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After writing poetry very occasionally for thirty years,1962-1992,I began to write it seriously in that Holy Year, May 1992-May 1993. By the end of 1995 I had written some 2000 prose-poems. The prose-poems in this collection come from the year 1995.
By 1995 I had sent 11 booklets of poetry to the Bahai World Centre Library. In 1995 the fourth phase of my poetry writing began. The first three phases had been entitled: The Tombs Chambers(1980-1987), The Arcade(1987-1992)and The Golden Dome(1992-1995). The phase that opened on June 1st 1995, phase four, I entitled The Terraces(1995-2000).

This was followed by phase five, The Mountain of God(2000 to 2010). All of this poetry I see as one small part of that befitting crescendo to the achievements of a century,part of a vast backdrop to the Arc Project on Mt. Carmel.

Autobiographical Poetry 1995:
Pioneering Over Four Epochs, Section VIII: Booklets 12-17

by Ron Price

published in Pioneering Over Four Epochs: An Autobiographical Study and a Study in Autobiography, Poetry: Section VIII
After 30 years of writing occasional pieces of poetry(1962-1992), I have now written poetry for 20 years much more extensively and intensively(1993-2013). The poetry here comes from just one year. It does not represent all the poetry I wrote that year. I hope, in the months and years ahead, to place all the poetry I wrote each year beginning in that 3rd phase, 1992 to 1995, in the respective location at BARL. As I update this sub-section, the poetry from 1995, in 2013, I now have a literary oeuvre of more than 7000 poems and several millions of words.

                                              SETTING AFLAME THE WORLD

You can do anything in poetry you want to.-Robert Frost in Their Ancient Glittering Eyes: Remembering Poets and More Poets, Donald Hall, Tichnor and Fields, N Y, 1992, p.40.

A writer holds his reader by his temperament.-Ford Maddox Ford in Alan Judd, Ford Maddox Ford, Collins, 1990, p.4.

To unite or not to unite: that is the question.
In this intricately complex world of endless
slings and arrows what will be our source
of order? And when we die will there be a
dream beyond that hole where we speak no
more, beyond this mortal coil? And what of
dreams in these multifarious states? What of visions?
The native hue of will and resolution is fatigued
with pale thought and action's name is sullied
by the poisonous winds of greed. Will our
universe be darkened with the dust of death
forever? Will these desolate lands see
no rain of grace? Will it grow green again?
So few are the champions to kindle these veins
and set aflame the world, but it will be done;
it will be done.

Ron Price
5 October 1995


This poem was written after seeing the story of the arrival of Solzhenitsyn in Moscow on 21 July 1994 after twenty years living in Vermont, after his expulsion from the USSR in 1974.-"The Homecoming: Alexander Solzhenitsyn", BBC, 1995 on ABC Television, 8:30 pm, 5 October 1995.

It's a new ball game now, eh Alexander?
You settle for hope now, the residue of
optimism, enough to keep on going with.
Memory, like the clickety-clack of the
through all those years and here you are
now in Moscow, swept along by the ongoing
gales of destiny and a society in chaos:
maybe it always was in a crazy twentieth
century of Gulags on the way to Light.
I remember your leaving Russia back in 1974
and your annoyance with reporters bent
on a story and bent on democracy run riot
as it seems it will whereever it takes root,
for it is as soulless as communism-as you know.

You arrive in Moscow two days before my
fiftieth birthday to a fan-fare of publicity
much the same as you'd get in New York.
Sorokin always said the two systems were
more like each other than different, and
that was long before you left. You don't
really think that reason and the senses can
pull it off do you? The Greeks never made it.
Nor did the Hebrews and their progeny,
perhaps enough for those old days, then.

But not for now, not for this blazzing new age,
its immensity, its accelerating forces, its
dazzling prospects, its long, slippery and
tortuous road and the treachery worked
in men's hearts. We all must find the context
within which to examine the profound
questions of the hour. We must find the
vehicle for our Age, the correct perspectives,
the structure for freedom, the pattern for
institutional and individual behaviour,
the profound change in the standard of public
discussion, an etiquette of expression;
indeed, there is a silver lining to the
dark picture you see. What is at the core of
this new paradigm of opportunity?
Such a vaccuum out there.

Such a cry of anquish.
Are you too old, Alexander?
Will the face of despair and
its melancholy, the fortunes
of this deranged world keep
you away from the banquet table
of the Lord of Hosts?


For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn’t know I knew. -Robert Frost, In Pursuit of Poetry, McGraw-Hill, NY, 1960, p.217.

Short pants hung right-side-out
and sideways: how can that be
after showing me so many times
to hang them inside out and
from the top?

The things we have to endure
in the world of the quotidian!
Just how does one explain a
thing like this? It defies
explanation and just about

Perhaps if I write it down
and refer to it in a slightly
humorous fashion like this
I will forever hang short
pants the right way--inside-out.
But don’t count on it: this is
a fact that slips away.

                GOLDEN THREADS

The poetic view of life consists in just looking at people and things as themselves...just as being...I suddenly feel the extraordinary value and importance of everybody I meet, and almost everything I see...when the mood is on me. -Rupert Brooke in The World of Poetry: Poets and Critics on the Art and Functions of Poetry, Selector, Clive Sansom, Phoenix House, London, 1959, p.84.
The excellence of every art is its intensity.-John Keats, in idem.

It's a giving myself to it, to her,
to the imagination, to what I see
through my eye and with my mind;
it's a merging my identity, my spirit,
all that I am in 'the other'.
One could call it love and is
done through a conduit,
a strange foreign phrase,
of more value to me than
all the wealth of the world.
The cord of creation slips along
this edge, this rhythm, this melody,
this password Ya'Baha'ul'Abha.

It is there in my solitude, my joy,
my grief, my ostensible vicissitude,
in my world of creative thought
like some vibration of utterance.
I can feel it coming for it is not
always with me, like some miner's lamp
focusing, prism-like, on my world,
setting down my life, my whole,
my animation down the corridors
and caverns as I go about cultivating
my soul and overcoming sadness
and tragedy with slender, golden threads
that run into eternity.

Ron Price
18 September 1995


I wrote the following poem about my marriage. I have been married 30 years after 8 years in a first marriage. Sex has become unimportant to me now and to my wife. But the story is complex and long.. It can't be reduced to a few lines of words.

He hath let loose the two seas that they may meet each other: Between them is a barrier which they overpass not. -’Abdu’l-Baha, Marriage Prayer.

It’s so exciting when I come in: the pleasure
is just about more than I can bear.
One needs practice at this sort of thing:
learning to cope takes time,
like anything else.

Is it a taste of things to come
beyond this world of sense
and sensibility’s enticements?
Are these some of the high notes in a symphony
of a lifetime whose music we learn,
ever so slowly, to make?
What do we forge in passion’s firey embrace?
Not ownership, not more than surging tenderness’s
waves so gentle on the shore and face-to-face.
Our seas have met, a pearl is cast onto the sand;
the beach brings barriers as I try to take your hand.

