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In the late 1970s and early 1980s, as I approached the age of 40, I began to take a serious interest in the afterlife. This was largely the result of personal trauma and difficulties. I began to seek the assistance of holy souls by means of intercession.
For 30 years now I have been praying to those who have remained faithful unto the Covenant of God, those who can help the progress of the arts and sciences, those souls who have passed on to that Undiscovered Country. These poems are a reflection of my interest in the subject of the afterlife and, inevitably, in aspects of this life.

Poems On the Afterlife:
Pioneering Over Four Epochs: Section VII Poetry

by Ron Price


Until I was 23 I concentrated on getting an education and qualifications so I could enter the job market, the professions. This was a slow and complex process. Words were the only things I felt strong affinities for, besides people; but no obvious talents of significance emerged. From 1967 to 1982 I worked mostly as a teacher, suffered four hypomanic episodes, became settled into a first and then a second marriage, lived among Aboriginals and Eskimos and moved to Australia. By 1992, after 25 years of communicating with students, trying to expand and harmonize Baha’i communities and my personal life, I began to turn to poetry as a way of communicating with myself, with my inner life and private character with specificity and detail. The pull to writing, to poetry, seemed overwhelming. Perhaps this was to be my reward for thirty years of pioneering.

I tried, as far as I was able, to make what I wrote accessible, understandable, readable to others. Several things made this process difficult: the problem of publishing and without publishing 99.9% of the world would have no access at all to what I wrote; the dominantly religious orientation to what I wrote made it irrelevant to the dominant secular society of which I was a part; most people found poetry either uninteresting or in some way or other a genre that did not speak to them with much meaning; those that did read my poetry, at least in these earliest years of my writing, found it difficult to understand, even after I had simplified it as far as it was possible to do so; those that did understand it fell into two categories: one that did not like it and one that did. Keeping all of these factors in mind made me disinclined to want to share it, explain it or promote it with much enthusiasm. Any enthusiasm I did have for publishing was nipped in the bud by the several Baha’i publishing houses which either expressed no interest or felt it was not timely to publish since the market for poetry was too small. I did not see myself in the same league as Roger White that provisional poet laureate of the Bahá'í Faith who became the most popular Bahá'í poet in the 1980s. If only a few appreciated Roger, fewer would appreciate me I thought to myself. Publishing one’s own material was still too costly. Perhaps I’d put it on Internet I said to myself by the time I retired from teaching.

And so I took a fundamentally different tack to Roger and to other Baha’i poets whom I saw publishing their own work in small volumes which by the 1990s were beginning to dot the intellectual and artistic horizon of the Baha’i community. After nearly two years of sending copies of my poetry to the Baha’i World Centre Library I became more than a little conscious that my original autobiography, Pioneering Over Three Epochs(1), which I had already sent to this library early in 1993, was being added to at a much more profound level than my simple narrative in that original document. This poetry, subsumed under an autobiographical label and housed in that library, would serve as an archival statement for future generations or so I liked to think.

I had developed a keen interest in receiving the assistance of holy souls after their ascension, in the dozen or so years from 1980 to 1992, and I would aim to communicate with those yet unborn. Such was my poetic aspiration as I headed into the second decade of writing poetry. Any communicating of my poetry that got done with those among my contemporaries I came to see as a bonus.

I occasionally got a poem published, perhaps half a dozen from the over two thousand I had written from September 1992 to September 1995. Occasionally I gave one, a few or a booklet to a friend, an interested inquirer, or an institution, in response to an expressed interest. But I became much more enamoured by the process than the content; the process was so personally enriching, invigorating, satisfying that I came to be less and less interested in promotion. I felt as if I was, to use Rilke’s metaphor, turning my memories and impressions into blood. Perhaps it was partly the sense of reliving past experiences, freshly minted as it were. Perhaps it was the struggle to transmute personal experience into rich, universal statements, insights, comment that I became entranced with; or the translation of knowledge into feeling and feeling into knowledge; perhaps I actually received assistance from holy souls; perhaps I would in fact provide a rich reservoir of archival poetry for some future age, a reservoir that would illumine these days before the Lesser Peace and would leave traces that would last forever. It was worth taking the shot. The goal was genuinely awe-inspiring and, although I’d never know if I succeeded, it satisfied my thrill-seeking propensities. Much of my work over the decades in the Administrative Order as a pioneer on the homefront and overseas had been quite a buzz; indeed, I often felt like a secret-agent man offering unobtrusively and as seductively as I could, the “fresh leaves, the bossoms and fruits of consecrated joy.”(2) I needed a new elixir. And even if noone ever read my poetry, it gave me great joy to write it. I found a source of joy and I tried to give it a voice. It was like an enormous step-up transformer to my inner life and private experience, quite beyond anything I had ever known. As Robert Louis Stevenson said once: “to miss the joy is to miss all.”(3)

However one defines or expresses this process, one thing stood out. I had come at last to discover what Shoghi Effendi had meant when he emphasized the one thing that would ensure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause. The extent to which one’s inner life and private character mirrored forth in their manifold aspects the splendour of those eternal principles proclaimed by Baha’u’llah. I was conscious of both my abasement and my glory. I was defining that inner life and what I wrote was clearly one definition, or many definitions, of the who that I was. There was a new freshness in the air after some stern tests in Baha’i community life, my personal life and my professional life.

I keep an eye, now, on that reader whom I hope will understand. I imagine him or her at some distant decade. But the other eye I close to the world and all that is therein. That eye on the reader I also try to open to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved, as Baha’u’llah puts it. With that open eye I wait, I listen, I ponder, until something shines, stirs, like an emerging spectacle of blessedness. Something in my inner life unfolds, some finely tempered sword comes out of its sheath and sometimes something becomes resplendent and manifest. I ensure that this manifest splendour gets into the Baha’i World Centre Library. Those mysterious dispensations of a watchful Providence may ensure that the publication of this poetry is endlessly deferred and that it becomes a simple archival specimen read by a few. For what is a manifest splendour to one person is dust and ashes to someone else.

If a future age finds here a forcible expression of the inescapable and massive realities of our moral and spiritual life in these early epochs of the Formative Age, as seen through the experience of one international Baha’i pioneer; if it sees a type of firm meditativeness, a supple and articulate historical sense; if it sees the awkward and tangled reality of our times laid out in all their dark and gleaming colours for everyone to interpret according to their abilities; if what is written here helps that age overcome the power of the past to elude the net of language, then what is found here may play some small and, as yet, indefinable part. I think the exercise if definitely worth the shot.

(1) a narrative sent to the Baha’i World Centre Library in April of 1993; poetry sent in January 1994 and periodically after that date; and essays and journal material also sent in 1994 and 1995. Together and with future additions they make the book Pioneering Over Three Epochs.
(2) ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Secret of Divine Civilization, US, 1975, p.116.
(3) Robert Louis Stevenson, in Christopher Isherwood: Where Joy Resides, Don Bechardy and james Wite, eds., Methuen, London, 1989, .v.

Ron Price
4 December 1995


Agee constantly assures his reader that it is impossible to know a way of life, or evoke it with a verbal approximation. But he strove to sketch the dignity of actuality....the everyday world...He found ways to catch the beauty of moments....he also went back into the past by means of his writing and honoured his father, his mother, or whoever, by evoking as much of their past as possible.-Victor A. Kramer, Agee and Actuality: Artistic Vision in His Work, The Whitston Publishing Co. Troy, NY, 1991, p.42 and some paraphrasing.

He used to dry my hair,
sixty and little hair himself,
one of those thoroughbreds
who were beyond fattening,
a bit too highly strung, but
I would never have said that,
then, as I ran about, always on
the run, too busy to see those
bony fingers, to hear a tired voice,
to touch his old, thin face or kiss
his cheeks, put my arms around
his slim frame, sons did not do
that then or now, much.

But he dried my hair and off
I went to bed: comforting routine
at the core of life with real knowing
coming later, so much later, if at all.
Perhaps it is in consorting with people
of the immortal realm that we go up
on the ladders of inner truth and hasten...
to the heaven of inner significance.*
I see him then in that small room
on the green couch his head angled
just ready to nod off--for he was an old man.

Has he come to me now through my prayers
and all those years of thought and quiet laid-
down memory on the wings of assistance
from Holy Souls like the subtle mysteries
of the Friend with the Israfil of life?
Does he wait, renewed and refreshed
by some mountain stream, to hear my story,
or mine his. We have so much to say,
although it may not need saying when,
at last, our souls have drunk from that
camphor fountain near the Crimson Pillar
on that snow-white path where the gate
opens on the placeless.

Ron Price
30 September 1995


If thou be a man of communion and prayer, soar up on the wings of assistance from Holy Souls, that thou mayest behold the mysteries of the Friend.
-Baha’u’llah, Seven Valleys, (US, 1952), p.17.

Do not remember me when I am gone,
if that remembering should make you sad.
This vapourous illusion will not call me back,
will not make me wish for more; I shall be glad.
If you think of me, then, in death’s endless night
like some vanished sight and you don’t feel bad,
your losses and your sorrows partly on the mend,
I in your sweet thoughts must want to live on.
I in your love will germinate and refresh,
reborn a thousand times when I am gone.
Like the waves on the pebbled shore
which we so often saw and sat beside before,
our lives do hasten to their last breath
and this my verse shall long after that end,
wave after wave, be heard to tend
to that fair memory which you then enjoy
and which I, in you, will bring eternal joy.

Ron Price
8 October 1995

Not marble, nor guilded monuments
Of Princes shall out-live this powerful rime,
-Shakespeare, The Sonnets, Number 55.
....Probably the greatest immortalization poem in the language.
-J.W. Lever in The Elizabethan Love Sonnet, pp.246-72.

If this poem lives on beyond marble columns
and monuments of old it will be because
it speaks to hearts across time’s eternal
bridge and they shall shine more bright
with wisdom and thought’s powerful height.
Memory’s firey life which travels on
from age to age, epoch-making, long after
I am gone will find a place for this, if
imagination does entwine new and wonderful
configurations of the light that here does shine.
If not, of course, it will end and take its dusty course.

Ron Price
8 October 1995


Ye are better known to the inmates of the Kingdom on high that ye are to your own selves...the light which these souls radiate is responsible for the progress of the world and the advancement of its peoples.
-From notes taken from the Writings circa 1980.

How can I be alone
when hosts do visit me?
I can not say they’re known,
I know them just to be.

I have given them some names
from my list of holy souls
and they kindle certain flames
while I pursue my goals.

I used to wonder when they came
and if they stayed for long,
but now I know some of their game;
they’re the source of all this song.

This poetry is born of awe
in some mystic place,
quite unknown; I am possessed
of a magic kind of lace.

Its birth place quite enchants me,
‘though I will never know
just what is the grand fallopian key
that sets in motion this grand flow.

Ron Price
14 June 1996


For most, if not all, poets there is an enormous discrepancy between ‘real life’ and ‘the life of the imagination’. The life of that imagination often seems richer than the materials it is given by life to work with. Often, too, the more protected and uneventful the actual business of living, the more magnificent the flight from it is for the poet.-Ian Hamilton, A Poetry Chronicle: Essays and Reviews, Faber and Faber, London, 1973, p. 146.

Surely, this is that inner life and private character,
the place for the magnificent flight, the mirroring
of those eternal principles, the wine that is life indeed,
the washing away of the stains, the wilderness of longing,
the enrichment of riches, the soaring on wings, the sweetness
of memory, the taste of tender herbs of knowledge, the sinking
deep of words, some quieting of the heart, the delighting of my
suckling child, this inner nothingness clad with a verdure and a
fragrance of the Robe of a Revelation. This is all an inner thing
which has outward manifestations: the ear wherewith he heareth1,
a soaring up on the wings of assistance from Holy Souls2,
one must, then, read the book of his own self.3
And so, on and on, thoughts press on, and feelings flow,
while quickly words form round me like flakes of snow.4

Ron Price
14 June 1996

1 Baha’u’llah, Seven Valleys, USA, 1952, p.22.
2 ibid., p.17.
3 ibid., p.48.
4 Baha’u’llah refers to mounting on the ladders of inner truth and hastening to the heaven of inner significance(ibid., p.12). These inner significances and the kinds of things I am referring to in this poem are one approach to this fundamental question of the inner life.


Somewhere in all those thirty-seven houses and twenty-five towns; among all those thousands of children, adolescents and adults I taught; somewhere between a range of climate zones from frozen subpolar to tropical, between two marriages and over a hundred different syllabi taught over thirty years: I acquired the feeling that life was not just a spectacle; I was not just a spectator; life was not a frenetic, gloomy half-life of sheer business, constant movement and activity and utter boredom. I lived within a different paradigm which I was slowly learning to define and describe.-Ron Price with thanks to David Denby, Great Books: My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf, and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World, Simon & Schuster, NY, 1996, p.15.

Sometimes the foundations collapsed;
sometimes cracks appeared,
major overhauls were required,
but I had felt the bonds of the Friend.
The tree of my longing had yielded
the fruit of despair, while the fire
of my hope had fallen to ashes.
But I had beheld the mysteries
of the Friend, soared up on the wings
of assistance from Holy Souls,
knew that secrets were many
and strangers myriad; ate of endless
bounties of inner significance; was, still,
burning away the veils with my sighing,
becoming exhausted in a whirlwind…..
of wonderment.1

Ron Price
18 July 1998

1 there is much here from Bahá'u'lláh's Seven Valleys


I had that feeling, a wonderful feeling, that writers get sometimes, although not very often, of being with a great many people and especially ancient spirits, all very happy to see me. I was consulting with and acknowledging these spirits. They were eager to let me know, through the joy of their presence, that, indeed, I was not alone. -Alice Walker, In Search of Mother’s Gardens, The Women’s Press Ltd., 1984, London, p.13.

I believe in the power of holy souls to assist me, to act as a leaven, to furnish me with the power through which the arts and wonders of the world, and especially my poetry, can be made manifest to the world. -Ron Price. See Gleanings, Baha’u’llah, p.161.

