leads His own through many a test
To teach His people that they must
Lean upon Him and learn to trust
The love whose way is always best.

If from known fields where they have been
A shepherd one day leads his flock
Among coarse thistle and dry rock
The fields beyond are rich and green.

And when you have an easier way
Remember still that God, in love,
Observes your pathway from above
Longing to see you trust and pray.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

MARINA x

Dear Sarah Anne, You will, I hope,
Forgive this probing of your wound:
Changing, your sorrow waits, cocooned,
Till God's time gives its glossed wings scope.

Within, where it cannot be seen,
The oyster cradles its own grief
And layer on layer secures relief
In giving to the pearl its sheen.

Go by the north gate and its cold
Into God's house; be restful there,
Till sent out by the south gate, where
Well-watered, southern lands unfold.

The One for whom the north wind blew
In chastening, as proof of grace,
Now, for another time and place,
Is He who sends the south winds too.

Ezekiel 46:9; Song of songs 4: 16.

Monday, 24 July 2017

MARINA ix

Dear Alastair, I trust you will
Forgive my verse's poverty
Since death points up the paucity
Of anything I claim of skill.

But what to you was bitter night
For me was cloud to shade my way;
Even my deepest empathy
Inevitably must be trite.

Though I am poor, One who is rich
Was watching with you in the dark
And from that night He left His mark -
His perfectly embroidered stitch.

He is the One who loves to dote
Upon this product of His own,
Rejoicing in the sweeter tone
And timbre of a well-tuned note.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

MARINA viii

(Rom 12: 2)

The Lord could speak of it as food
But we need chastisement to move
Our stolid hearts until we prove
That in each detail it is "good".

It was "acceptable" to Christ
In concept and in consequence;
In us His Spirit helps dispense
With promptings of our carnal geist.

The perfect Man could perfectly
Fulfil God's "perfect" will; but we
Imperfectly behave, or see,
Until with Christ eternally.

It is "of God" and He is Son
Of God; yet none has borne the cost
To do God's will and save the lost
As Jesus in His grace has done.

Friday, 21 July 2017

MARINA vii

Tottering forth she would have found
New lands to conquer every day;
And reaping in her fields of play
Have set her feet on firmer ground.

She would have brought her faculties
Within her ego's vassalage;
Like tropes deployed upon a page
She would have been her personal traits.

But, like us, going her own way
She would have trudged the wilderness
Till met by One intent to bless
Who bent her heart and knees to pray.

And as a shepherdess her skill
Might have secured her little fold:
Her fable was more briefly told,
Since this desire was not God's will.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

MARINA vi

But how we would have loved to see
Her showing off her infant charms
And chuckling in her mother's arms -
Which God decided would not be.

And how we would have watched her grow
Delighting in the normal child
At whose quaint ways we would have smiled -
But by God's will it is not so.

We might have seen her day by day
Flourish in ease and loveliness
With sparkling graces to express -
But our desire was not God's way.

And woman, ripened to fulfil
Beside a loving husband's side
The features of a graceful bride -
But this desire was not God's will.

Monday, 10 July 2017

MARINA V

There is no stone to mark the site
At which Marina has been laid
And nowhere is her name displayed,
Who went through darkness into light.

Perhaps a stone is barely fit
For one who scarcely lived at all,
Whose character evades recall
Because her death extinguished it.

Perhaps a stone would focus grief
For those who come to view the place
By giving a less vacant space
And thus accord them more relief.

But surely where her body lies
Heaven has pleasure to record
And at the coming of the Lord,
Transformed, Marina will arise.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

MARINA iv

By the lychgate I left the car
And took the trodden pathway round
The old church on its little mound
Which stands above the river Yar.

The Yar had yielded to the tide
But gleamed still in the evening sun;
I saw a white horse and a dun
Graze in the meadow by its side.

Lichen has coloured many stones
Asserting its quiescent life
Round where a famous poet's wife,
Among the many, rests her bones.

And here Marina lies. I stood
To contemplate her early death,
Less than a vanity of breath;
Yet knew God works all thing for good.

Monday, 3 July 2017

MARINA iii

An apple blossom, fertilised,
Draws moisture from the tree and joins
Cell upon cell while it burgeons
As its genes' plan is realised.

Daily the fruit becomes more lush
Allowing potent sap to fill
Its body forth with good until
The sun imparts its ripened flush.

To satiate my taste and needs
I grasp the fruit and relish flesh
Making my tongue and palate fresh,
But find no virtue in the seeds.

Her body ripened to be born,
But if God chose to pluck that fruit
We have no title to dispute
The deed that left our hearts forlorn.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

MARINA ii

Was she not wise to flee a world
Grounded in pain and lapped by tears
After that Eden, strange to fears,
In which her being had been curled?

Why should we mourn that she should miss
This torn earth she need never thole,
Gone from one world, replete and whole,
Into her everlasting bliss?

The watchdog, savaging within
The being it was set to guard,
Conscience, has never pressed her hard
Since she was free from acts of sin.

Yet she required no lesser cost,
As shapen in iniquity,
Than us who wander from the Way
To Him who came to save the lost.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

MARINA i

Why should I go to view the grave
In which Marina's body lies
Since saint not angel will apprise
Her soul of thoughts the visit gave?

What am I seeking to effect
Since she in shunning paths of night
And going straightway into light
Claimed no respect or disrespect?

And what would visiting achieve
For those who bore the hardest brunt
And still must thole the daily want
Except to make them freshly grieve?

I search for cause or motive; yet
It is through instinct that I know
That it is right that I should go
Simply since I do not forget.



This is the first of sixteen contemplations of Marina, the daughter of friends, who was born while they were on holiday on the Isle of Wight, and died immediately. I wrote this mainly on the island during a holiday there not long afterwards, in 1994.  It is over 28 years this week since Marina's life and death.