That tide will come and take the sand away,
and still that barrier seems evermore to stay.

Ron Price
28 June 1995


The unseen heroism of private suffering surpasses that to be found on any visible battlefield...the lonely soul's unnoticed though agonized struggle with itself....the struggle for higher life within the least believer partakes of the same basic ingredients as the most heroic....the ordinary self...must respond to the dull pain at the heart of its present existence.-With thanks to Benjamin Lease and Geoffrey Nash in Emily Dickinson's Readings of Men and Books, MacMillan, London, 1990, p.69 and "The Heroic Soul and the Ordinary Self" Bahá'í Studies, Vol.10, p.28 and 25, respectively.

Success is counted sweetest
when life has given all,
at least in bits and pieces
many years, ever-present call.

A nectar goes right into
the marrow of the bone
as if destroying cancer
in the centre of one's home.

There is an outer victory;
'tis measured every day
and most times defeat is what
faces us even when we pray.

Then there is what's inner;
few can define the charms,
but slowly the distant strains
of triumph burst free of all alarms.

All those many losses
on all those battlefields
procede this plumed procession,
rank on rank my Angel heals.

Ron Price<
29 October 1995


They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

and dances...-William Wordsworth, "I wandered lonely as a cloud".

Walking through these gardens green,

red-pebbled paths and cypress sheen,

I saw those marble columns tall,

a Parthenon reborn; I call

back to the Greeks

whom once upon a time I did seek.

Such a brilliance to the eye,

continuous with the stars who die,

but only after many years

and then their light goes on, my dears.

All of history here I saw,

the future too in one draw

of breath, one cast of eye.

The whole world around it danced so high

I nearly missed the wealth this view had brought

because I had not really thought.

Often when I sit or lie

there comes to my inward eyer

this flash of beauty like a dream

mountain fresh, torrent, stream.

Then my heart fills up at last;

my rivers run, my mind moves fast.

After years of working for a Cause

my eyes taste sweetness, hands applause.

Ron Price

19 June 1995

                   THIS IS NOT AN ARRIVING

Love is...a high inducement to the individual to is an exacting claim on is burden and apprenticeship....(not) light and frivolous play...something new enters us in our sadnesses...the future enters into us this way in order to transform itself in us; therefore, be lonely and attentive when you are sad. In this way, destiny goes forth from within people, not from without into them.-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, W.W. Norton, NY, pp.54-65.

Go into yourself and cleanse.

The list is long and will keep

you busy with its regularity

and it must be done or your

house, your home, will not

enjoy effulgent glories, infinite

and unseen grace, divine

knowledge or immortality.

What is this cleansing? A scouring

of your memory and imagination

of what is idle in the talking department

and what you hear on that internal

telephone receiver. Accept

your aloneness here, your trust

in God and your holding to him

and try to do what you know you

should do--simple, that simple.

Can you hear the tremulous after-ring

of memory clarifying the message

of all that is unclear, undefined,unknown,

pointing toward a fate, a destiny,

like a wide, wonderful web that is finally

threading your life with its tender hand

and binding you with a million infinitely

fine lines, to focus you like some precisioned

instrument, ready now, although often bloody

in the exchange? But you clean it off:

the bright red imaginings, hot with

heart's intensity; washing worldly affections,

clean and smooth with flowing water from

the tap of your mind.

Can you clear your eyes of all those

perceptual confusions, sadnesses,

emotional tendernesses that make

you feel so very useless and inadequate?

All is gestation and bringing forth,

pregnant with pain and soon-to-be-born

hopes for the future; all it waiting with

deep humility and patience for developing

clarity, ripening, waiting for the sap:

no forcing here. It will come. It will come.

This is not an arriving; be unsuspecting

and love the difficult and unsolved

as you grow in and through them.

Use experience, here and now, to

rally toward exalted moments later,

toward the cleansing, the grace,

the quaffing of wisdom, the emptying out.

Life must be seen as difficult, serious

and approached with reverence: not

all this lightness, frivolity, endless

playing. Creative thoughts come from

many thousands of nights and days

of love and striving, endlessly: filling

thoughts with sublimity and exaltation.

The surface is so often bewildering;

go to the depths where meaning unfolds

like the petals of roses and a jacaranda

at last in bloom. Everyday is a new beginning

as we suck the sweetness out of the trivial,

the profound and the funny; while Thy servants

who have gone, work through us as part of our

destiny, as predisposition, as pulsation and

gesture rising out of the depths of time,

helping us hold to what is difficult.

Ron Price

14 October 1995


Sensuous impressions are an immensely important means for poets to make their thoughts and attitudes concrete and comprehensible. One might call the character trait, artistic sensitivity. If intellectual capacity matches this sensitivity, poets do not have to rely mainly on the transitory and mutable sense impressions; an endless sea flows, lit up by the two most luminous lights in either world, intellect and wisdom.*-Ron Price with thanks to W.H. Mellers, "Virginia Woolf" in The Importance of Scrutiny, Eric Bentley, editor, NY University Press, 1964, p.378; and * 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, US, 1975, p.1.

It is in the pursuit of this gazelle of charm

that the pleasure lies, the delight;

in the end some wisdom may appear,

some gleaming colour, some grace,

through demonic channels.

For this is aspiration here,

not occupation,

some organic development,

shaping experience,

for the sake of some principle,

to unify and intensify a life,

a way of thinking

more than a way of writing,

taking a barren patch

and touching it with shade,

accent and inflamed with my soul.

As I ascend into the universal,

I arrive at nothingness

and it is here that

I realize my humanity.

Ron Price

9 December 1995


In 404 BC Athens surrendered and the Athenian sea power, the Athenian empire, was at an end....As time went on dissention and discord increased among all factions.-Ron Price, Ancient History Notes: Greece 478 to 404 BC., Thornlie Tafe, 1992.

As we watch the demise of democracy

we ponder the complexities of Pericles

and wonder if our apparent democracy

is the same as his apparent democracy.

As Athens drowned in a sea of waring

complexities, poor decision making and

a traditional and unreasoning occultism,

so, too, are we drowning. Our short

experiment with this ancient political

form is in its final hour, as we wait

and watch and wonder where we go to now.

We have had our Ionian War, our Rule

of the Thirty, our Antiphons and Theramenes,

our profanation of the mysteries and disasterous

Sicilian expedition, but what will be our surrender?

A recrudescent right-wing authoritarianism,

now known or not known, an anarchous nationalism,

a barbarism of the proletariat, a peaceful, quiet,

democratic theocracy with the future in its bones

and Persians, yet again, at the periphery?