Writing poems is partly my way of celebrating with the world that my quiet death of the previous night has passed and a quiet joy has returned. This, I have always felt, is a residue of an old manic-depressive illness. -Ron Price with thanks to Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, The Women’s Press Ltd., London, 1984, p.241.

If you bring forth
what is within you,
what is within you
will save you.
If you do not
bring forth what
is within you,
what is within you
will destory you.
-Jesus, The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels, editor.

I write when I’m happy, mostly,
and when I’m sad, sometimes,
there’s a feverish excitement;
sometimes their’s dread.
I am preoccupied with
the spiritual experience
of the Baha’i community
and the mystery of life’s
endless exploration.

Ron Price
2 October 1999


Angels of fire and snow was a gauche and watercolour on paper done by Diane Ardjamond of Springwood NSW Australia. The work consisted of three separate pieces of art and was exhibited at the 18th Annual Baha’i Studies Conference in Melbourne from the 21st to the 26th of September 1999. The following poem was inspired by Mrs. Ardjamond’s moving evocation of a phrase, a concept, an image, from Baha’u’llah’s Writings, His Angels of fire and snow.
-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999.

Where did they come from
these angels of fire and snow?
Were they picked out
from the Kingdom,

Oh yes! The Kingdom of Names
in the first half century
of the establishment
of His earthly Kingdom1,
from His unearthly Kingdom.

This may be the closest I’ll get
to the real thing, there:2

Can they really help, there?
And what of these,
you who are created
and on the wall, here?

Will I see you again, there,3
in all your brightness and colour,
your enigmatic and serene depths,
your ice-cool labyrinths
and history’s touch,
here and there.

Is this a taste of what is to come?
Will I be worthy of your immense
charm and beauty,
the flood of your presence,
your radiance
and its fire and snow.
Who are you? -----Ron Price 24 September 1999

1 The Kingdom of God on earth began, according to Shoghi Effendi in God Passes By, in 1953. 2 Holy souls in the next life act as a leaven that levens the world of being. Perhaps these angels of fire and snow are part of that levening influence.
3 I like to think that some artistic works are more than just an influx of the heart or the workings of a finite and simple mind, but that they may be forms, of strong indications of forms, that in some cases befit the immortality of some souls. Indeed, that I may meet the creations of an artist, as well as the artist, in another world seems to me a delightful, if somewhat fanciful, thought.


Between the West Tamar Road and the Tamar River and running a few feet from the river’s edge from Tailrace Park up near the river’s end is a delightful walking path. I discovered this path while staying for over five weeks in Trevallyn with my step-daughter and her family before my wife and I moved to George Town in early September. I had not learned of this path during my two stays in Launceston, first in 1974, and second in 1979-1980. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999.

I’m back to the one hour standard,
although it’s tough to maintain.
Here beside the Teetree and bullrushes
as the Tamar winds its way,
as slowly as drops of time,
as I walk slowly along
the river’s edge praying,
as is my custom when I walk,
for the departed,
usually and firstly,
a long list now with the years:
friends, family, faithful ones,
holy souls who have gone on
to that Undiscovered Country
and who
by some mystic,
quite unknown,
provide the leaven
that leavens the world of being
and furnishes me with the power
to manifest the wonders of the world.*

Ron Price
3 September 1999

* See Baha’u’llah, Gleanings.


In the winter of 1980 I recovered from my fourth, or perhaps fifth, hypomanic episode and wrote my first poems. I continued asking for the assistance of Holy Souls, a process I had begun in 1978 in Ballarat. By 1983 I was writing eight hundred words a week for the Katherine Advertiser and was working on A History of the Baha’i Faith in the Northern Territory. Within a year, some time in 1984, I began an autobiographical work which was to blossom into my many genred Pioneering Over Three Epochs. Like Proust, I found that “a process of slow maturation.....turned the anguished child” of my life into “the strange, energetically dedicated man” concentrating my “reserves of life and childhood memories on the pen”1 I wielded. The following poem, a vahid, describes the inception of that process.
-Ron Price with thanks to 1 Maurice Blanchot, The Sirens’ Song: Selected Essays, Harvester Press, 1982, p.70.

Some process began in those dark
and depressing, fearsome, months
where gold had been discovered
back when they put out the Light.1

Gold was discovered then, new,
but we did not know it,2 although
we tried to mine it, slowly;
day-after-day, unobtrusively
it came into the vein of our lives.

From a leaven that leavens
the world of being and furnishes
a power I drew its secret; silently
it came, unknown from the River
into my life, drop-by-drop,3 until
it flowed endlessly below my
canyon walls, over my rocks,
splashing, dancing in the sun
and in the night dark and lonely,
cold under the star-moonlit sky.

1 gold was discovered in Ballarat in 1851 within a year of the martydom of the Bab.
2 I did not know it had begun to flow; the Babis did not now it in 1952, either, when Baha’u’llah had the first intimations of His Revelation.
3 1978 to 1992: fourteen years of trying to draw on the secret of that leaven.

Ron Price
5 September 2000


The vividness of the life with which dead, buried and in some cases entirely forgotten civilizations were endowed in the consciousness of a latter-day Western Society that had succeeded in recapturing them was piquantly illustrated by the vitality of Ikhanaton's and Nefrititi's ghost, which, after the passing of thirty-two centuries, aroused the same feelings that the Egyptiac records testified to their having aroused in the flesh of Egyptiac circles when they were living, reigning and innovating in the fourteenth century BC.
-Ron Price with thanks to Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, Vol.9, (1963)1954, p.118.

The vividness of the life with which dead, buried and in many significant historical personages were endowed in the consciousness of a Bahá'í community---in these early years of the twenty-first century and the fifth epoch of its Formative Age---that had succeeded in recapturing them was piquantly illustrated by the vitality of the spirit of the Purest Branch and the Greatest Holy Leaf which, after the passing of a little more than a century in the case of the former and the passing of a little less than a century in the case of the latter, aroused the same feelings now, in our time, as they aroused when they lived and moved and had their being; indeed these early generations of this Formative Age have reared for them "in the innermost recesses of our hearts"1 a shining mansion which the hand of time would never undermine, an alter whereon the fire of their consuming love would "burn forever."1
-Ron Price with thanks to 1Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, Wilmette, 1968, p. 196.

They're going back and digging them up,1
and checking them out and finding them out,
who did what and when and about whom.

They like going back to those old, old tombs
and passing on a fascination for an evening
to a mass too busy to really get stuck in,
prefer to watch a movie
or go to bed after a long day,
except perhaps a coterie,
it's a coterie for everything these days.

They're going back now on those archeological digs
and checking out those dead tissues,
gold pieces, pouring over them for minutiae,
Nefrititi, the Pharaohs and a venomous conflict
over monotheism.2

We go back, too, to our tombs
in a garden on a hill,
on the breast of Carmel,
a resting place among others3
of three holy souls,
for their way has become our way;
they lead us on,
brilliant exemplars,
on a wave of tenderness
and pathos to our own
private and public destinations.

1 Egyptologists in 1922 and again from 1987 onwards for the first time since the 3rd to 5th century excavated the tombs of the Pharoahs.
2 circa 1370-1353 B.C.: Ikhnaton, could not impose his vision on the priests.
3 there are a number of resting places/tombs to visit in Haifa for Bahá'ís.

Ron Price
4 June 2001


I could argue that all my creative activity, all my writing, was born in and became part of a process of, prayer for the departed that I initiated in 1978 and 1979. Everything that I accomplished in later life unfolded, I could again argue, from that 'leaven that leaveneth the world of being.' It was a leaven from holy souls who furnish 'the power through which the arts and wonders of the world are made manifest.'1 Slowly at first, a delay, a prelude, of perhaps as many as fourteen years, and then an avalanche, a long and, thusfar, unending shower of heavenly rain. This abundance, this consummation of what had been, in fact, a revolutionizing process, a process that had been initiated near the start of the Seven Year Plan(1979-1986), became part of my day-to-day experience, my sensibility, my delight, my rejoicing. It is something ineffable that I feel, I see, with my mind and heart, behind and within the things of this world. I have enjoyed these new sensations now for ten years. The onrushing influences of their informing force2 have yielded thousands of verses and millions of words. -Ron Price with thanks to 1Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p.161; and 2Shoghi Effendi,God Passes By, p.152.

He called it his mid-life vision quest,1
his daimon and living with its call,
not just a piece of flesh and blood,
a persona and its social mask,
but some deeper self, some healing
and wholeness, some inner voice,
some laying bare of the human soul,
some revelation of inner mysteries,
but still dealing with those ever-present
embodiments of satanic fancy,
what pertains to water and clay,
to shadowy and ephemeral attachments,
those constituents of psychic life
that roam through our wilderness,
our private places of oblivion and error.

Reading the book of my own self,
now in these days, I am cast
to the lowest abyss and draw near
to that summit of glory,2
an inner land ushered in a decade ago
by an oft' repeted experience
of emptiness, depression and fear.
Now, for me, the true events,
the battles of history lie buried within me
not in Afganistan or Kurdistan
and I try to know myself again
in all its uniqueness
and singularity, more deeply.3

2 Baha'ull'ah, Seven Valleys, p.50.
1 and 3 John-Raphael Staude, the Adult Development of C.G. Jung, Routledge, London, 1981, p.68 and p.94, respectively.
Ron Price
9 January 2002


T.S. Eliot advised poets to write as they really feel not as they want to feel. I have known this admonition of Eliot's for years, but putting it into practice is difficult. Sometimes I feel changed as a result of writing a poem and I hope others who come across my poems are transformed in the act of reading them. I make an assault on perfection, try to create a masterpiece when I write a poem. I like to think there is an influence of the Holy Spirit, of Holy Souls Who have passed on and are possessed of special power. The process of writing a poem, it seems to me, is a profound act, very serious, very demanding, finally, audacious. -Ron Price with thanks to Roger White, "Poetry and Self-Transformation," The Creative Circle, editor, Michael Fitzgerald, Kalimat Press, Los Angeles, 1989, pp.2-6.

A spiritual act, a form of worship,
a holding up of a mirror of ourselves,
to strengthen our will to aspire,
a proclamation to others:
you must change.1

After great pain you had,
a blackness, dry, in the dust.
You say, this was a test.
He bore them. They bore them.
They were, indeed, hours of lead
for Them and for you, in those years.

But you went on, outlived them,
frightened to your bone,
a chill, a stupor, heat, frozen snow
and then, with the years, a letting go.2

1 Rilke quoted in White, op.cit.,p.12.
2 These last ten lines are a statement of how I really felt in the most intense periods of suffering in my life, inspired here by Emily Dickinson and her poem number 341

Ron Price
20 January 2002


This evening, during my walk along South Street at the edge of Pipeclay Bay and the Tamar estuary as it heads out into Bass Strait, I felt a strong sense of my father. My memory of his last days in 1964 and 1965 were very strong. I said a prayer for the departed for him and asked for the intercession of holy souls who have themselves gone on to the next world. A poem emerged so quickly in my mind as I walked along that when I got home I typed it up immediately. It is set out below in a completed form. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 11 April 2001.

He sits alone on the corner chair
reading a detective novel,
one of the last he will read,
for it's all over now,
except for the ruptured aneurism
at the end of six months in bed.

It's all over, all the work,
the ambition, the trying,
the anger, the humility,
the endless humility,
the sense of loss,
the absurdity, the fatigue,
will soon be over.

He can sense it coming;
he hopes it comes,
for he has had enough;
he's had all he can take
of the game of life
and its twistings
and turnings its
bewildering mystery,
unutterable mystery,
that beat him in the end,
defeated him.

I know this man;
he is my father
and I am he
around the corner
of my years ahead,
alone, too, in a room,
with a book, my memories
and the same mystery.

Ron Price
11 April 2001


May God cause him to inhale the sweet scent of holiness in the highest Paradise, and refresh him with the crystalline wine cup, tempered at the camphor fountain.
-’Abdu’l-Baha, Memorials of the Faithful, Wilmette, 1971, p.97.

He says the just shall quaff of this cup.*
In India the camphor flame symbolizes
an entire ritual, a culmination of worship;
with its strong light and fragrance, it is waved
to close, to climax, the ritual, life itself, the last waving.

Look within thee and thou wilt find Me
standing within thee: mighty, powerful
and self-subsistent.

The camphor flame symbolizes this oneness:
the indwelling-God, closeness, closer than life’s vein,
a mystic unity in that abode in the Centre of Realities
where I take leave of self, enter the ocean of union and
drink the peerless wine, tempered in that camphor flame:
bright and pure, a delicate draught, oh so sweet,
beside the Crimson Pillar in the snowwhite path,
the gate that opens on the placeless.

God’s power is in that flame, it is said, and
the light of that flame is a potent condensed symbol
of all that stands for light, for Baha.
Tempered, the wine is made to the right strength:
not too heavy, not too light, just right,
balanced with light, as I have tried to balance this life,
taking leave of this dark and narrow world
and joining light to light in this my new heavenly homeland
that no man has seen, this gathering-place of splendors
and its rain of blessings and its tempering camphors.

Ron Price
22 September 1995

* Quran 76:9


May God cause him to inhale the sweet scent of holiness in the highest Paradise, and refresh him with the crystalline wine cup, tempered at the camphor fountain.
-’Abdu’l-Baha, Memorials of the Faithful, Wilmette, 1971, p.97.

He says the just shall quaff of this cup.*
In India the camphor flame symbolizes
an entire ritual, a culmination of worship;
with its strong light and fragrance, it is waved
to close, to climax, the ritual, life itself, the last waving.

Look within thee and thou wilt find Me
standing within thee: mighty, powerful
and self-subsistent.

The camphor flame symbolizes this oneness:
the indwelling-God, closeness, closer than life’s vein,
a mystic unity in that abode in the Centre of Realities
where I take leave of self, enter the ocean of union and
drink the peerless wine, tempered in that camphor flame:
bright and pure, a delicate draught, oh so sweet,
beside the Crimson Pillar in the snowwhite path,
the gate that opens on the placeless.