Ron Price

19 December 1995

                      AT LAST

From Sappho to Dickinson, Rossetti, and the nightingales, death has been an imaginative obsession for many women poets-an obsession resumed in the twentieth century by poets like Millay, Mina Loy and Laura Riding...Smith and Plath.1 This pleased me because, since 1980 death has both haunted and attracted me. Somehow it did not seem right and yet, in another sense, it seemed the most natural of obsessions.-Ron Price with thanks to 1Jahan Ramazani,Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1994, p.291.

These words, these prayers, so many deeds,

so many years have helped dissolve those walls

which thankfully separate us from them:

you wouldn't want to go around hallucinating,

would you? Enmeshed as we are in each other's

lives and will be, through these words, this unpopular art

which can't be hung for all to see or done

like that stone statue over there,

or turned into fine sound over time,

but will remain on paper

after the dilapidation of dilapidations,

after the night wind wimpers,

the leaves are all gone

and we come forth and on

with fragrances just beyond

and we slowly emerge,

exposed to our essential life, world,

at last.

Having grappled so long, so long,

with bits of paper

and what they all were saying,

a clearness fell over the river,

so smooth with a thousand diamonds

sun-studding: you could see them

as you drove along the river,

even in the night, a thousand eyes

but one mind, at last, at last,

even if the heart aches

for one has been there

so many times before.

Somewhere in the stale familiarity,

half-dead, weary-sings

something tastes of home,

just around the corner,

beyond that cloud

where the sun is breaking,

strong and clear:

at last.

Ron Price

2 July 1995


Since the underlying reason for writing is to bridge the gulf between one person and another, as the sense of loneliness increases, more and more books are written by more and more people with little or no talent.-W.H. Auden in: An Outline for Boys and Girls and Their Parents, ed. Naomi Mitchison, 1932.

Well, there's some truth there Mr A,

but there is much vanity in this calling

so intercede for me as others did for you,

to help us deal with the trahison des clercs*,

the sadnesses and bitternesses that cloud

our lives so easily, so insinuatingly, so subtlely,

making what is written in a better state

than those who write.

In some ways, Mr A, as you say

we never are alone and writing

is not so much a bridge as a dictionary

of definitions of who we are,

what's going on in front of us,

behind us, over us, below us

as we try to make our way,

in our enchanted and not-so-enchanted

habitats, with and without integrity:

that stirling coin that cannot always

be freshly minted to meet the occasion.

Ron Price

2 July 1995

* A betrayal of a cause, or of standards by intellectuals


....the generation born in the mid-forties...were the most indulged, cared for and 'liberated' children in history...the narcissistic trend began in the 1920s...These between-wars folk were the parents of the post-World-War-II generation....who formed the 'hippie generation'... still relentlessly ego-absorbed generation. These two generations have been the main pioneers of the second, third and fourth epochs.-With appreciation to Ronald Conway, The Rage for Utopia, Allen and Unwin, 1992, pp. 146-148.

There's nothing like a parting

to make you feel a piece.

Nothing like a starting

to make you ill-at-ease.

Partings are a sorrow;

I think I'll keep them few,

as I head down the home stretch

to the newest of the new.

'Cause one day we'll part forever

on this terrestrial coil;

we'll make this the last one

on this our earthly soil.

I may not talk with you so deeply

that you feel connected with,

but I'll learn that one some day,

as we become both kin and kith.

< I think Conway has touched the core

of a certain ego-absorption

at the heart of all these plans

that make difficult their adoption.

It also makes it difficult, dear,

to grow close as you would like to.

It may just be this narcissism

which I must overcome too.

Ron Price

10 July 1995


How exquisitely the individual Mind the external World

Is fitted.

      -William Wordsworth, "The Recluse", William Wordsworth: Selected Poems, Walford Davies, editor, Dent, 1975, p.132.

Here I behold a mind that

feeds upon infinity, a mind

sustained by direct transcendent

power and holds converse with

a spiritual world of past, present

and to come: epoch to epoch,

past recorded time.

Here I see days gone by

returning from those first

glimmerings at the dawn of this Age,

enshrined now: the spirit of the Past

for our future's restoration.

The characters are, now, fresh and visible

in this spot of time with its distinct pre-eminence

and its renovating virtue whereby

our minds are nourished and

invisibly repaired.

Here are those efficacious spirits

who have profoundest knowledge

of leavening of being and

of the workings of One Mind,

the character of this Great Apocalypse

and the types and symbols of eternity,

gathered, as they are, among solitudes sublime.

Here we find our better selves,

from whom we have been long departed,

and assume a character of quiet

more profound than so many of

the pathless wastes where we have

long walked, too long, its roads.

Here, too, I hear at last my song which

with its star-like virtue shines to

shed benignant influence,

make a better time,

more wise desires and

simpler and humbler manners.

Perhaps some trace of purity may

come with me and guide and cheer me

with Thy unfailing love

which I forget.

Ron Price

19 June 1995


Who goes to dine must take his Feast

Or find the Banquet mean-

The Table is not laid without

Till it is laid within.

-Emily Dickinson, Number 1223.

The solid earth it hugs me close,

some call it gravity.

It keeps my feet right on the ground

as I gaze to infinity.

I grow accustomed to the dark

when light is put away,

fit my vision and embark

on a casual stroll my way.

'Tis some evenings of the brain

that are as black as ink,

the mind's sweet mansions rain

and the emotions sink.

The unknown is our largest need,

contains the worst we fear,

the tenement of wonder

and all we hold so dear.

I built my world of props and spice,

pasts of planks and nails,

futures made of men and mice,

and animals with tails.

I found out quickly this was thin;

life needs a stronger plank.

bridges like this do totter so;

one needs a Solider Bank.

Ron Price

24 June 1995

                                                                  THE BARRIER

He hath let loose the two seas that they may meet each other: Between them is a barrier which they overpass not.-'Abdu'l-Bahá, Marriage Prayer.

It's so exciting when I come in: the pleasure

is just about more than I can bear.

One needs practice at this sort of thing:

learning to cope takes time,

like anything else.

Is it a taste of things to come

beyond this world of sense

and sensibility's enticements?

Are these some of the high notes in a symphony

of a lifetime whose music we learn,

ever so slowly, to make?

What do we forge in passion's firey embrace?

Not ownership, not more than surging tenderness's

waves so gentle on the shore and face-to-face.

Our seas have met, a pearl is cast onto the sand;

the beach brings barriers as I try to take your hand.

That tide will come and take the sand away.

and still that barrier seems evermore to stay.

Ron Price

28 June 1995

                  BLACK HOLES

One hundred years ago today the first lights flickered in the first movie house. Cinema had begun.-ABC Radio, 8:15 am, 28 December 1995.

Film has basically snuck up on religion and kind of taken mythology. It's the main area where we play out mythology now, in the cinema. I think that's what its secret function is. -George Miller, film-maker, talking about his film Babe, 28 October 1995 in The West Magazine, 23 December 1995, p.13.