God’s power is in that flame, it is said, and
the light of that flame is a potent condensed symbol
of all that stands for light, for Baha.
Tempered, the wine is made to the right strength:
not too heavy, not too light, just right,
balanced with light, as I have tried to balance this life,
taking leave of this dark and narrow world
and joining light to light in this my new heavenly homeland
that no man has seen, this gathering-place of splendors
and its rain of blessings and its tempering camphors.

Ron Price
22 September 1995

* Quran 76:9


Distinctive voice is inseparable from distinctive substance...we will feel, as we read, a sense that the poet was not wed to any one outcome....the reader is freely invited to recreate in his own mind....the true has about it an air of mystery or inexplicability ........the subject of a serious poet must be a life with a leaning, life with a tendency to shape itself... -Louise Gluck, “Against Sincerity”, Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry, Ecco Press, Hopewell, N.J., 1994.

Every atom in existence is distinctive
especially these Hanging Gardens:
we’ve got distinctive substance here
and some of us have been waiting
a long time-try forty years-for this
apotheosis of the Ancient of Days
in a holy seat, at last a genuinely
holy seat in a world of seats, seemingly
endless seats: the light of the countenance
of God, the Ruler of the Kingdom of Names
and Fashioner of the heavens hath been
lifted upon thee.*

Here is a world where affliction is married
to ecstasy, suffering defined with virtuosity,
colour mounts on colour, temperatures mix
and pure gold comes from the alchemist,
pure fire, pure spiritual energy so that:
my pages stain with apple-green;
my letters are written in chrysolite;
words find marble, gates and shrines
embedded in diamonds and amethyst.
What is this molton gold, ink burnt
grey, revelation writing? ....cheering
thine eyes and those of all creation,
and filling with delight all things
visible and invisible.* Yes and no,
always, it seems, yes and no.
Conflagrant worlds interacting:
the myth is tragic here. A grandeur
that is magnetic, but even here,
the meaning must be found.

Can you see the scars, the evidence:
there’s been emotion here to the
essence of our hearts. I try to name,
localize, master, define that scar,
but it is beyond my pen, beyond the
poignant inadequacy of my strategems.
No response of mine goes deep enough.
This poetry of functional simplicity
will never reach Zion, the City of God,
but I will try: May my life be a sacrifice
to Thee, inasmuch as Thou hast
fixed Thy gaze upon me,
hast bestowed upon me Thy bounty,
and hast directed toward me Thy steps.*
* Tablet of Carmel


In his terror of chaos man begins by putting up an umbrella between himself and the everlasting whirl. Then he paints the underside of his umbrella like a firmament. Then he parades around, lives and dies under his umbrella. Bequeathed to his descendants, the umbrella becomes a dome, a vault, and men at last begin to feel that something is wrong...Then comes a poet, enemy of convention and makes a slit in the umbrella; and lo! The glimpse of chaos is a vision, a window to the sun. But after a while, getting used to the vision, and not liking the genuine draught from chaos...he has got used to the vision; it is a part of the house-decoration. -D.H. Lawrence in Acts of Attention: The Poems of D.H. Lawrence, Sandra Gilbert, Cornell UP, London, 1972, pp.5-6.

We all need our painted and patched umbrellas
and they come to us with mother’s milk,
that bottle and the insidious and insinuating forces
of a pervasive socialization that none can resist.
What do you expect D.H.? This is the glass darkly;
we patch over the slit; we’re professional at it.
Not many seem to see the vision,
so many of those that do, as you say, make it
a house-decoration or, coffined in glass,
set it in a place of honour in the central square.

Sometimes, as you say, that window to the sun
opens in the eyes some exquisite power,
tears well from the flowers of sweetness,
but such a crystal concentrate of beauty,
fragrance drifting through the night
becomes as the eye to any artifact,
even the gentleness is engorged
with a simpering puritanism
and the fragrance is passed by.

Oh D.H., the city elders have their job
with half the population dead,
the threat of plague eating at our heels.
Such beauty may just disregulate the city’s
ordered ways: this time, D.H.,
the draught from chaos is here to stay.

...The whole creation was revolutionized, and
all that are in the heavens and all that are on
earth were stirred to the depths. Through that
Word the realities of all created things were
shaken, were divided, separated, scattered,
combined and reunited, disclosing...entities
of a new creation...*

Ron Price
11 October 1995

* Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations, Wilmette, 1969, p.295.


Many a hound pursueth this gazelle of the desert of oneness; many a talon claweth at this thrush of the eternal garden. Pitiless ravens do lie in wait for this bird of the heavens of God...
-Baha’u’llah, Seven Valleys(US, 1952), p.41.

Live free of love, for its very peace is anguish;
Its beginning is pain, its end is death.
-Arabian Poem quoted by Baha’u’llah, Seven Valleys(US, 1952), p.42.

So sweet you trace across the evening air.
I almost missed you as I passed by,
but your fragrance so suddenly and gently
took me high, the softest twist, ‘twas
like that face of beauty which caught
my eye with wonder in the room by the
window under the noonday sun.
How can such beauty be contained in
such a form of eyes, mouth and hair
and such cheeks and forehead?
I soak the beauty and breath the fragrance
into my soul, but then: what can one do
with such beauty after one has drunk it in?
A moment’s fancy, bright, deep longing,
draft of wonder, sight, can not be taken home;
one can not drink forever; it comes and goes
just like the weather’s changing tune.

But here, over here, is a beauty that won’t die.
It dwells forever and beyond the sky in some
emerald height of fidelity.** This is a fragrance
I have known and seen, but the claws of earth,
hounds, pitiless ravens and huntsmen of envy stalk
this pure face of beauty and its sweetest fragrance.
What I have known long, too, can be a memory
like that frangipani I passed tonight, or that young
face of delightful beauty in the sun by my window.
For this beauty that won’t die lives within,
while outside pain and anguish often seem to win.

Ron Price
8 October 1995

* Shakespeare, The Sonnets, Number 146.
** Baha’u’llah, Hidden Words, Persian, 77.


By unity Camus means the achievement of an integral meaningfulness...which is an essential constituent of happiness. -David Sprintzen, Camus: A Critical Examination, Temple UP, Philadelphia, 1988, p.243.

What produces this great access of the intimation of potential, a sense of power and discovery still to come, dimly yet passionately felt. -Elizabeth Sewell, The Human Metaphor, University of Notre Dame Press, 1964, p.57.

It was like arriving in the Promised Land
after forty years of wandering between
those holy years(1952-1992); could it be
a half-way point before a final forty?
A gnat into an eagle, one that flies
in remote mountain regions; a broken-
winged bird soaring in limitless space,
my drooping wings unfolded by Him
and started on my flight with a clear
vision of an unravelling destiny and
a stirring history of divine support:
is this the game?

Indeed, it was an auspicious juncture,
like mana from heaven en route to
Canaan land and the Kingdom of
fadeless glory* with sacred remembrances
to help with tasks yet undone, heights
yet to be attained and centuries of
unfolding fulfillment incrementally
realized in thrusts and epochal leaps
that I would only see from some
undiscovered country.
Propitious times they were, that year,
a vista of fertility, a precipitateness,
some mysterious rampant force born,
perhaps with that new paradigm--
and a new kind of victory, incalculable
potential, from the myriad of opportunities
blowing from onrushing winds, ventilating
modes of thought: renewing, amplifying,
clarifying my perspectives with
some great access of energy.

Such a lustrous prize after all
that wandering across two continents,
a poetic garnering,
a consequence of unimaginable potency
of that year of demarkation, its solemn
memorializing, its inner reflection, its
special time for a rendezvous of my soul
with its Source, a retreat to my innermost
being where I find my self-subsistent Lord
in His retreat of deathless splendour
and am filled with the revivifying
breath of His celestial power.
*’Abdu’l-Baha, quoted in Ridvan Message 1992.


Dickey’s sense of personality (is)....a series of imagined dramas, sometimes no more than flashes of rapport, kinships with....the which personality is gained only when reason is rejected...The process of increasing every existential role in the universe abandoned...reverence for life...his own personal history as an analogue exploration of twentieth-century....a fundamental helplessness of man....the poet a shaman, a specialist in ecstacy, a participant in the divine... -Joyce Carol Oates, “The Imagination of James Dickey”, The Imagination as Glory: The Poetry of James Dickey, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1984, p.68, p.72

The main thing in poetry is the discovery of an idiom and the exploitation of it over an area of thought for a long time. -James Dickey in Jane Bowers-Martin’s, “Jericho and God’s Images”, The Imagination as Glory: The Poetry of James Dickey, Bruce Weigl and T. Hummer, editors, University of Illinois, Urbana, 1984, p.150.

Poetry is a happening in that level of the personality where things really is as divine intermediary between you and the world that poetry functions, bringing with it an enormous increase in perceptiveness, an increased ability to understand and interpret the order of one’s experience....the pleasure...the gift of being able to...get as far into a great good place-the poem itself-as one can... -James Dickey, “The Energized Man”, ibid., pp.164-165.

The terror that many feel
in the silence of infinite spaces
when the wind blows whistling
through the edges of the doors
and windows on a cold rainy night
at the edge of a great sandy desert
in a new suburban house
with the garden not-yet-planted,
or in a thousand other infinite spaces
on this whirling ball,
I have not often felt.

I have for many a long year,
since somewhere in my teens,
seen the universe as a benign place
and a meaningful one, purposeful,
a direction to an evolutionary process
and poetry, imagination, aliveness
fill the space, give me a feeling
I have lived and defined that order,
meaning, purpose, reality.
I have sensed I am nothing.
And out of this nothingness
I attempt to become.

In this attempt I begin to live,
to write and to use my imagination
to enrich all that I live for and believe,
all that I see in this dizzying universe
of suns, moons, space--
this abode of dust
on my way
to the heavenly homeland.

Ron Price
2 October 1995

*Baha’u’llah, Seven Valleys, (US, 1952), p.4.

Pittosporaceae: Hymenosporum flavum

Native Frangipani, a native of NSW and Qld, prefers light to medium soils in an open, sunny position, is drought resistant but ‘frost tender’ when young. Frances Bodkin, Encyclopedia Botanica: The Essential Reference Guide To Native and Exotic Plants in Australia, Angus and Robertson, North Ryde, NSW, 1986, p.571.

In this day the mysteries of this earth are unfolded and visible before the eyes...
-Baha’u’llah, Baha’i World Faith, Wilmette, 1956, p.171.

We all have different ways of coming out,
but with a name like that noone would ever know.
Of course, one does not need a name
to enjoy your rich fragrance on a cold spring night
under a stary sky. Your expanding tubes
of yellow flowers caress that old wood fence
in the front yard and, one day soon,
your fragrant petals will sweeten the ground
with their gentleness, a touch of pure heaven.
Sweetness like this, housed in that evergreen tree,
so unobtrusively by the side of my yard is, perhaps,
your definition of success, your reward
for making major adjustments in the unfolding
plan of the universe, at least since Jurassic times,
at least with your insect pollinators
and your nectar guides to the sweets
hidden in your deepest cups.

Ron Price
22 September 1995


Know thou that the Kingdom is the real world, and this nether place is only its shadow stretching out. A shadow hath no life of its own; its existence is only a fantasy, and nothing more; it is but images reflected in water, and seeing as pictures to the eye.
-’Abdu’l-Baha, Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, 1978, p.178.

...each individual’s plans of spiritual development must be distinctly tailored to the conditions of his or her own soul; what we are trying to develop are faculties of discernment and judgement so that each of us has a degree of spiritual autonomy...We must be capable of choosing on a daily basis that point of moderation between extremes: the courage that lies between foolhardiness and cowardice, the joy between oppressive seriousness and insipid frivolity.... -John Hatcher, The Purpose of Physical Reality: The Kingdom of Names, Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1987, p.114.

Know ye that the world is even as a mirage rising over the sands, that the thirsty mistaketh for water. The wine of this world is but a vapour in the desert, its pity and compassion but toil and trouble, the repose it proffereth only weariness and sorrow.
-’Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, 1978, p.186.

Abandon it for the dawning splendours,
the heavenly table, the gladdening riches,
the blissful mind, the attracted heart--you say.
And so I try to make what I have written:
free of dubious gossip, exaggeration, accurate,
truthful, free of fantasy, bias, carelessness,
comprehensive, intimate,
a mirror dawdling down the road,
a pianist striking many notes--
clear, deep, full and rapidly like Lizst,
emptying my pocket of life
at the end of the day.

I have been and am, passionately in it,
thinking intently, hopefully fruitfully,
to woo combinations and inspirations
from some depth in the river,
from some continuity of attention
and meditation but-as you say-not of it-
saturated but supersaturated
with those gladdening riches,
that heavenly table, that heart--
for the real battle is with myself
and loss is so very obvious,
it seems just about inevitable
on my way(I trust, I hope, I pray)
to victory through these thousand
vanished and present things,
swarming with people,
stray bits of conversations,
wandering words, merest grains,
specks of truth, beauty,
scarce visible to my common eye
in the vast array of stuff, endless words,
repetition and confusion and tiny nuggets,
washed free of accretions and hammered
into sacred hardness and revelation.

Ron Price
28 September 1995


Ours is the play our part, however small, in this greatest drama of the world’s spiritual history.-Shoghi Effendi, 21 March 1930, in The World Order of Baha’u’llah, USA, 1974, p.26.

Even when all these marble edifaces
with their inaccessible mysteries and
their attendant gardens are complete
we are still faced with ordinary dust.
The domestic orange trees will still
be as unendearing as ever, contented
perhaps in their green universe, having
been taught submission (you can tell by
their roundness). The geraniums will
still be as pedestrian and obtuse as ever.

The only thing you’ve got here, mate,
is what you have lavishly invested
with your aspiration and belief.
You can grow weary of nightingales
and peacocks, the uselessness of words,
the fruitlessness of speculation. You’ll
find here among the frail petals no formula
for perfection. The disinterested cypresses,
even though they point heavenward, will
offer no certain answer to your questions.

The jasmine may captivate your senses
and paralyse your will, but the sense of urgency
will not leave you nor this place for some time;
for the hour is perilous and dark and the rush
of history is moving toward the climax of a
spiritual drama of staggering magnitude
which so few are yet aware: be warned!