It has been suggested that if we could go inside a black hole, it might be possible to emerge either into a different universe or into a different part of our own universe.-Patrick Moore, The Unfolding Universe, Book Club Associates, London, 1982, p.184.

I've watched you come out of those dark holes

splendidly magnificent, like new worlds,

taking us away, billions of us now,

to scintillating lights and crackling sound,

so perfect, full and unimaginably glorious.

You are so much more than a poem;

you seem to cancel speculation,

your fragrance private, for a public place.

For a time you are supreme like some

Egyptian pyramid we only look at once,

or more times if hooked on your not so subtle

magnificence. You multiply my astonishment,

so succulent; you embrace me, absorb me in

your seemingly incandescent beauty, but only fleetingly.

I disappear, and thankfully; while

the predictable wonder of my ordinary life,

unscripted, flawed and plausible,

also disappears. I never emerge

in celluloid safety with my life

nicely edited so as to possess

only that toothpaste smile.

I am eagerly gullible

to your technicolour manipulation,

your convoluted intrigue,

the syncpated chase and the final fall,

like dandruff, of the villans or, now, the hero.

Like my poems you can last forever:

commentary on the time and humankind.

A thousand mythologies cross your path.

I leave your black hole and enter another.

Ron Price

28 December 1995

                  UNINTERRUPTED POETRY

The writer, unable to chose his language, can no more choose his style, this necessity of his mood, this rage within him, this tumult or this tension, slowness or speed, which comes to him from a deep intimacy with himself, about which he knows almost nothing, and which give his language as distinctive an accent as his own recognizable demeanour gives his face....a language inseparable from our secret depths, that which, therefore, should be closest to us, is also what is least accessible to encounter and then to silence the empty depths of ceaseless speech...of uninterrupted poetry.

-Maurice Blanchot, The Blanchot Reader, editor: Michael Holland, Blackwell, Oxford, 1995, pp.146-149.

The revolution has come:

It twists and turns

in metaphorical equivalents

at special times, at any time

it seems appropriate;

for the whole history here,

what shall we call it,

mythological significance?

This is the new myth!

The end of history has arrived!

Yes, this is the eternal Return

and world shaking, world reverberating

institutions have come, born, growing

in a majestic process launched in 1953

within a rhythmic life pattern

of fundamental happiness

which itself contains anxiety and grief

and a time for healing in those secret depths

of ceaseless speech and what seems to be

uninterrupted poetry.

Ron Price

7 December 1995


I'm for the irrepressible many

who pick up their dead and get on with it.

      -Bruce Dawe, "The Little Blokes", Sometimes Gladness, 3rd edition, Longmans, 1988, p.217.

I'm for the little blokes,

the warp and weft,

the endless links in the chain,

desperately needing a shot-in-the-arm

to feel better somewhere, somehow;

who get it quietly from their little Book,

some sacred mystery they hardly understand,

but understand more because there is more

this time, a real-solid God-man Who came

this way a while back, a little while, one-

hundred and fifty years; left these pearls

for the irrepressible many who pick up

their dead and get on with it, who die

sometimes daily and live on in the hope

of a better day.

Faith in stuff that's real is what history is

made of and tons of garbage too, but you

learn not to play leap-frog with unicorns,

and to accept that you will find things

in the last place you look, even on good days,

and you come to accept this happily with a wry

smile, perhaps the smile of reason.

Some edify this attitude with the term

radiant acquiescence. I suppose there is

a certain radiance in the quiet smile of reason.

Besides, Rome wasn't built in a day;

philosophies and theologies, like institutions,

take time to evolve and they are, slowly,

gradually, right before our weary and blinking eyes.

Ron Price

19 December 1995


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 Bahá'í 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 Bahá'í 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 anyway. If only a few appreciated him, fewer would appreciate me I thought to myself. Publishing one's own material was still too costly. Perhaps I'd put it on Internet.

And so I took a fundamentally different tack to Roger and to other Bahá'í 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 Bahá'í community. After nearly two years of sending copies of my poetry to the Bahá'í 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. 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. 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 Bahá'u'lláh. 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 Bahá'í 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 Bahá'u'lláh 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 Bahá'í 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 Bahá'í 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 Bahá'í 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-Bahá, 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

                      BURN AND HISS

Communion, extinguishedness and annihilation are alternative images of reintegration. They are symbols of a consummation that is ineffable because it is the antithesis of our earthly life. --Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, One Volume Edition, Oxford UP, London, 1972. *

It burns with the faintest hiss,


symbol of a consummation

that is ineffable,

the antithesis of this life.

It burns in my lamp light,


symbol of a reintegration

that no one will see beyond

the gates of the placeless.

Drawn to the flame,


symbol of a communion

with nameless, faceless friends

who died a thousand years ago.

O moth!

You can not achieve the ecstacy

of awareness of a great cloud

of witnesses compassing you about.

You can only burn and hiss.

Ron Price

30 December 1995

Note: I have spent many years, since acquiring Toynbee's ten volume Study of History in 1964, reading this historian. He calls the Bahá'í Faith 'a religion of western civilization' in Volume 7B, p.771. Toynbee was a historian who also saw himself as a poet. (Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol.16(1955), p.421


True modesty admits of no disguise;

Like an unalterable mountain it will rise

Commanding our eye with supreme surprise.

All that the crags give life we but surmise.-Roger White, Posy, The Witness of Pebbles, George Ronald, Oxford, 1981, p.13.

I woke this morning with a dream of my father on my mind. So intense and vivid it was that I wrote this poem.-Ron Price, Rivervale, Western Australia, 8:00 am.

Through the leaves of the trees

in the early morning I touch

thy spirit in some Great Beyond.

Would that the energizing spirit

of your love could reach me

in the battles of the evening of my life

not unlike your own that sapped the

last traces of your joy?

The evidences of life's travail which

clouded your face in your last years,

a face once strong and vigorous as

you walked straight and tall in cities

I shall never know, are replaced now

with fresh breezes in open places

and a purity that brings tears to my eyes

as I fight for my own purity in the

rag and bone shop of my passionate heart.

What did the school of adveristy ultimately

teach you? As you laid your body to rest

at last, what had He taught you, He Who

was the Great Sufferer? Everything you

did, then, in those last days, spoke of

exhaustion and now, now, you are locked

in a privacy exclusive to unknown soldiers.

I could not penetrate your world beyond

some flooding reverence that made me cry

with an emotion that brought the streams

of day and a consoling recollection.

Through the mist of memory, now, I recall

your grey hair and shining head, persistently

bald like your spirit that thinned itself out

as you trudged on from day to day with a

quiet intensity that exploded on occasion.

This was your test, repeated often before

the Great Teacher, before you passed it on

to me. Intercede, O friend I never knew,

for me who will never forget those years,

when you nourished my soul by the energies

of your love. I have reared for thee a shining

mansion which the hand of time can never undermine,

a shrine which shall frame a wornout countenance

that had given all, burning, down life's road, darkly,

losing, always losing before the puzzling story of

history in this black and ruinous age that is witnessing

the birth of a new and universal alter where your fire

can burn forever in some unseen forest glen.