Just resume your ordinary life with its
deadlines and schedules. the taxi will soon
speed you to your destination. The airport
can sell you a postcard of the place which
will soon be the stage for the enactment of
several critical acts in a play of unsurpassed
holiness. Have a safe trip home.

Ron Price
28 December 1995


If this unearthly Love has power to make
my life immortal and to shake ambition
into some fitting portal where I brim
my measure of contentment and with merest whim
search, poorly, after fame, then ‘tis a Love
that I shall keep ‘til the call from above-
and then...
-With thanks to John Keats, Endymion, lines 843-47.

These things of beauty will be joys forever
and their loveliness will increase
far down the centuries and ages.
Eras will not see these wonders pass into nothingness.
Dreams and quiet places sweet and still
will fill these marbled flower gardens
binding us to primal points of holy seat
made for our searching. Such beauty
moves us far beyond incipient sadness;
takes this young sprouting freshness
canalized in energy-lamps everywhere
in the vineyard. Such grandeur cools
in the hot season and sprinkles our air
with musk-rose blooms, strengthening
our loins in submissive worship.

Such wonder, too, for and with the dead
who have entered the garden of happiness
now circle ‘round us in mystic intercourse,
in circles here--all so dear with the moon
which haunts then cheers as light and seems
to bind our very souls clear and tight.
This place, I prefer it have no name, its music
brings a joy to valley, mountain, plain.
The early buds are out now, milk in pails
is coming down the lane
while lush juicy fruits are being brought in
by sail in little boats-I’ve got one-I steer
in many quiet hours down deeper streams
where I hear bees hum in globes of clover.

Autumn brings its universal tinge of sober gold
to this world on mountain side wherein I hold
such thought that can only be described as bliss.
The trumpets have already blown and, now, my path
is dressed in green, in flowers, indeed a marble bath.
Those assembled ‘round the shrines had looks of veneration,
‘twould be here for many years to come, each generation
would have its awed face, companions in a mountain chase.
I therefore reveal unto thee sacred and resplendent tokens
from the planes of glory to attract thee into the court of
holiness and nearness and beauty, and draw thee to a station...
And I had been drawn into gardens of such fruit, such orient lights.

For here is the heavenly abode in the Centre of earthly realities
and here I am, as if led by some midnight spirit nurse
of happy changes toward some magic sleep,
toward some soaring bird easing upward
over the troubled sea of man. The words
found here sound a strange minstrelsy,
have tumbling waves in echoing caves:
a silvery enchantment is to be found
in this mazy world with its new song,
its upfurled wings which renovate our lives.

Try them! You may open your eyelids
with a healthier brain. Some influence rare
goes spiritual through this Damsel’s hand;
it runs quick, invisible strings all over the land
making of fame and renoun far lesser lights
unless it be for the exaltation of this Cause.1

1 From a prayer by Baha’u’llah sent to the author by Roger White.

Ron Price
26 May 1995


And Chips of Blank-in Boyish Eyes-
And scraps of Prayer-
And Death’s surprise,
Stamped visible-in Stone-
Contenteder-to die-
-Emily Dickinson, Number 639.

So many of His troops have dropped
like flakes upon the ground,
stars across the heavens have
shot, come quick and gone.
The gentler souls like petals
off the rose, a spring wind or rain
just scattered them amidst a world
of woes. They perished, six generations,
in the seamless grass, across forbidding
mountains over which few did pass.
He keeps track somehow of this list
of troops which come and go each year
as if each were a snowflake, a dew drop,
a flower, or His precious namesake.

Ron Price
29 October 1995


.....the certainty that only joy is adequate to define us.
-Roger White, “Tally”, The Language of There, p.73.

He had one of those red faces
that made you think he’d been drinking
the night before. It was fitting really,
for he always seemed to be on boil.
Why he took a dislike to me, I’ll never know.
Perhaps I was too much the academic;
perhaps it was my column in the paper.
I always thought envy was a component
in much of human relations.
Perhaps I was just one of the many
he disliked. He never told me why.
And I never asked. But he kept me on boil
for, what was it, eighteen months to two years.

I learned much about the difference
between love and like. He burned me quite raw.
Took me to the edge of my fears, my inadequacies,
the depth/shallowness of my love.
He was one of my greatest teachers:
he stuck my nose in a maismal ooze
from which I have only slowly, painfully,
inched my consequential and necessary way.

He was a good terror, a famine of my soul.
He still calls me urgently from my dreams,
having stomped all over my heart in hobnail boots,
all over my joy which has defined me
over these epochs so sharply
against a backdrop of pain and a rapture
which might, just might, confer
an immortality of even more joy,
bliss and heavenly delight:
we shall see.

Ron Price
30 December 1995


These apocalyptic elegies are indeed not conventional expressions of consolation but triumphant outbursts the dead and Emily Dickinson’s own anguish distilled...into triumph.1 Here, in this poem below, is my own triumphant outburst with my usual cautionary note derived from Bahá'í theology regarding our final moments. -Ron Price with thanks to 1Benjamin Lease, Emily Dickinson’s Readings of Men and Books: Sacred Soundings, MacMillan, London, 1990, p.xvii.

All across the world they lie
behind grey stone
and obscurest graveyards
in places noone’s heard
on the edge of town.
Yes, heaven’s humble handful
and not-so-humble,
among simple stones
and not-so-simple.
Hardly heroes, hardly known:
servants, gentlemen, ladies,
every conceiveable type,
they're all here behind stone.

Words carved by unknown hands:
Pioneer Canada Nine Year Plan.
He’d planned his. Knew who he was.
Identity grew into stone
that would last a thousand years.
He was going to end this one befittingly;
I mean it was his life, himself,
his mirror of some eternal hyacinth
growing forever in a garden
of eternal splendour, forged,
cut diamond-edged, glittering whiteness
on that snow-white path so close,
touching that Crimson Pillar
and trustworthiness’s pillar of light.
He would, at least, feel it.
Wouldn't he?

Ron Price
28 October 1995


As Price’s pioneering life moved on from place to place he taught children, adolescents and then adults, from age 3 to 63, and an incredible array of subjects, mostly self-taught: sociology, history, psychology, human relations, behavioural studies, the history of ideas, social sciences, English literature, politics, ancient history, welfare studies, communication studies, media studies, management studies, philosophy, anthropology, and on and on. Yes, it was solitary work, but the teaching of it was inevitably social, interactive, always spurred on by his desire to sew divine seeds for future harvests and, by the fourth epoch, a certain other-worldly ambition. Although many of his students came to be close to him few, except in 1972, acquired this new loyalty. Although his faith was shaken severely on two, perhaps three, occasions, it weathered the storms, the tempest, that was harrowing up the souls of mankind. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript.

As need and curiosity prompted, Shaw taught himself shorthand and bookkeeping, penmanship and public speaking, economics and etiquette, score-reading and dialogue writing-most of it solitary work spurred on by a kind of other-worldly ambition...Shaw never had disciples...He added to his information or shifted his batteries, but his faith has been the same since its first stilted expression in the early fiction. -Jacques Barzun, The Energies of Art: Studies of Authors Classic and Modern, Harper and Brothers, NY, 1956, p.251.

So much of what we do and think
has unknown origins and goes
toward unknown destinations,
has nothing to do with the moral,
but is simply part of the vague,
multiform spectacle of human life,
where tendencies are so various,
circumstances too complex,
for a single definition.

Then, there are those moments
when we are alone, deeply,
on a summer day with the sky
lonely and blue, pure,
and I am not running,
thrust into the maelstrom,
the busyness of it all.
This presence of God
vanishes with others
unless I keep remembering:

Enter thou among My servants,
And enter thou My paradise.

I ripen all that I write in the dark,
waiting for the death of self,
that I may be nothing
and walk,untrapped by mind,
my heart made ready
for the descent of heavenly grace.*

Ron Price
15 September 1995

*Baha’u’llah, Seven Valleys, USA, 1952, p. 51.


I saw no Way-the Heavens were stitched-
I felt the Columns close-
The Earth reversed her hemispheres-
I touched the Universe-
-Emily Dickinson, Number 512.

There is no first and last here;
all is forever, the feeling near,
noon and centre and a tear,
more than one, for all that’s
gone before and what is to come.

There is a taste of immortality
on these tall marble columns,
the beginnings of a touch of gold
that one senses deep down will
be forever. Many will be the words
that try to describe the trip, but wordless
the conception, tenacious my feeble grip.

When this brief drama in the flesh
shifts beyond our mortal coil,
I hope that I can hover here
in my sub-atomic soul so fresh
where I can juxtapose this time
and immortality in some eternal rhyme.

Meanwhile I’ll take the angles on this place
as they accost my open eye,
‘tis more than walls and gardens green,
more than land and sky.

One beauteous line that I espy
a spider sewed at night,
an arc of light, an arc of white,
such precision in his sight.

Sometimes a bird will walk along
and drink a dew from grass;
with rapid eyes he’ll hurry ‘round
and stir in his sweet song, alas:
he divides this silver world with wings
as he goes splashing past.

So do the butterflies float by
among these banks of noon;
their wings dance through this ocean
and gently they sing of soon!

Ron Price
15 June 1995


But his sojourn in the Black Pit had brought more than temporary disabilities: an inner transformation had occurred which transcended all physical limitations, bathing him with that robe of light which was to be his for a lifetime.
-David S. Ruhe, Robe of Light: The Persian Years of the Supreme Prophet Baha’u’llah 1817-1853, George Ronald, 1994, p.164.

His heavily laden soul,
replete with potent energies,
agonized but overwhelmed now
by a most sweet voice that pierced
the gloom of that pestilential pit,
brought a new radiance like a
shining vesture: the wonder of it,
the cyclonic images released like
a torrent in this Trumpet Blast,
this flow of living waters, the
warbling of a Nightingale of
Paradise and the appearance
of the Maid of Heaven and the
I am God! Such were these
sprinklings from a light cloud
in these days of evident sorrow.

Ron Price
27 December 1995

AT LEAST IN PART gods will give us
Some faults to make us men.
-Shakespeare, Anthony and Cleopatra, Act 5, Scene 1, lines 32-33.

When I look back on all those days gone by
and ponder in that mirror the what and why,
I see a host of spots of heaven in the midst
of taints and faults. I see seductive ploys that
seemed to emasculate, deceitful postures in the
service of my lust and age. Yet the clearest
ennoblement, like magic, high events, beyond
fortune’s humble and necessary minions, makes
these present actions expedient and opportune,
creates a kind of artistry, mixed with an improvising
shaping of events, and a final heroic grandeur, far
beyond my weakness and foolhardiness, this heed-
lessness that boils my blood and veins. Long ago He
did conquer my heart and I still do try to conquer self,
at least in part.

Ron Price
1 December 1996


This poem was started at a morning breakfast sitting in the garden of the home of a friend. It was finished the next morning at home, on further reflection. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 30 September, 1996, 10:25 am, Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday.

This green carpet, more than Persian,
goes beyond the patio reaching up
to blue sky covering the heavens
as the smell of bacon and sausages cooking
mixes with fresh spring air.
Bees drink nectar from orange-yellow nasturtiums
and vines kiss the bricks here, below my feet
in this early evening of my life,
while I suffer even though I think I have attained,
confronted by ostensible paradox
and a fine, enigmatic subtlety,
behind love’s austere and lonely offices
where my soul is always nurtured.

Ron Price
30 September 1996


For he was not yet anchored in himself and in his work; he was one of those to whom such anchorage was forever being denied.
-From Letters to a Young Poet: Rianer Maria Rilke, trans. M. Norton, WW Norton and Co., NY, 1954, p.94.

After living in thirty-six houses in twenty-two towns, from 1962 to 1987, spread across two of the world’s great continents; after having been burnt out in places as far afield as Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island and Launceston in Tasmania I feel like a survivor who has lived to tell the story. If what I have got now is not anchorage, nothing is.
-Ron Price, 9:00 am, 3 January 1996, Rivervale, Australia.

I can feel that heaven’s just ‘round the bend
and I’ll soon retire there.
I trust that I’ll have earned a place
to read in comfort in a chair.

I understand it’s partly grace
that determines the final score
and that all the running ‘round you do
won’t get you through the door.

While I wait I’ll find a place
as quiet as can be,
a place of peace, a place of rest,
a place of tranquillity.

I’ve run around for thirty years
to try and change the world.
Partly, too, I did not like to sit
too long in my own small pool.

But now I’ve found a world within,
solitary and sweet as honey.
I draw my chair around me close
and bring a silence into me.

I don’t mean to say that all is ease,
for sickness yields to health
and so much is waiting, patience too,
to discover a true and only wealth.

So, while I wait to turn that bend
I’ll wind my thoughts upon the page
and let life happen as it must
in this the most great cage.

Ron Price
3 January 1996


...the fullness of poetry-poetry alone, which never imprisons itself in any one thing or group of things, but spreads itself throughout the cosmos.
-Benedetto Croce, The Poetry of Dante, Paul P. Appel, Pub., Mamaroneck, NY, 1971, p.254.

The two and thirty palaces to which I
turn my eye now filled with this pantheon
of people who once inhabited earth now sky,
laid out in concentric circles seeming fit
for this exercise in partly holy writ.
Where to put this God-intoxicated host,
on this otherwordly map like some eternal ghost,
will require an exercise of great feat
which I will indulge in from this seat
for a short time unless some spirits grab
and take me far into some labyrinth and stab
me with their immortal coil,
boiling over with their spiritual oil:
we shall see what transpires in this rich soil.

At the centre we seem to find Baha’u’llah
and around this Point revolves the Bab,
while in some innermost circle is ‘Abdu’l-Baha
and the Guardian, all in a blaze of light
that makes their visages indistinguishable
to this casual passer-by who has merely placed
them in his inner eye. Perhaps he’d add Quddus
and Mulla Husayn, those Letters of the Living,
Martha Root, departed Hands in the next concentric
circle, like some place, some holy of holies and
then, surrounding this tabernacle of light, I saw
verdant gardens with fruits of communion and
blossoms beside some orient lights of yearning
and souls, indeed, shaking as if flashing, being drawn
away from their earthly homeland in their alabaster
chambers to their heavenly abode near this Centre
of Realities with the wind of certitude blowing over
the garden of their beings.