Ron Price

29 October 1995

          A BALANCING

Something which one could call ruminativeness, speculation, a running commentary is going on unnoticed in us always and is the seedbed of creation...It is the lumps and trials that tell us whether we shall be known and whether our fate will be exemplary, like a star.-John Ashbery in John Ashbery: Modern Critical Reviews,, Harold Bloom, editor, Chelsea House Pub., 1985, pp.180-181.

Twenty years ago I passed along these roads:

dried out and free from old entanglements.*

These same fields ran to the horizon on and on,

on and on with the Nine Year Plan just ended

and fences shaping everything in sight

along this road to Gundagai in early spring,

as the sun warmed my cheek

like a piece of bread in a toaster,

with blue sky for a ceiling

under the roof of the universe, silent.

The hum and chatter of the wheels,

music of this sphere, backdrop,

as I gazed at her shiny brown hair and soft hand-

touching my eyes like rain on this dry endless road,

going home past these fields of cows and sheep

which keep doing what nature has trained them to do

and I do what empathy and distance reinforce,

a balancing of unresolved and conflicting elements.

which threaten to tear me apart, but which I know,

from experience, I will resolve sufficiently and

which I will find relief from, from restraint,

in a process known as writing.

Ron Price

10 September 1995

* first marriage had just ended.

                THE CAMPHOR FOUNTAIN

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-Bahá, 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


Walt Whitman's poetry has been an attempt, from first to last, to put a person, a human being...freely, fully and truely on record...the individual of action...seeks to hide his contradictions...distills amazing sense from ordinary committed to a celebration and invocation of the individual embroiled in a private self, full of doubt, fear.....secret and guilt-ridden desires and fantasies threatens to erupt but never does, only the sense of a great emptiness of space, isolation and aloneness....he is God's poet, America's poet.-With appreciation to Graham Clarke, Walt Whitman: The Poem as Private History, Vision Press, London, 1991.pp. 7-173.

No need to go public on my guilts and secrets,

although I've laid a few of them here;

any claims to divinity in poetry, any true

and only doctor, great teller of news,

present and privy to some flight beneath

His wing...some channel of grace from some

great Person still behind the veil of glory*,

some Olympian, a bard of prophecy who

reattaches us to the whole, a liberating God,

perfect, all-embracing, voice of the Spirit,

single circuit of inspired energy, the voice

of an essence, God's poet, the world's,

mouth: electric and quivering, determined,

copious, resistless...that is He and more, far more.

And this is me: nothing, who would claim

utter powerlessness as my goal, should I ever

reach and attain Thy court with no trace in my heart

except the gem-like evidences of Thy most

holy sovereignity.**...And so those ordinary

meanings and this celebration distill a different

amazing sense for this self in this pioneering story,

a celebration rooted in a solemnity that yields to tears,

their common and precious wetness; a sorrow that seem

to be part of the very tissue of life and a joy that pivots,

whirling and turning, around a centre that is

the source of an exquisite celebratory joy.

I would turn everyone's eye, their ear,

their minds, their hearts to this extraordinary

call, those footsteps, a vitalizing fragrance,

a thrilling voice, a trumpet-call, a resistless Faith,

a treasury of mysteries to cheer and delight

the senses and rejoice the innermost human spirit.

Ron Price

20 October 1995

* 'Abdu'l-Bahá, A Traveler's Narrative, p.4.

** Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations(USA, 1938), p.89.


...The phenomenon of recall and of vision heralds a metamorphosis, transmuting the past and the future into the present; it opens a door into the realm of the imagination which takes possession of our lives. Truth palpitates at such rare moments and time is reborn with mysterious flashes of luminosity, timelessness, meaning and intricate complexity. -Ron Price with appreciation for the thoughts of Maurice Blanchot in The Siren's Song and Selected Essays, Harvester Press, Brighton, 1982.

I'm always lifted up

from my lower self

to which I have come

to be only too familiar again.

I gaze at another Persian carpet;

they have followed me for years

like some kind of magic design

and a prayer chanted in Farsi

reminds me of two hundred years

of religious history, of history

going back to revolution, to the

origins of ideology, to the birth

of a Cause in the heart of a Shaykhi,

to all that is called 'modern history'.

I give meaning to all this:

to the noisey children;

to the silent ones I will

never understand; to the pushy

types I've never liked;

to the beautiful young women

who will always be far too much

for my eyes, but I cope with them

best with humour;

to my son's gentle lightness,

his candid humour sparkles and

my wife's competent style.

This is community and hospitality

and the best we've got so far after

one hundred and fifty years on its way

to a spiritual drama unparalleled in

the history of the planet. This vision

informs my meaning as much as the past;

it enrichs the design in the carpet

with a magic, the elective process

with a perspective, the food with

a taste and a texture. This is my world

grasped imaginatively with reality and

in its entirety.

Ron Price

26 September 1995

                      A CATALYST

The woman portrayed below I have never met. She is a composite of several I, of necessity, endured while serving on Local Spiritual Assemblies. It could very well have been a man, although I must confess to never having been burned alive as I was by the several women whose composite picture is portrayed below. Often enthusiastic, often devout believers, they had qualities which brought out the worst in me. Their passionate attachment to the Cause I admired. I thank them for teaching me the limits of my patience and love and taking me off my own pedestal.-Ron Price, 4:25 pm, Saturday, 30 December 1995, Rivervale, Western Australia.

She was one of those people you run into

from time to time, her life all over the place,

up-and-down, topsy-turvy, a character out

of a Fitzgerald novel: her life all anguish,

fuss and a thread of torture down the centre.

At first you thought it was because of

all those kids: someone always in a tantrum;

endless infidelities, enough to mount

her own scandal sheet. Then, you theorized

a too rigid puritanism in conflict with

a permissive society producing

over-heated emotions, always on fire,

boiling away. She was like judge and jury

and the court was always in session.

She gnawed away as if at a bone,

if I stayed around too long, I bled.

I walked away with my brain as addled

as a spagetti dish

with names jumping out of my ears

feeling free at last, free at last,

thank God, I'm free at last.

She was a big girl, as big as her heart

which was always full to overflowing,

a certain buxom beauty which I did

not find unattractive. She could have been

a wonder, if tamed. She would never

discard mortality lightly: a lifetime of

utterance enough to fill several ocean liners.

I watched her in those precariously balanced,

ragged circles, in lounge rooms,

plunge assembled members into a chasm

from which even the delicate calm of the Book

passed from hand to hand could not reweave

the disciplining cord that bound us together.

We would again assault the humbling summit,

past fault and fissure, so painful it was, yet again,

to be in a chasm of such utter confusion. Deeper

and deeper we would descend until someone cracked

on the rock's edge and, in tears or anger, drop their bundle.

A catalyst of terror, she always held her place.

I tell you, this girl is dangerous.

Ron Price

30 December 1995

          THE CENTRE

....some people think there's a bit too much luminosity based on not enough stuff...she possessed as a personal pain that sense of crisis and extremity that has so understandably been a part of modern writing....people feeling the impossibility of reaching the was alone..-Malcohm Bradbury on Virginia Woolf, The Modern World: Ten Great Writers, MacMillan, London, 1990, p. 249.

The centre has not held for

many a long year and few

could reach it. They usually

looked in the wrong place

and now it is perceptibly

emerging after a slow and

unobtrusive rise from, what

shall we say: 1912? You'd

like that Virginia, since you saw

human character changing then.

There's luminosity now and a lot

of stuff to underpin this Centre,

rooted in the soil of history, the word,

a brotherhood of erstwhile strangers

and a vast concourse of radiant servants

slowly establishing His Kingdom.

Ron Price

29 October 1995


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

* Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations, Wilmette, 1969, p.295.


Words tell me where I am.-D. J. Enright in The Lyre and the Pawnshop: Essays on Literature and Survival: 1974-1984, UWA, 1986, p.196.

I have just got my twenty books from two libraries

and put them on my shelf where I can see them

at a glance. I pick one, somewhat at random,

to read in my chair looking out over my garden.

Such enchanting trees and shrubs, they blow

a million leaves with a thousand shapes through

my eyes and the blue sky beckons, always high,

lifting me up but only in my heart.

The dog barks his familiar strain and the

doves walk across the grass looking, as I look,

for the food of life to keep their chunky breasts

chunky and their children fed.

I begin reading as I have now for thirty-three years

in massive quantities, hoping that here, between

the covers, I will find some food for my paper-thin

breast and my dry branches and trees will turn

fresh and green again and become arrayed

with new blossoms and fruits.. For here, I know,

is some dynamic power for the arteries of life;

here is the very soul of the world. Here is a boundless

sea, its limits, its forms and it has been boiling

all these decades scattering pearls of knowledge

on the shore of life.*

Ron Price

17 December 1995

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization, (US, 1975), pp.108-110.

    CICERO(106-43 BC)

A poet must be clinical, dispassionate about life. The poet feels much less strongly about these things than do other finds realized (in Auden's work) a verbal and intellectual pleasure so pure that one feels as if the lowly human faculty of mere enjoyment had been somehow ennobled. -Frederick Buell, W.H. Auden As a Social Poet, Cornell UP, London, 1973, p.41.

Cicero came long ago,

at a critical juncture,

he urged his combative peers

to end their recriminative posture,

political moralist who saw the

value of philosphy in politics,

an idealist in an age of extremes,

complex personality

who saw kindness as a means to

justice, the goal of society.

The main branches of society must

work together, love each other

for this is the foundation of law

which holds society together.

Popular Assemblies, like today,

no longer expressed the will of the people,

no longer aspired to higher culture,

honesty, propriety: for real politics

was a way of life.

Ron Price

10 June 1995

Source S.E. Smethurst, "Politics and Morality in Cicero", The Phoenix, Vol. 10/11, 1955-57, pp.111-121.


The city is the embodiment of nightmare, of terrible visions, of some blank and dead spirit. Dostoevsky describes this urban jungle in a style full of life's immediacy and authenticity, with a sense of the vastness and indeterminacy of human motivation. His writing career began after he gave up his 'dull as potatoes' military career in 1844.-Malcohm Bradbury on 'Dostoevsky', The Modern World: Ten Great Writers, Penguin, Ringwood, Victoria, 1989, pp.27-52.

Attainment unto this City quencheth thirst without water, and kindleth the love of God without fire. -Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, USA, 1952, p.269.

It was a year when careers took epochal shifts:

exploring darkness and light,

old crimes and new punishments,

books, so many new books, that would

change the face of fiction and the world's

spiritual sensibility forever.

Tragic figures, so very tragic, but

ultimately an exploration of the inner man

that the world had never seen:

Worship thou God in such wise that

if thy worship lead thee to the fire,

no alteration in thine adoration would

be produced.*

Different cities found expression under

your pens: heavenly and earthly,

earthly and earthly where, at last,

the Mystic Herald, bearing the joyful

tidings of the Spirit, shine(s) forth from

the City of God,** from Your book, like

some trumpet-blast of knowledge,

resplendent as the morn, awakening

hearts from the slumber of frenetic passivity.

And this city of multiforms is taking shape

up there, over there, like a pregnant mountain

and in a thousand other places, slowly,

gradually, confering new life on seekers

as they penetrate the hidden mysteries

of the soul and inhale the fragrances

of a new morning in some wondrous

utterances in which the channels of

their souls are cleansed by new perfumes.***

Ron Price

27 October 1995

* The Bab in Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p.77.

** Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p.267.

***Dostoevsky wrote many books before he died in 1881.

The Bab and Bahá'u'lláh wrote a massive number of books before Bahá'u'lláh's death in 1892.


...Before the late nineteenth century there was not much affection between couples within marriage.-Edward Shorter, The Making of the Modern Family, Collins, London, 1976.

Bourgeois reserve, then, modesty, reticence, propriety, to say nothing of prudishness and hypocrisy, gave the middle classes time and space for organizing and reorganizing their reponses to a world in flux.-Peter Gay, The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud, Vol.1: Education of the Senses, Oxford UP, NY, 1984, p.458.

I would like to believe that savagery

is being tamed by civilizing Eros,

that sensuous force is being controlled

by spiritual passion,

lust being mastered by love,

after several millennia

of not having rooms of our own.

The age of privacy has begun.

And I do believe, I do believe

we are on our way to a civility

we have never known before.

Ron Price

22 June 1995

          DROP BY DROP

Coleridge tended to identify closely with the self within...He was acutely sensitive to audiences...driven by a pronounced, at times pathological...dependency on others' approval. His fears of offending, his uncertainties over his own motivations, his low self-esteem..-Charles J. Rzepka, The Self as a Mind: Vision and Identity in Wordsworth, Coleridge and Keats, Harvard UP, London, 1986, pp.100-101.

The secret of self-mastery is self-forgetfulness.


Well, they are gone, and here I must remain,

in a prison I entered hardly knowing back then.

Such sweet-scented streams, fruits of luscious

delectation, bringing life to my world until

a final hour with fragrant memories; but

these strangers, so many, a myriad, exist in

another world, far beyond the deep beauty

of this emerald world of eternal wealth,

delighting in some withered bloom, in

some dark green file of long lank weeds

that nod and drip beneath the blue clay-stone.

They are gone and they've been going,

always going from the rose-garden of

this spirit where I planted my flowers

many summers ago. Content with

transient dust, they shall never see

the hyacinths of divine wisdom

springing from their heart: yet

I have the seeds, unplantable, it seems,

They wander on pining and hungering

in their own way, as we all do, with

sad and patient hearts: stoic, sometimes

happy, living in this yellow light with

the blue ocean, often silent, swimming.