Ron Price
12 January 1996


The only method to knowledge is the method of the artist, for there is no absolute knowledge. All knowledge is stamped with our imperfection, or its, or both. For the world is not a fixed, solid array of objects. It shifts under our gaze and must be interpreted by us, by an act of judgement. The entire experience of life is more delicate, more fragile, more fugitive and startling than we can ever catch in the butterfly net of our senses. -Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man, Science Horizons Inc., 1973, pp.353-364.

While this wondrous Administration, the precursor
of a new Order, has been taking form this century,
our very notion of space and time was being redefined
by Albert Einstein. The world we are all in, we can not
experience with our senses; invisible to our eyes,
beyond our touch: protons, neutrons, leptons,
DNA, RNA, not just meaningless dancing atoms.
Even matter itself we created for the first time in
these days when this Administration was first
taking form. So many immortal creations in this
century: mapping the universe, the mind. We’ve seen
the universe in a grain of sand and made our heaven
of a flower; infinity and eternity we now hold in our hand
and we can trace all of existence in less than an hour.

Ron Price
23 March 1996


Cupid was an emblem of the heart, in Greek mythology. Psyche was the personification of the soul and represented by the form of butterfly wings. Psyche suffered a great deal in her efforts to learn about love and faith. After much suffering, caused by the jealousy of her sisters and her own inability to keep a promise, Cupid and Psyche were married. -Ron Price from H.A. Guerber,Greece and Rome: Myths and Legends, Chancellor Press, London, 1995(1907), pp. 127-137.

Such a happy ending after wandering,
a victim of the heart’s desires and the
slings and arrows of mysterious fortune!
Is it always so?

Such beauty, such a heavenly gem, delicate
sweetness, mystery of mysteries, moves and
is still, whose fruit, whose light, a butterfly.
Is it always so?

No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense
can tell of Her divinely ordained and subtle reality,
fairer than the sapphire-regioned galaxies
or bowers of flowers.
Is it always so?

This heart’s home of fleeting fancies takes Her
airy lightness far from its vitalizing power, beauteous
hour, resplendent luminaries of the atom or drop.
Is it always so?

Your visage appears warn, loveliest vision
in heaven’s unknown hierarchy, enjoying closeness
to thousands of other dancing wings,
but stained now with earthly desires,
the taint of Your memories,
Your waywardness, a remoteness
from Your own wondrous beauty,
its vast and inner mysteries.
Is it always so?

Even though You have been preoccupied
with Your patterns which can not fatten
nor appease the hunger, You can but sing
and be great choirs as well as moan
in late night fires. You’ll be a shrine,
a grove, a pipe, for Your own soul
linked to some eternal Light.
Is it always so?


The Four Quartets was not planned. It grew. Parts of it came quickly. Much of it left him feeling that the whole thing might have to be scrapped. It was finally published in England on 31 October 1944. I was three months old at the time. The major sources of the poem are Eliot’s experiences, both actual and revived. -Ron Price, On reading The Composition of Four Quartets, Helen Gardner, Faber and Faber, London, 1978, chapters 2 and 3.

When Eliot was writing The Four Quartets a world was ending; WWII was being fought. While Price was writing Anticipation that old world was still going through its death pangs and the new one, born in the writings of twin-manifestations and their legitimate successors, had in recent years emerged from obscurity. That emergence had yet to be registered on the consciousness of countless multitudes. This poem was written on the day Price received the announcement of the launching of the Four Year Plan one of whose aims was to see that these countless multitudes had registered on their consciousness this emergence from obscurity. Price drew on material in The Four Quartets and he drew on his own experiences past and present. Price derived much pleasure from writing the poem, although he could not help but be skeptical about the poem’s ultimate value to others and to the Baha’i community for whom the poem was ultimately intended as a literary enrichment. -Ron Price, 1:45 pm, Wednesday, 31 January 1996, Comment on the poem below.

I. They Are Coming:

So much time, time and half a time,
future, past and present all rolled
into a line and a dot and concentric
circles as I speculate with memory
and anticipation hugging at my shores,
with His words coming out of my pores.
To what purpose you ask? ‘Tis embedded
in this Dust to which I am wedded.

So many echoes inhabit this garden,
but I can not follow them all. I trust
they won’t all turn to silence; and I
can follow them urgently from my dreams.
With some bird of Paradise or a humble seagull
I can be lifted into their presence, the sound of their
low and mystic call and the magic at their gate where the
groaning of them that are devoted to Thee
can be heard and the beauty of the unseen
is savoured in this dearest home of Dust.

Sunlight glitters on this emerald green grass,
apple green hedges and white marble, a bird
sings: come, come, come, people have need
of celestial beauty and the reality of divinity.
All of time points toward the future, here,
right here, the future is in the bone and a joy,
a joy that defines us. While these words reach into a
silence below all that is history and the future, the now,
the stillness at the centre of this Dust, this holy Dust.

Off in the distance an axis where, spread out like
pearls on an island line, the world is cut in twain
and a dance along this great artery of life is figured
in the drift of stars and this drift of spiritual potency,
like some magnet attracts new life replacing at long last
the old and soon to-be-forgotten wars. While back at
the still point, the world turns; for here is
the real dance where all of time is gathered;
here, at this still point, the dance finds
its origin and its highest wish. For all there
is, is the dance and its wondrous release,
its grace, its boundlessness and what seems like
endless white light, concentrated, partial ecstacy,
protecting humankind from heaven’s endless
mysteries and what the flesh cannot endure.

And time, at last, is conquered and given
order, specificity, pattern and memory
here in this garden-by-the-sea, this place
of affection, where affection is cleansed,
where lucid form is invested with
stillness, shadows are turned into transient
beauty and permanence is tasted.
Here flickers of light dance and fill with
fancy and meaning the intersticies of lives
whirled by cold winds that still blow for more
of time than we’d wish to see.

But unhealthy souls come here, too,
driven by winds that sweep the gloomy
mountainside at times, driven by the
tempest which still blows unprecedented
in its magnitude. They seem unable
to descend into the world of perpetual
solitude, indeed, any solitude at all. Their
words, you find, will often strain, crack,
even break, under the burden, tension and
there will be mocking and more than just
chattering. This new Word in the desert
will be attacked by many voices while shafts
of sunlight continue to fall upon the Dust,
houses will fall and crumble, will be removed
and become as ashes, as the wind breaks loosened panes.

Of course, on a summer evening you can hear
the music here and see a dancing of the spheres.
Dawn points to another day, the long hoped for calm,
an autumnal serenity and, at last, the wisdom of age.
He and They have given us patterns, a foothold, but
there is so much that is new and immensely complex
in the moment and the day. And there is humility.
For the silent funeral is, at long last, ending and
they are starting to walk into the light: civil servants,
directors, men of science, chairmen, industrialists,
technologists, engineers, on and on they come.

II: We Are Getting Ready

For that bold and imposing facade is just about rolled away.
The lights are being extinguished in the theatre and
the new action is starting to take place, often tentative,
difficult, no easy trip, sometimes frightening, as it is in
all new begnnings. But we sit and stare: hoping, loving,
waiting with faith and thought---for we are now ready for
thought like the whispering of running streams, a wild
thyme and wild strawberries with laughter, at last, in
our garden, pointing to that consecrated joy, its agony,
its death and its birth and what we do not know, but will
learn slowly, necessarily in our years ahead, sometimes painfully.

For this is a raid on the articulate, a thousand voices with
a million messages and, of course, there are some for me.
My equipment’s getting better and the imprecision of feeling
is being replaced by a discipline to say what must be said,
a trying to say what must be said in this strange and mysterious
home where a lifetime burns in every moment, mostly at a low flame,
otherwise I would burn up in this intensity, but I am mostly cool.

I, too, have never known much about the gods, or God, but in
these forty years I have learned about the river within and the
sea all around; the great abyssal plains into which it flows,
sinks and is still; the beaches on which it tosses while the white
bird calls across the water in low cool notes and a rush of wings;
I have learned of the shells, the delicate algae, the endless sand.
I have lingered by the sea, walking along its shores and swimming
in its refreshing waters, sometimes burning myself in the sun. It
always seems to ask for more, but not urgently, like some compelling
force of attraction over which I have little control.

There are so many voices, though, that come from the sea
and from the world, they drift endlessly to me.
First, there are the silent sounds: the withering of flowers,
the growing of grass, the drifting wreckage of humanity
that I will never see, their heart-aches, the emotion and
emotionless years in this dark-heart of a transitional age.
The boat has gone on drifting with its slow leak and
it has nearly sunk, only a few more bells to toll, only
some more wasteage: for the destination calls now, clearly.
This haul does bear examination and, as you say, there is
no end to it: the flowers will wither and wither and life will
cease to be a mere sequence, experience. We approach
the meaning, that of generations, that of the ineffable.
For the future, here, is both faded song and Royal Rose,
a spray of regret and joy. For the past is never finished,
the future is always here and the fruit of action is now,
this process, this doing, this Presence. And so I pray
for all those who voyage forth and for myself, for I am
the music, the indwelling God, the intersection of eternity
and time. I am the intersection of ardour, selflessness, self-
surrender, the unattended moment, heedlessness, evil doings
His benevolence, a melted heart and boiled blood.

III. The Beginning in the End:

The mystic and the practical, the active and contemplative
become one and right action is freedom in submission, with
past and present enriching all that is and will be. At least
this is the aim, slowly to be realized in this springtime,
seemingly suspended in time, up there on the mountain side,
between pole and tropic, between frost and fire, between
melting and freezing the soul’s sap quivers, neither budding
nor fading, with a bloom more sudden than summer thought to give
and a voluptuary sweetness in the hedges and terraces, sweeter
than you ever thought would be, altered beyond your dreams,
nearest now and in old Israel, home of our fathers, and their fathers.

And what have you come here for: to kneel and pray,
to communicate with the dead whose tongue is on fire
beyond our language, our living, where timeless time
and my moment intersect and the arts and wonders of the
world come to be manifest, unobtrusively. You come here,
too, to be close to the Dust, to taste of the roses before your
petals finally rust and your glad days are gone, torn from
the trees seemingly like unremembered leaves the wind weaves.
And you shall dry up in the dust with a ring to remind the Earth
that you came from God and you return to some new birth.

The dead leaves rattled on like tin, blown toward me like
you thought they’d go on blowing forever, unresistable,
in this urban dawn, half forgotten even now, half remembered,
brown baked strangers intimate yet unidentifiable, things
that have served their purpose, last season’s fruit, last year’s
words waiting for another voice, this voice, this new voice.
Amidst these dreary sounds, this death and birth and change,
amidst the agony and the solitary vigil, the eternal comes nearer
and the two worlds approach and history becomes transfigured,
renewed in its servitude to the living God.

This beginning is also an end, an end of so much that has been.
This beginning has a million words, a billion million, dancing
together in concert: all beginnings in an end, like some wondrous
epitaph, elegy for all that hath been and will be. And we go on
exploring, coming to understand this place for the first time
in this stillness between the waves of non-existence and eternity,
with a simplicity in which we read the book of our self and God.

Ron Price
31 January 1996


This is the poet-whom the people ignore in this life,
And who is recognized only after he bids the earthly
World farewell and returns to his arbor in heaven.
Poet, you will one day rule the hearts, and
Therefore, your kingdom has no ending.
-Kahlil Gabran, A Treasury of Kahlil Gibran, Castle Books, NJ, 1978, pp.300-301.

In this great burgeoning of poets
and humanity’s billions multiplying
in a world turning on its head, a tempest
gripping us all in its devastating clutches,
a poet gets lost in the lonely crowd, ignored,
perhaps forever, his words piled high in a mass
of print impossible to measure and which he will
leave behind as he sits in his new arbor composing
songs that require no publishers, readers or pages.

This is the kingdom of never-ending hearts, of
celestial trees, of nests of refuge, of gardens of
praise, of fame, the precincts where true renoun
is measured justly at last in a kingdom that has
no ending and we drink deep in a world of light.

Ron Price
12 May 1996


With the growth of the axial religions in the last four thousand years, heaven has gradually become accessible to all. The underlying urge to self-transcendence and to a new and universal community has also evolved. A teeming vitality and an exhilarating inventiveness entered civilized life producing much greater effort than existed in tribal and clan societies.
-Ron Price with thanks to Lewis Mumford, The Transformations of Man, Harper Torch Books, NY, 1956.

Progressively over millennia, ice age
after ice age, fire, music and endless
maternal indulgence, a sense of awe
planted with cosmic aloneness amidst
images whose excess made for neuroses,
amidst wishes which fathered thought,
amidst words whose wonder filled a
naming and creating oneness, amidst a
dramatization of life that eventually brought
a lingering over and elaborating of our natural
life where we became more human by gesture,
word and format act, by ground and polished
tools and face-to-face primary community.

Then some Adamic garden, a new and sacred wisdom
of the elders, a revelation of a sense of aweful limits
which have now, in our time, been removed for rape,
torture and murder to run through our time like some
rampant disease, hand-in-hand with a gradual revelation
of our own selves from a mysterious empyrean of Divine Will.

Ron Price
14 September 1996


On Christmas day 1241 the armies of Batu Khan, the founder of the Golden Horde, crossed the Danube while a disunited kingdom of the West lay at their mercy. The Mongol invasion of Europe was entering its final phase, and it all seemed as if Christendom was about to be destroyed by soldiers from Hell. -Inside dust jacket of The Devil’s Horsemen: The Mongol Invasion of Europe, James Chambers, Atheneum, NY, 1979.

By Christmas Day 1995, a full one hundred years after the first teachers had gone west, the armies of the Lord of Hosts had scattered across the surface of the Earth. As the second century of this spiritual conquest of the planet opened the stage was set for the greatest drama in the world’s spiritual history. There had been other dramas in the world’s long and tortured history. This one had had a long and unobtrusive prelude in a series of Plans for well-nigh sixty years. The watchword for this drama was the unification of the human race; its consummation the Kingdom of God on Earth.
-Ron Price, 9:00 am, Sunday 7 December 1996.