Pale, they hang beneath the blaze where

hangs as well a transparent foliage and

where I watch some broad and sunny leaf

dappling beneath the sunshine, or some

deep radiance laying full on the ancient ivy.

And they travel busily to their destinations,

plant their gardens, love their families

as the rain falls upon the earth with the

branches dripping, drop by drop.

Ron Price

1 June 1995


The daimonic is the urge in every human being to affirm itself, assert itself, perpetuate and increase itself....(the reverse side) of the same affirmation is what empowers our creativity.       -Rollo May, Power and Innocence, Sonnybrook Publishers, Dallas, 1986, p.13.

'Tis an awe and wonder just to be alive;

this is a certain power, being's enough to thrive.

Such an intense consciousness with ascetic trends:

love here is meaning, ontological as it mends.

And so we become ourselves with joy as we

throw ourselves in deep with commitment,

dedication where everywhere we meet.

But there's a complexity of situation that

understanding needs to challenge

serpent wisdom and spirituality:

it draws out both the worst and best

can flatten out the heart

leaving one quite ready for the Call beyond to part.

Bitterness and violence are also born in this place,

for it's the matrix of our soul, the story on the face.

Ron Price

4 July 1995


Of the many currents of contemporary modern poetry in Australia I have selected Bruce Dawe's poetry and particularly his book of poems No Fixed Address, published in 1962, as the starting point. This title is taken from one of his first poems, written back in 1954, by the same title. It is a suitable starting point for 1962 was the year when this pioneering venture got its start. By the time I began writing poetry seriously there were, arguably, 40 to 50 years of a tradition of the colloquial to build on, to help me on my way.-Ron Price from information in A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Australian Poetry, Geoff Page, University of Queensland Press, 1995, p.2.

They started to say it differently,

to use the colloquial, the vernacular,

the everyday stuff as early as 1962,

if not before, when I had started my

pioneer life, quite early.

Had many fixed addresses.

I counted them once:

37 in twenty-five towns.

You had been writing for some time

with that 'No Fixed Address'

the first that I knew about:br>
that one who in solemn state

lies garlanded in gin,

part of a poetic legacy

that takes us back to the beginning

of the Kingdom of God on earth.

The whole world started to change its spots

in that ninth stage of history when, coincidentally,

I entered the field. And now I'm trying to say it

using the new form, wave, style, humour, normality

of the ordinary, unpretentiousness, highest spirituality.

A late starter, building on thirty or forty years

of other writers of contemporary modern.

Ron Price

9 December 1995

                THE CORE

All things are literally, better, lovelier and more beloved for the imperfections which have been divinely appointed, that the law of human life may be Effort, and the law of human judgement, Mercy.-Stephen Gurney, British Poetry in the Nineteenth Century, Twayne Publishers, NY, 1993, p.182.

Yes, it is a law of life

that the lamp of search

must be switched on and

every passionate effort

of the nerves and sinews

then feeds your very soul

with your arteries astir.

Imperfection is a base, a start

to an infinite Mercy, something

we find in people which makes

them who they are-

a divinely ordained weakness

at the core.

Ron Price

8 July 1995


Sensitivity to the response of the immediate audience is a necessary trait of all artists that have something new to say. They say what they have to say...Communicability has nothing to do with man is eloquent save when someone is moved as he listens....Those who are moved feel, as Tolstoi says, that what the work expresses is as if it were something one had oneself been longing to express...the artist works to create an audience to which he does communicate.-John Dewey, Art as Experience, Capricorn Books, NY, 1958(1934), p.105.

Complete and unhindered communication,

in a world of gulfs and walls

that limit our experience of community,

can be found in some works of art.

Was that why I cried in looking

at your paintings on the wall

when normally art galleries

make me sleepy?

Was that why I wrote so many essays

about Roger's poetry,

though noone would publish them?

Is that why I write all this poetry,

to serve the unifying forces of life

breaking out all over this planet?

23 December 1995

                          CRYSTAL COOL WATER

The poet is a hunter consciously and aggressively active in the hunting process of composition. The poetry is what's hunted down and transformed by that process in a wilderness of language...The poet is an intermediary hunting form beyond form, truth beyond theme through woods of words tangled and tremendous....through a forest of mystic meaning.-John Taggart, Songs of Degrees, Essays on Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, University of Alabama Press, London, 1994, p.174.

Myriads of mystic tongues find utterance

in one speech and myriads of hidden mysteries

are revealed in a single melody*

and the poet hunts in forests of mystic meaning,

searching for the tongues of utterance,

pursued by hounds,

clawed by talons,

with pitiless ravens lieing in wait on the mountain side.

And while he hunts other hunters stalk

and assault him in the bright meadows of his search.

His head falls to the earth, even brims with blood,

but Peace comes at last and the dark night of tangled

trees is no more, only the tall independent pines,

so straight and tall and spacious, with the sun

falling though their intersticies on the book

of his own self, dead at last in a summit of glory,

left behind on the earth beside the crystal cool water

that the Cup-Bearer bringeth! In the journey unto

the Crimson Pillar on the snow-white path.

Ron Price

11 October 1995

*Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic, 16.

** Bahá'u'lláh, Seven Valleys, pp.55-59.

                      STILL ONE OF THE DANGEROUS

I tell you she is dangerous!-Roger White, "The Pioneer", Another Song Another Season, George ronald, 1979, p.40.

Happy birthday to Hand of the Cause Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum! In celebration of her 85th birthday.-Ron Price, Rivervale, Western Australia.

You are a symbol, a treasure, entrusted

to our still frail and unworthy hands,

part of that legacy that time will never dim.

We who have been impregnated by

your energizing love can not describe

your life, can not recount a worthy tribute

to all you have done in these still tumultuous

stages of our history where your life is so

inextricably interwoven in the fabric of it all.

Yes, your were his helpmate, his shield,

his tireless collaborator and, yes,

you knew much more than we our loss, then,

and the little that was the little that we knew.

You have shared the story of his victories

as your vital, slender hands touched his tragedy

and sorrow like torn wings, memory's etchings.

And always you keep calling us, for him and Him,

to untried heights: living symbol of the traveller,

continual reminder of movement, incarnation

of the pioneer, of frankness, of the courteous smile.

May we grow close to thee in the innermost recesses

of our hearts, amidst these shining mansions that

the hand of time has given to the world, near these shrines

where you now walk and the very weight of history

rushes to your support as you gather breath.

It seems you are still one of the dangerous.

Ron Price

27 June 1995



The Book of Daniel was composed about the year 165 BC. Chapter VII was one of the earliest visions or dreams of an apocalyptic nature, composed during the Maccabean revolt of the Jews against the Greeks. There are four beasts in the vision, symbolic of four world powers who would rule in Israel until the time of the end: Seleucid-Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Western.-With thanks to Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium, Granada Publishing Co., 1970(1957), London, for a helpful overview of millennarianism over two millennia.