Just before Dante was born and
the Crusades were going on in
earnest; before colonization, the
waning of the Middle Ages and
the Hundred years War; while
democracy was just getting its
start in England, the Mongols
rode five and a half thousand
miles in two years from their
capital at Karakorum to threaten
western civilization.

These evil ‘Tatars’ were
the best war machine of the time,
arguably the best in history
depending on how you define ‘best’,
a nomadic civilization from the Steppes
who were a model for the art of war.
But when unity of command was broken
their empire collapsed.
The cloud of Mongol terror
and its cataclysmic expansion finally disappeared.
It awoke Europe from its sleepy isolation
and sent Persian and Arab culture into decline.

Through a complex series of processes
leading into Moslem Spain,
a new renaissance was born in Europe.
Through another series of processes
Russia and eastern Europe
became feudal and backward.

The Mongols conquered half the known world
in about fifty years in this last of a series
of nomad invasions from the steppes,
invasions that threatened civilization in the west.
Now, a new nomad has appeared,
much more complex, multi-definitioned, not obvious;
this time a force for social good.
The travel-teacher-international pioneers,
astir and restless, eager and filled with a sense of urgency,
a thirst for truth and a dangerous encounter with reality,
flinging their souls across the page of life, living life to the full:
Their brilliant jewels may irradiate upon centuries and cycles.
As they strive to crown their heads
with the shining diadem* of the Kingdom
they will, gradually, change the course of history
and lay the seeds that will one day threaten
the institutions of political and religious orthodoxy.

This is a spiritual engagement with none of the attributes of war;
this is a new kind of war whose swords are a virtuous character;
whose shield and defender are the hosts of a heavenly kingdom;
whose garments, the protection of a Covenant;
power and courage are obtained from arising and teaching;
comfort in battle, a new and luminous Word;
you and I are the ransom in this war;
the heavenly armies are the Concourse on High and yourself;
the main battle is with yourself and the object of the battle
is the citadel of people’s hearts.

After thirty-three years and four months
I still find an excitement, a thrill.
But I fight on a stoney, narrow and often tortuous path.
A cohort, a regiment, a soldier I fight
against my instincts and the world of my lower nature
in a battle to my death. I lose many of the skirmishes and battles,
in a wearisome round that utterly exhausts the spirit
and I have wished for death for many a long year,
but usually at the end of a long march,
after being in the trenches, after enduring rapid cross-fires
and getting hit so many times I wonder how the old body
can keep coming back for more.
But then the spirit soars, now, now that a heavenly garden
has actually appeared on Earth, on the mountain of the Lord.
And even if I lose my battle, which it often seems I will,
I know that those heavenly armies will win the war.**

Ron Price
7 January 1996

* ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan(USA, 1977), p.48.
ibid., p.47.


Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?
-Robert Browning

Go gently into that old familiar night
where old age’s waxen taper burns, burns
into some blazing, new, emergent light
and while you do keep reaching forth
for things quite beyond your grasp and
as you do you just may sail into that
ocean ‘s sacred strand, ethereal, invisible
station, a snow-white spot of great intensity,
and mysteries hidden in seas of light.

Ron Price
28 July 1996


The peace that comes is a positive feeling which crowns life and the journey of the soul. It is difficult to define and to speak of. It has little to do with hope and the future or with the present and its details. It is a broadening of feeling, is essentially unverbalizable and is experienced as an integration and coordination of values. There is something new flowing in one’s veins, like the sea. You feel clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars. You sing and delight in God, some inner life; you wish the happiness of other people and you enjoy the world, it seems like for the first time.

This peace is a complex composite, though: fear, anxiety, anger still come and go through the heart and mind, but in lower, easier, intensities. A new sadness and sorrow rests on the brow like leaves blowing on the ground weaving familiar, doleful, patterns. A solemn consciousness has formed, the central wellspring of that peace and a new joy. -Ron Price with thanks to Thomas Traherne, A.N. Whitehead and the Universal House of Justice, Department of the Secretariat: in The Apple and the Spectroscope, T.R. Henn, W.W. Norton and Co., 1966, pp.143-144 and a Letter, 3 April 1991, respectively.

There’s an easiness to it all, an ease of mind,
kind of laid back, but with enough energy to
move mountains, though you don’t try them
any more. You could call it peace, but I don’t
think of it as peace, more a quiet sweetness,
like a honey pot, not just your simple honey pot
mind you, this one’s tinctured with poison, some
sadness, undefined, unknown, but felt like an old tree,
twisted-knots, with age, came from all those years, now
far from the twisted reach of a crazy sorrow, as Dylan called it.
The heat’s gone, all that trying and endless earnestness.
This new and solemn consciousness, formed from endless
drops dropping and a river flowing finally on its course
to the sea where an even greater peace and joy await.

Ron Price
5 May 1996


What I want to do is....discuss the spirit in which we face our trials and also our constitution and the way of life which has made us great....We are free and tolerant in our private lives but in public affairs we keep to the should fix your eyes every day on the greatness of Athens as she really is, and should fall in love with her.....One's sense of honour is the only thing that does not grow old...having the respect of one's fellow men. -Pericles' funeral oration 431/30 BC in History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides, Penguin, 1988(1972), pp.143-151.

What I want to do is speak in memory
of the spirit which enriches the tragic
and heroic annals of the inspiring
religious experience behind a place
we fix our eyes on daily and which we
have come to love, venerate, contemplate
with wonder in these intensely dramatic,
fate-laden years whose dynamic spirit has
uplifted our expectant hearts and opened the
doors of heaven wide to pour forth benedictions.
There is a greatness here, a wondrous greatness,
as there is in our own small lives as we find our
happiness, our well-being, our bliss and delight
in bringing the same to our fellow human beings.

Ron Price
25 April 1996


What was it that grew for Wordsworth was some power from the past, some charm and vision recollected, sweet sensations relived even sweeter. In addition a certain ineffable bliss seemed to spread over all that moved and all that was still, all that was invisible yet was housed in his heart. He also told of a promise of things to come. His daily life offered little of poetic value, bare as it was of entertainment and interest.
-Stephen Gill, William Wordsworth: A Life, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1989.

What was it that grew for Price was some quiet presence, some solemn consciousness, itself a wellspring of the most exquisite consecrated and celebratory joy. His home had slowly become not a negative retreat from the 'real world', but a place where, through reflection and study, he could express his life-long dedication to high endeavour and all that had passed before him on that long journey. There was, too, in this autobiographical poetry a promise of much to come in the drama ahead.
-Ron Price with appreciation to Stephen Gill and his interpretation of the life of William Wordsworth in William Wordsworth: A Life.

A quiet presence seems to grow
I know not how, or where or when,
like some deep pool. Some large tree
I see blown strong and lonely in the
wind; at times it is sublime, mostly
without rhyme, unshared, rushing to
my finger-tips across the years and
decades of my time, being cast from
my teeming brain by some new epochal
configurations, some richly textured tapestry
made with the tenderest of kind touches.

Some new consciousness has dawned and
what I create and half perceive in nature,
history and society like some anchor, some
kaleidoscope of images tells and tastes of
newness, spirit, the light of suns and my
own dear blessedness acquired on a journey
half-way round this world as a heavenly herald
for centuries and cycles, sewing seeds, finding
blessings and bestowals and collecting memories
that will enrich me for eternity with the fresh leaves,
blosoms and fruits of a consecrated joy.

Ron Price
10 March 1996


By Allah, I care nothing for poetry, and there is nothing worse in my eyes than that.
-Jalal al-Din Rumi in Mystical Poems of Rumi, trans A.L. Arberry, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1968, p.5.

O lovers, lovers, the time of union and encounter has come. The proclamation from heaven has come,,,
-Jalal al-Din Rumi, ibid., 11.

I feel that spiritual breeze which, you say,
Rumi, burnishes of all sorrow; but it is only
in the moments of silence and stopped breath,
some wellspring of solemn consciousness where
the spirit seems to empty and I yearn for the city
of the placeless, far, far from its bestial home here
among the concupiscible appetites, the exhaustion
and a dryness that has sucked the juices all away.

Sweet-breathed Minstrel, blow upon my soul the
zephyrs of beauty that cross this mountain of holiness
so that the melody of my reed may be of new cheer and
the taste of sugar may flow through its notes in the night
season and in the morning with a scent of fidelity that may
draw me near to the true mount of faithfulness.

Ron Price
5 April 1996


What Rousseau called the inner self, what was always the same and was timeless, is what I would call the soul. One constructs one’s life out of many moments. This life is a unity, a creation of the creative imagination, said Rousseau. He also said that happiness was not a series of events, deeds, actions and words but the feelings that went with the actions. His autobiography was about this inner world and these feelings. -Ron Price with thanks to Ann Hartle, The Modern Self in Roussseau’s Confessions: A Reply to St. Augustine, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1983.

This inner land that no man can grasp
I can not put in a book; my mind can
not unravel its mystery; it is a place
wherein resides that my humble faith,
my indwelling spirit, awakened so long
ago, an inner life which does not change,
an individuality, God-given, seminal, Sun-
blazened, source and measure of true
dignity, receptacle of a spirit of faith,
connecting link, mirror of its glory, basis
of a future glorified celestial life, a heavenly
gem, spiritual heritage, birthright, bounty.

That inner land that men can grasp I can
put in a book: an attitude, a choosing of
one’s way, effort’s coat of many colours,
it’s refining, educative process, character-
producing, shifting like the sands of time,
changeable as the seasons, full of idle fancies
and vain imaginings, place of confronting,
sober stalking, war zone of regret, melancholy
and madness, multiple identities born of passion
and desire, where one girds up one’s loins against
a host of inner stricksters, deceived and deluded in
a vapourous desert land and pastures of passion, places
of striving and fantasies where true victory is attained.

Ron Price
1 September 1996


Just as Carl Von Clausewitz’s On War was the first systematic exposition of the principles of warfare, so ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablets of the Divine Plan was the first systematic statement on the principles of spiritual warfare. Burnt-out-cases can be found littering the battlefields of both kinds of warfare.
-Ron Price, deepening material in Windsor Ontario, 1966.

Today was a burnt-out-case day:
a ‘please, no more of this; I’ve
had enough of this’ day. Intensity
is too high, too thick, too deep. I
feel like a war-veteran, just too many
guns, too long in the trenches. You
can only hold the Banner* up so long.
Nature, the war against nature, the
endless battles, so many lost I wonder
if the war is winable. Taken out, pulled out,
run out, drawn out, thrown out, dragged out,
sworn out: here I stand. I’ve seen so many
minutes**, they feel like dry boot-leather from
outback Australia at the end of a long dry. I
tell you, man, this has been war for life and
I tire of this drawn-out war, some fear of ordinary
men plays with my feelings. I do not want to play
even with these heavenly armies: shell-shocked,
shock-troops among the rank-and-file--with the
citadels of people’s hearts not-yet-conquered.

Ron Price
18 May 1996

*The Banner of the Greatest Name
** LSA Minutes: first set 1965.


With William Carlos Williams I think you can make a poem out of anything that is felt. I strive to achieve a certain naturalness of style, as if I was talking to you. At one level I feel that what I write is not poetry at all but, on another level, it feels right and it is just what I want to say. I aim at the kind of magnificent rhythms of solitude and togetherness, of contemplation and action, that characterize Mother Tessa Bielecki’s poetry.
-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, January 3rd 1996.
What a writer has to say about his “poems” and their subterranean waters is often dangerous. It may even be scientifically inaccurate. -Walter de la Mare in Forewords and Afterwords, W.H. Auden, Faber and Faber, London, 1973, p.390.

By nine you knew how it was, but
had no idea of how it might be,
for you had seen only your home,
your mother’s brother’s and sister’s
and I Love Lucy: it was 1953, then.

All ordinary enough, then, even now,
looking back over fifty years ago.
Somehow, inexplicably, it was all
transformed, viewed a certain way.
For 1953 was quite a big year,*
not only for us, but for the whole world,
unbeknownst, except for a few, even now.

Yes, viewed a certain way, a vision
transforms the view, the room, their faces,
their workaday, unfrivolous faces,
their astigmatic, dense virtue
blunted from years of trying, trying.

I see, not the prosaic linoleum
and that homely knot, but some lustrous,
unbearable, burnished beauty set in
far down distant tracks on days of
blissful joy, of heavenly delight.**

His hopes and hers, had dried up
with the vegetables in the cellar
and by the time death came

they were sealed in jars, but you

could have seen them through the windows
to their soul and their last words:
it’s his turn now to hold the torch
and I will give you everything I have.**

* 1953: beginning of the Kingdom of God on Earth, ten year crusade, ninth stage of history,
completion of Mother Temple of the West.
** Baha’u’llah’s words on the afterlife.
*** My father’s last words, followed by my mother’s.

Ron Price
3 January 2003


Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of the world, can alter.-Baha’u’llah,Gleanings, p.155.

How is it that the same looking cells-
with the same genetic blueprint-
early in the development of the human
embryo become different tissues?
It’s one of the greatest puzzles in biology.
The recipies are genes; the cookbook
is the chromosomes and the chefs
the protein molecules on DNA

which switch genes on and off.

How is it that the same looking people
with the same basic human physiology
for the first phase of their existence-
some four score years and ten-
have such different soul experiences
after their separation from the body?
It’s one of the greatest puzzles
in the history of religion,philosophy
and theology. The recipies are the
specific theologies of the afterlife;
the cookbooks the Holy Writings
of the great religious traditions
and the chefs the prophetic Teachers.

Ron Price
4 January 1996


‘Abdu’l-Baha states that in the afterlife a lack of progress is tantamount to regression...through pride....or through despair...a person could refuse to ask for forgiveness or repent of one’s a planet slipped from orbit...becoming ultimately so remote from the magnetic attraction of the sun that it flies irretrievably into remoteness.-John S. Hatcher, “Afterlife and the Twin Pillars of Education”, World Order, Fall 1978, p.33.

Remoteness is an insinuating force,
a feeling made of distance.
I heard it when the wind blew strong
in the eaves with some resistance.

I saw it when she turned away,
so quick it chilled my bone.
I’ve felt it often in my soul.
It tastes of Arctic’s zone.

Perhaps it’s a sign of things
to come and frigid corridors,
where sad, cold angels dine alone
behind far off, refrigerated doors.

That tyranny of distance
we’ve all grown to know so well,
might be a hint of ice inside a heart
which just may freeze--in hell.

Remoteness, like tincture of fear,
can lead to repentance for our actions
and, if not felt,we just slip from orbit
and fly irretrievably beyond traction.

Remote from His magnetic force
we can slip beyond the pale
and possibly decline for good,
in diminution’s endless wail.

Ron Price
4 January 1996


In really creative writing the author is making something which he does not understand himself.-T.S. Eliot, “The Aims of Poetic Drama”, Adam, 1951.

There’s a deepest life here,
a kind of new awareness
popping out of the lines, put
there by life, years and years,
and some seedlike process
composed of a myriad things,
actions, become poems that
define it all, that move on out
like some space-wandering
life-form born of intention,
the fires of life-clash, desire
to know, meaning, what is this?
....the world with a centre, with
an electric tang, a golden seam of
joy and a deep dark inwardness that
is rich, quiet and abuzz with life.

These are my years: since the Guardian
gave up his life, ones I’m too close to,
but I strive for perspective, for the pith,
to say to you---these were my years,
our years, the years, our time, when we came
out of obscurity. But you can read this in
any good history. These were the years
I became tired although I tasted that deep,
dark inwardness and a sweetness I thought
I’d never know, mixed with a fatigue that
left me feeling war-warn, and obsessed,
sometimes anyway, with the afterlife,
like an attraction, unnatural to this wider world,
wanting to be delivered, their presence.

Ron Price
19 February 1997


Emily Dickinson wrote a poem about the death and resurrection of Christ(622). The poem expressed her desire to know the sensations, thoughts and emotions which Christ experienced. She speculates but, in the end, gets no answers to her questions and speculations. Drawing on some of the language of the Hidden Words in relation to the afterlife and using Dickinson’s marvellously evocative language from her same poem(622) I have written the poem below.-Ron Price

We know just how He1 suffered:
more than dear.
We know on what He gazed:
brings us near.

What was His final, distant, thought
on that final furthest day:
God and home at last,
a gentle sigh, relief,
the burden gone, so fast?

Confident and tranquil was His soul
as it advanced into immortal realms,
into everlasting consciousness
and majestic, wondrous, helms.

Love past and present met in
some junction, pavilion,
heights, celestial tree
and its sweet savours
of eternity.

Ron Price
30 December 1998

1 Baha’u’llah. Perhaps the main reason we can get close to Baha’u’llah, as both redeemer and manifestation of God, is that we know a great deal about His life and how he suffered.


There are many philosophies of suffering, or explanations of God’s justice and the evil in the world. This poem deals with the Baha’i Faith’s substantiation and clarification of four major philosophies of suffering: Plato’s, Job’s, Boethius’ and Milton’s, in a unique synthesis, a synthesis around the concept of the metaphorical nature of spiritual reality. -Ron Price with appreciation to John Hatcher, The Purpose of Physical Reality, Baha’i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1987,pp. 27-45.

It’s all a footnote to Plato
we’ve been told: with physical
reality a reflection of the spiritual,
everything a sign of God within it.

Job teaches us that God is beyond
our understanding, a mystery, and
that patience and faith are required
in the midst of tribulation.

We must suffer and endure,
nobly, says Boethius, and
find the resolution in the
afterlife not this capricious
existence of remote justice.

Heaven and hell are internal
spiritual conditions and history,
a divine process, Milton said.
We are never beyond redemption
and sin, yielding to unhealthy desires,
requires that we have many chances
if we are to succeed in this world which
is a means of gaining access to that world.1

1 John Hatcher, The Purpose of Physical Reality, 1987, p.76.

Ron Price
31 December 1998


Donald Kuspit states that there is in many of the objects and figures of Modern art the expression of a death wish—all the stronger because of the loss of belief in immortality which is an expression of the life force. There is in Modern art, he goes on, a disintegrated, unstructured, disorganized, messy, almost chaotic look. There is a great effort to inhibit awareness of, to constrain, death in Modern art. Death usually comes in indirectly in the style of art; for to many artists death is unbearable, repressed, the concept of an afterlife a fantasy, an absurdity, a nothingness. They believe we are faced with annihilation, a merciless end-game, non-redemptiveness, no protective emotional security, imminent self-destruction, death’s haunting bluntness. And so, behind the often lively, vibrant and restless styles of Modern art there lurks a sense of emptiness, depression and a modern living death. Like the characters in Hemmingway or Conrad there is no triumph over death or life. There is wounding but no resolution.-Ron Price with thanks to Donald Kuspit, “The Only Immortal,” Signs of Psyche in Modern and Post-Modern Art, Cambridge UP, NY, 1993, pp.163-166.

Traditional painting, sculpture and poetry were reinforced by a belief in immortality. And so is this poetry. I have replaced an old centre of faith with a new one. An ideal of transendence, of the sacred, of the numinous, of the idea that life is more than the sum of its material moments is behind all my poetry. Although I could go on writing poetry ad infinitum and although there is a surface appearance of fragmentation in the immense diversity of material I write about, and as readers will come across as they go from poem to poem, I feel a sense of wholeness, of completeness, of a fully realized mental construct in what I have created. I have a sense of the timeless, the true, the authentic lasting, enduring beyond the contingent and incompleteness of human life, a sense of a destination to be reached, a project which will be completed only with my own death or an incapacitating illness.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999.

Death lurks here, too, in my work,
but for different reasons,
not the sense of incompleteness
and dissatisaction,
not wanting to return to my origins,
not a part of its intense and
pervasive presence in our world,
not as part of a living death.

But, rather, part of that
touchstone, that measure:
wish for death, if ye are men of truth.1
For I am scattered across two continents,
in several hospitals
where they electrified my brain,
with little pretension to purity left,

1 Qur’an 2:94.

Ron Price
2 December 1999


There is something about moving in one’s mid-fifties which disconnects one from the familiar; perhaps it is this which led to my writing this poem and a number of others on this trip connected with the afterlife.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999.

What did They do since I saw Them?
Were They industrious?
So many questions to put Them….
-Emily Dickinson, Number 900.

How will I meet Them when I go?
Will They be seated on a low divan?
Will They use the words “no” and “woe”?
Will I recognize Them by Their beards
and the tenanted space?
Will They be in some unearthly Persia?
In Hamadan or some ethereal location?
Will we have a cup of tea?
Will I be down on bended knee?

Ron Price
10 August 1999


Driving from Lulworth to George Town in the late afternoon after looking at houses to buy since mid-morning, we were both tired. Suddenly a tree flashed before me, a tree completely denuded of life.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999.

Oh white tree out in the field
with all your green gone,
smooth and shorn of all your life.

Oh white tree
with a beauty all your own,
hard and smooth and bright.

When I, too, become white
with all my green gone
will I be smooth and bright?
Will I be ready for His light?

Ron Price
10 August 1999


Thomas Hardy was very interested in the concept of ataraxia or imperturbability. He thought the closest he could come to it was in a state of melancholy satisfaction which could best be acquired not by dying, but dying before he was out of the flesh and acting as if he was but a sceptre, a ghost, living in an Overworld, distancing himself from the world. In some ways this attitude was but a manifestation of Hardy’s skepticism and was directed against dogmatism. This philosophy underpinned his poetry as did the conviction that “great poetry is equated with great character.”-Ron Price with thanks to Hardy, Martin Seymour-Smith, Bloomsbury, 1994, pp. 656-659.

Price, too, was equally interested in inner tranquillity and imperturbability, but he did not associate it with death except in the sense of dieing to the world and all that is therein or, as Muhammed is supposed to have said, dieing before one meets death. This view is not so much an attitude of skepticism as it is of detachment and an interest in the afterlife and all that it implies. But this interest must take place in the context of tending to the day-to-day affairs as best as possible. Certainly this desire, this attitude, this interest, underlies Price’s poetry. As far as “great character” is concerned, it is not something one could ever admit to possessing, nor is “great poetry”. But it is certainly something one aspires toward, again within the context of an honest recognition of one’s weaknesses and failings.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999.

Imperturbability is easy
sitting on a chair with a
book in one hand and a
cold drink in the other.
But it’s a different story:
when criticisms are coming
your way from a group of
frustrated and angry people
who see you as the cause of
their problems; or when you
are chairing an LSA meeting
and a discussion of complex
problems with opposite views
on the table and personalities
locked in opposition. You get
a quick, sharp, measure of your
detachment and your incapacity.

Ron Price
22 May 1999


As writers we have the duty and, hopefully, the capacity to provide an experience of the imagination that will have the same effect of immediate illumination and understanding in the blood and bones of readers.
-David Malouf, Johnno, Short Stories, Poems, Essays and an Interview, Queensland UP, 1998, p.284.

My aim in the next few months,
and perhaps years,
is to provide
illumination and understanding
of the afterlife,
as if the very
blood and bones of readers
were transported into eternity
that they might savour
the unsavourable
and smell
as if
from a thousand leagues,
taste a sweetness
that will live forever
in their hearts.

Ron Price
1 October 1999


Donald Kuspit states that there is in many of the objects and figures of Modern art the expression of a death wish—all the stronger because of the loss of belief in immortality which is an expression of the life force. There is in Modern art, he goes on, a disintegrated, unstructured, disorganized, messy, almost chaotic look. There is a great effort to inhibit awareness of, to constrain, death in Modern art. Death usually comes in indirectly in the style of art; for to many artists death is unbearable, repressed, the concept of an afterlife a fantasy, an absurdity, a nothingness. They believe we are faced with annihilation, a merciless end-game, non-redemptiveness, no protective emotional security, imminent self-destruction, death’s haunting bluntness. And so, behind the often lively, vibrant and restless styles of Modern art there lurks a sense of emptiness, depression and a modern living death. Like the characters in Hemmingway or Conrad there is no triumph over death or life. There is wounding but no resolution.
-Ron Price with thanks to Donald Kuspit, “The Only Immortal,” Signs of Psyche in Modern and Post-Modern Art, Cambridge UP, NY, 1993, pp.163-166.

Traditional painting, sculpture and poetry were reinforced by a belief in immortality. And so is this poetry. I have replaced an old centre of faith with a new one. An ideal of transendence, of the sacred, of the numinous, of the idea that life is more than the sum of its material moments is behind all my poetry. Although I could go on writing poetry ad infinitum and although there is a surface appearance of fragmentation in the immense diversity of material I write about, as readers will come across as they go from poem to poem, I feel a sense of wholeness, of completeness, of a fully realized mental construct in what I have created. I have a sense of the timeless, the true, the authentic lasting, enduring beyond the contingent and incompleteness of human life, a sense of a destination to be reached, a project which will be completed only with my own death or an incapacitating illness.
-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999.

Death lurks here, too, in my work,
but for different reasons than with
so many of the Moderns:
their sense of incompleteness,
dissatisfaction and absurdity,
not wanting to return to my origins,
some sperm and egg-game,
not as part of its intense and
pervasive presence in my world,
not as part of the massive living
death of so much of modernity.

But, rather, part of that
touchstone, that measure:
wish for death, if ye are men of truth.1
For I am scattered across two continents,
in several hospitals now,
where they electrified my brain,
in several schools
where they sucked out its juices.
And, now, with few pretensions
to purity left and content
with what has come my way,
I would be happy to leave it all
this afternoon,
in love as I am with easeful death;
but happy, too, to carry on
in this repose.
For I have already died and
tasted death’s sweetness.
At some future, preordained time
I will repose in deeper waters
beaneath a canopy of majesty
and move unobtrusively from
one ocean to the next,
as silently as not breathing.

1 Qur’an 2:94.

Ron Price
2 December 1999


Shakespeare in his one hundred and fifty sonnets to his beloved friend offers no more ultimate promise that living through one’s children. This is his version to eternity. He writes wondrous lines to his friend emphasizing the virtues of marriage and children and how they bring eternal life. My poems written in a similar vein praise the virtues of a rich and bountiful afterlife, one that does not depend on one’s children for its realization.
-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 2000.

Dear son, you will not remain as you are;
you will change beyond recognition
in both this life and the life to come.
So, the best one can do is prepare
for this end, this transformation.
Some of my sweetness I have
passed on to you and in this way
I will be eternal, but more eternal be
than any house in this world that I see,
than any house set by marriage’s key,
beyond those stormy gusts of winter
and that barren rage of cold death
will be those bestowals and gentle gales,
that goodly home in a celestial company.1

1 Ron Price, “Memorials of the Faithful”, Australian Baha’i Studies, Vol.1 No.2, 1999, p. 102.

Ron Price
25 March 2000


One could argue, as Paula Bennett does in her analysis of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, that God in western civilization was dead at least as early as the 1880s and 1890s. The combined forces of Darwinism, higher biblical criticism and social revolution had undermined the foundations of religious faith. Dickinson, she argues, could not let Him die. The following poem is inspired by Dickinson’s poem “I heard a Fly buzz.” Dickinson says in her poem that we can hope for an afterlife but can’t prove it exists. The revelation of Baha’u’llah while not “proving” the existence of the afterlife, certainly increases the basis, the prospects, the foundation, of hope. This hope, this belief, is reflected in my words, especially toward the end of the poem which follows.
-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 2000.

I heard a fly buzz when I died.
There was quiet in the room.
It seemed so fitting, such a sound,
the last from a now useless loom.

I did detect a final tear
from eyes that I did love;
breaths were clearly gathering
firm, I noticed from above.

I had willed my keepsakes,
signed away my things,
and that fly kept buzzing,
interposing earth and heaven
in its tiny wings.

Gradually, the buzz occluded
and I went into the light,
far beyond the windows,
far beyond the night,
far beyond the fitful fever,
that stranger in my home.

There, somewhere near
sweet-scented streams,
I forded all alone.
And far out in eternity
I rendezvoused with Him,
while some fragrant beauty,
a soft, clear hymn did play;
and an invisible spirit
summoned me to stay.

Ron Price
13 February 2000


The poet who comes closest to providing a vocabulary, a vision, a taste, of the afterlife in terms that are, for the most part, consistent with the Baha’i teachings, is Emily Dickinson. After about 1980 I took a distinct interest in the afterlife, more distinct and more intense than that interest had been in the previous two decades of my Baha’i experience. I have now been praying for the assistance of those who have departed, names I now have on three lists, some one hundred and twenty men and women. In recent years, perhaps six or seven, I have prayed for their help everyday, mentioning their names one by one. So it is that my interest in the afterlife has intensified and any poet who can bring that life closer and more alive, I have studied more deeply.
-Ron Price with thanks to Emily Dickinson, Complete Poems, Number 24.

There is a place I’ve never seen,
more green than green
and quite beyond where’er I’ve been;
much more joy than what’s tasted here
and quite removed from sorrow and fear.

It is a place to dance and sing
and gambol about with a childlike wing;
where the feet move with a light spring
and there’s no more walking this earthly ring.

Such a wondrous, delightful, scene!
It fills the eye with the deepest green
and the sweetest, dearest, golden mean.
Memories, too, fill the heart
peopling this mystic green, in part
with those who have many things unsaid,
but finally, now, our minds are wed.

Ron Price
18 July 2000


After watching the sun set over the mountains, the Asbestos Range, here at the end of the Tamar estuary near the Bass Strait in Tasmania, for several months now; after watching the bright-blinding gold colour of the sun disappear behind the mountain top leaving a sapphire sky coated with several shades of red at the mountain’s edge, I could not help but reflect on what in the Baha’i scheme of daily time is the beginning of the day: sunset. This poem is a meditation on the beginning of day.
-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 2000.

The mountain gets a gold tip
this time of night,
a sliding molten bar
shines through
the mountain blackness.1

I’ve always thought
this was the best time
for a day to begin,
when the sun touches
the evening with sapphire
and gold before night
begins its long watch
in silence. With the
simple act of worshipful
meditation2 complete
we may now soar in heaven3
and begin our day.

1 all my life I have had monochromatic colour-blindness. So, ‘blackness’ here is perhaps more accurately called dark brown and ‘shades of red’ are perhaps more accuurately referred to as pinks and other hues.
2 The Universal House of Justice, Letter, 28 December 1999: ‘carrying out all the divinely revealed aspects of their observance.’ (i.e. obligatory prayer)
3 there are elements of the evening and night experience which come close to the afterlife, particularly the dream, the time when we are asleep, a period of often “vivid perception” by the soul, when “the spirit functions actively.” One of the many arguements used for establishing the immortality of the spirit is the dreams state in our sleep.

Ron Price
8 February 2000


Emily Dickinson “studied the soul because she loved it; she wondered at its power to endure.”1 Hers was “an arduous and lifelong pursuit of a speech fitting to God and divine Unnameability.”2 I find Dickinson comes closest to an expression in writing that deals with soul, spirit, afterlife and God that any other poet I have found to date.
-Ron Price with thanks to 1 Paula Bennett, Emily Dickinson: Woman Poet, University of Iowa Press, 1990, p.122; and 2 Elisa New, The Regenerate Lyric, Cambridge UP, 1993, p.153.

Taken from us so often,1
carried so far away,
transferred to mystic mansions,
gone from here, to there, to stay.

Gone from this world of water;
gone from this world of wind.
The name in the paper’s coming.
Gone to the world of departed men.

Gone to musk-scented gardens.
Gone to scented-camphor and trees.
Gone from this shade and darkness
Gone from this place of doors and keys.

The galaxies and clusters,
as mysterious as they were here,
blinding to the eye they’d be
but in this placeless home,
this undiscovered country,
so natural for that eye to see.

1 The departed.

Ron Price
19 July 2000


The French writer, Victor Hugo, in his final days, was "in complete harmony with himself."1 When his wife, Juliette, died though, he began to wish for his own death. Still, Beauvoir continues, he lived with an easy mind. He spoke of death with untroubled serenity. He looked forward to the afterlife with a delighted curiosity. His hearing, his strength and his fitness all declined in his last days. He grew taciturn and had a frightened look in his eye. His life became boring, monotonous. He died at age eighty-three.

Simon de Beauvoir writes of the importance of valuing one's activities in old age so as to derive continuing pleasure and to maintain necessary interest and delight. I work with my head and my heart on my poetry in these years immediately preceding the onset of late adulthood(60-80). I trust that grief, ill-health or the loss of loved-ones will not become obstructions preventing me from continuing my work as these tragedies have killed the vitality of so many in the history of the arts. If I must suffer torment of some kind, I trust I will be able to break away from it with haste and hurry on to the land of lights, the Realm of God. I trust, too, that my attitude to poetry will not vary, that I will not become disillusioned, as Michelangelo did in the end. He came to see his art as frivolous and something that took him away from God.
-Ron Price with thanks to Simon De Beauvoir, Old Age, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1972(1970), p.510.

He saw his spiritual errors
as the price he had to pay
for his creations.1
I see omissions and commissions
as part of the inevitable failings, sins,
limitations and evil doings
which are part of my lot here on earth,
perfection being the elusive thing
that it has always been to humankind.

In spite of their success and popularity,
many artists feel disillusioned, sullen
and tired in their old age. Some,
like Lou Andreas-Salome,2
write their autobiography
because of the comforting, strengthening,
useful quality it had for others.
She died six weeks after the start
of the teaching Plans in 1937
wondering at the value of all her life's work.
No man knows, it would seem, his own end.

This poem was a meditation on that theme.

1Michelangelo in ibid.,p.515.
2 beloved of Nietzsche & Rilke
.....Ron Price 14 May 2001


Poetry draws on a range of resources from society, from the past and the future, from my religion and my life. The range is immense-virtually infinite-and poetry's function is to help me focus on selected aspects of this infinite range. The ability to perceive, to focus selectively, is the most cherished aspect of my identity.1 These poems, in what is now an extensive opus, are based on selected moments of enhanced perception and they reflect my identity as precisely as anything in my life. This poem draws on Roger White, Emily Dickinson, my belief in an afterlife, the psychological concept of identity and the capacity of the dead to judge us. -Ron Price with thanks to 1Greg Johnson, Emily Dickinson: Perception and the Poet's Quest, University of Alabama Press, 1985, p.156.

We miss him1 not because we feel,
because our heart is sad.
Now that he's gone
just a slight abridgement's had.

He was quite a little man.
There's not that much to miss.
Now that he's taken
the route of stars,
we who sleep can't kiss.

We can not kiss or thank him;
he won't enrich our days.
His superior eyes will now include us
as he goes about his ways.

What will he think of this or that?
What will he think of me?
Now that he's gone
will he understand these things I do
as he travels through his Land?

Will he judge my passion
when he gazes down?
Now that he's invisible,
rapt forever from my eye,
I find his height in heaven
comforts me, here nigh.

But in his new glimmering town
he skirts a mountain of perhaps.
And in my timid life below
I must confess 'I do not know.'

1Roger White and Emily Dickinson, Poem Number 993 and 696.

Ron Price 19 February 2002


In Australia one spends many weeks and months waiting for rain; this is especially true in the northern half of Australia. Life, too, is, in some ways and for some people, like a long wait for the rains of heaven which come after death. The Bahá'í teachings paint an attractive picture of the afterlife to the devout believer. This poem examines this theme of the long wait for rain, with respect to both this life and the life to come, and draws on some of the imagery that 'Abdu'l-Bahá1 uses in His comments on the afterlife. -Ron Price with thanks to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, Wilmette, 1970.

At last the rains came.
It had been dry so long.
It just about made you dance
as the troubles of life
seemed to all slip away
and you gulped the fresh air
wafting off everything in sight
where the rain was pounding,
pelting down with great force..

At last the rains came.
It had been dry so long.
So many years on the dry land.
The rain was like pure heaven
and then the sun shone
and it was light upon light,
irresistable, gentle gales,
pure and gleaming beyond dust
and I drank from a brimming cup
after that heavy rain running
as it did over all that was on my earth.

Ron Price
3 March 2002


Price’s poetry dealt with the obvious and with the greatest subtleties, both the self within and in the complex world, the complex world of community and the infinite variety of form and substance in the material universe. Price’s poetic was rooted in a ceaseless exchange of self and other, of specifics, of history and the imagination. It was based on the assumption that humankind’s survival demanded revolution and that revolution was a process connected with the emerging world religion he had joined in his youth and with the society he lived in which was undergoing transformation. Tremendous transfusions of imaginative energy were required in his personal struggle to contribute to this transformation and this revolution. He saw this energy as a gift.
-Ron Price with thanks to Linda A. Kinnahan, “Denise Levertov”, Poetics of the Feminine: Authority and Literary Tradition in William Carlos Williams, Mina Loy, Denise Levertov and Kathleen Fraser, Cambridge UP, 1994, pp. 125-182.

How can one describe the process
except as an orgy of acquisitiveness:
a go, go, go, down, down, down,
an exhilaration, even ecstacy, right
over the top; also a neutral aloofness,
zone of disinterestedness, a dwelling
alone, waiting, waiting; and a dry gulch,
fatigue-in-the-gut, weariness unto death.

And always community, even when alone,
for there is always authority in the ways
of feeling and thought; even action is
found in relationship, in moving toward,
away, against, or just the meaning in, man.
And always the maelstrom in which one rides.

Ron Price
6 June 1997


I saw the last of a two part TV series on the Bronte sisters this afternoon.1
The Brontes are, arguably, literature’s most famous sisters, certainly most famous threesome. Their rise to fame in the literary world and the tragedy of their lives in England could be compared to the rise and the tragic years of the Babi Faith in Persia, all in the same 1840s and early 1850s. Both the Bab and the sisters were all born in the last years of the second decade of the nineteenth century, 1816 to 1819. Until 1848 the Movement of the Bab and the writing of the three sisters enjoyed much success. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights were published in 1847. The Cause of the Bab flourished in its early years 1844-1847.

But in 1848 and 1849 two of the Bronte sisters died and their brother. In Persia the great massacres of Babis began to take place: 1848-1852. Charlotte died in 1854 at 38. In October 1848 the Babi uprising at Tabarsi began and an insurrectionary period that was to last for four years and with it the loss of the Bab’s popular mass appeal.2 -Ron Price with thanks to 1ABC TV, “In Search of the Brontes,” 2:00-3:00 p.m. March 13th 2005; and 2Peter Smith, The Babi and Baha’i Religions, George Ronald, 1987, p.53.

The wings of hovered,
consumed the fabric of their lives,
took their existence to its lowest ebb
and to what end one might ask?
They finished their days
in obscure, isolated, windswept
corners of this earthly realm, this
mortal coil, with their talents speeding
to their end. Did their deaths set
the seal of failure on their lives?

Such glorious conceptions, such
heroic deeds and, then, gone!
What an apparent, a colossal disaster!
The flame snuffed out by fate’s finger,
swiftly receding into the shadows
of omnipotence and oblivion,
all hope seemingly vanished.
The tide of artistic beauty gone out
and, with it, the tide of enthusiasm
for a Cause crushed to dust,
its devotees cowed and exhausted.
Perhaps we see here just
a fiery phase of transition
on the path to a high destiny,
to an ascendancy that would find
its inspiration in the desperate,
prolonged disappointments of that hour
when new notes were sounded.
Perhaps the yet unborn,
with a cunning that is so
mysteriously subtle come to live
and have their being implanted
by some dispensations of Providence
in their very souls, unbeknownst.

Ron Price
March 13 2005


In life and in the arts there are old formula which weave their magic again and again in our lives. One such formula had its birth or perhaps its most significant and popular and modern incarnation in 1953. That was a very big year for the Baha’i community—the completion of the mother-temple of the west in Chicago and the beginning of the Kingdom of God on earth. Of course, Ian Fleming, the creator of what has become the world’s most famous secret agent and superhero, James Bond 007, had no idea what that year meant to a global community of some 200,000 Baha’is. It is quite probably that he had never heard of the Baha’i Faith at all back in 1953. But in 1953 his first book Casino Royale appeared and it was followed by 13 more books. In 1962, the first 007 film Dr. No starred Sean Connery. I pioneered for or perhaps in the Canadian Baha’i community that year. I moved to a nearby town in Canada, Dundas, at the far western end of Lake Ontario. My Baha’i life and my pioneering life follow the time trajectory of 007.

James Bond films are an outrageously popular fantasy genre with a secret agent man who is handsome and well-known wherever he goes—and who attracts stunningly beautiful women. Real secret agent men, of course, are just the opposite that is, secret types who try to blend in and don’t do things that attract attention. Fleming’s hero is a globe trotter who goes again and again to exotic locations and slugs it out with the bad guys. These stories are tales of leisure which are adventures, scenes of life and death. They are anything but leisure holidays. They are modern fairy tales with 007 as the knight, the villain as the dragon and lots of beautiful women as the maidens.1-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, May 28th 2005; and 1Christopher Lindner, editor, The James Bond Phenomenon: A Critical Reader, Manchester UP, 2003.

It’s outrageous really to call
007 a spy, a secret agent man.
He’s the antithesis of such
an individual. But, of course,
these books and movies are not
about reality are they, Mr. Jones?
They’re about mass entertainment;
no one is kidding anyone here
about these fantasy productions.

And no one is kidding anyone
when I call myself a secret agent
man too, a spy, who came in
out of Canada’s cold down to Australia.
I was a man who often felt like a spy
Without those pretty girls, but who
represented a political worldview,
a global cosmology, a coming zeitgeist,
the spirit of the age that the world
was about to enter. I was someone
on the outside who had a message
for the inside, for all the powers
of the world did they but know it—
but they didn’t; it was a secret and,
just about always, I was the only one
who knew it, who was at all privy to it—
wherever I went during these epochs.

Ron Price
May 28th 2005
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