All these biblical verses are so arguable,

aren't they Norman? The four beasts

have been given such different name

as men have sought/thought the millenium,

the time of the end, a golden age,

a messianic kingdom, the last days.

He would come, it said in Daniel,

with the clouds of heaven,

and to the Ancient of Days...

And there was given him

dominion, and glory,

a kingdom, that all peoples,

nations and languages

should serve him.*

This is no phantasy, some obscure

revolutionary eschatology-although

it has been since 165 BC-

this is the New Jerusalem,

the kingdom of the saints,

the beginning of the kingdom,

millennarianism's true home,

after such a tortured road,

most people got lost by the wayside.

Absorbed in some tradition or

heresy, cult, sect, ism or wasm:

egalitarian, communistic,

self-immolating, peasant revolt,

urban insurrection, all elaborating,

interpreting, vulgarizing

the apocalyptic lore to transform

and save history, in cataclysm,

in quasi-religious salvationism,

deviant medieval mysticism,

self-divinization and anarchism

in secular dress: it is not surprising

you missed it since it grew up quietly

in an orgy of violence and complexity

that would test the best as it still is doing.

Ron Price

26 September 1995

*The Bible, Book of Daniel, Chapter VII, verses 2 to 14.

                        TRUTH WILL DAZZLE GRADUALLY

Tell all the Truth, but tell it slant-

Success in Circuit lies-Emily Dickinson, Number 1129.

This truth will dazzle gradually;

I've seen this all these years:

so slow, so slow, so very slow,

success in drops of tears.

We're eased into the lightening blast;

we're eased with bright delights;

we're eased into truth's high surprise

by beauty's superbly subtle sights.

I've been telling truth's tale

since I was young; I've been

telling it so slant that up and down

is now quite side on as seen

in truth's etherial blaze.

You don't think truth is simple stuff-

well from one point of view it is.

But there are a thousand different ways

to define what is a complex biz.

Ron Price

27 November 1995

                           DEAD MEN DOWN MY SPINE

..poetry to be vital does seem to need a periodic acquaintance with the threat of chaos.-Peter Stitt, The World's Hieroglyphic Beauty: five American Poets, Univ. Of Georgia Press, Peter Still, 1985, p.19.

I wonder if my words and lines

were touched by dead men down my spine's

marrow-bone, so close, so near:

why are these men so near, so dear?

They're been dear for many a year,

a nearness forged in pain and fear,

but now this pain and fear is gone,

a quiet peace is left for silent song.

Why so silent I hear you say?

Well, peace was born far up, a yesterday,

so high, far back: it has come through creeks

and inlets flooding in silent

flowing, still, down, down to the sea.

With this peace a new daylight entered

The sun climbed high, the white clouds spun.

The morning dew became sweet to the eye

and life's sadnesses sank down low.

Tired waves yearned to go finally

onto the shore, disappearing as they flowed.

Ron Price

8 July 1995

                              AN UNLAMENTED DEATH

Again and again he must stand back from the press of habit and convention. He must keep on recapturing solitude.-Walter de la Mare, Private View, 1953.

He was not a practical man, not adept at

gardening, painting, cleaning, cooking,

fixing the car, door handles, shopping.

His death could hardly be lamented.

All he seemed to do was write poetry,

I mean just about endlessly. He said

he felt an excess of joy, but did not want

to talk about it. It was too strange. He

was too extreme, impulsive, a victim of

his passions. Some he said were jealous,

but he did not like to pursue that theme.

He was a little too frank to suit some.

He seemed to prefer his own company,br>
a recluse, a hermit, had fallen in love

with flowers and gardens; he'd often

weep at movies and especially when

he saw the Mountain of God on video.

We were ready for his death for he

said he'd died already many times

and looked forward to its face. Was it suicide?

We'll never know and there's no disgrace.

Besides, I wear his face and he was beyondbr>
that kind of place, still in the race.

Ron Price

28 December 1995


The poetic idea unites aspects of existence that ordinarily remain unconnected, and in this lies its value. The secret of genius is perhaps nothing else than this greater availability of all experience coupled with larger stores of experience to draw on.-I.A. Richards, Practical Criticism, 1929.

Experience is never is an intense sensibility, a kind of huge spiderweb, of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.-Henry James, 'The Art of Fiction', Partial Portraits, 1888.

I think of experience as acting, not upon, but in and with the poet-I conceive the poet, not as having, but as being, his experience.-H.W. Garrod, Poetry and the Criticism of Life,1931.

Guessing the unseen from the seen,

tracing the implications of things,

judging wholes from patterns,

feeling the whole and sensing corners,

travelling underground to get at the mountain,

imagination supersaturated, dropping stuff

all over the place: vivid concentrations,

realer than real, intensified in the memory,

truth not yet achieved. Precision instrument

for storing impressions, instant and complete,

trusting imagination and memory and

showing the world reflected in broken glass

to sharpen it for the reader, if he can;

recreating a complex world: simply, deeply.

Ron Price

18 September 1995


I love this process by which each passing day is captured, not only its impressions, but also, at least by suggestion, its intellectual direction and content as well, less for the purpose of rereading and remembering than for taking stock, reviewing, maintaining awareness, achieving perspective. -Thomas Mann in Thomas Mann: Diaries 1918-1939, Andre Deutsche, 1983, London,

Of the sheer bulk of the extant diaries, the indiscriminate agglomeration of everyday details and personal reactions....Mann wrote that these diaries were without literary value. -ibid.,p.vii.

You, who constantly repeated

physical and psychological details

for twenty-five years with unassuming

ordinariness, with unusual self-exposure,

self-revelation, for your time, so rare,

unique, from the smallesrt, most trivial

details of everyday life, was this prayer-like

communion with your diary a protection?

This getting yourself down on paper,

following oneself around, giving us

the whole map in all its grand confusion,

variety and imperfection; this defining

oneself close, near, deep-down-thing,

this rugged, rambling, uncertain road;

this penetrating dark profundities,

intricate internal windings and little

nimble notions to be yourself, too,

both the within and the without.

So complex, so indefinite, vague,

so little of what does duty in that

public domain: so little is the little

that we know of it-the soul-in some

domestic simplicity, an inner chamber,

freed from fame, honour and office,

centred on a controlled freedom

with 'perhaps' a key word in the

lexicon for the habit of tentative

thought and calm conversation

so that we may talk with delight

to all who pass our way and

hear, at least faintly, the very

pulse and rhythm of the soul.

Ron Price

28 September 1995

                        THAT YEAR OF DEMARKATION

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 energy) 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-Bahá, quoted in Ridvan Message 1992.


Dickey wants to change the reader; he wants to use the poem as a medium through which the reader is raised or torn out of himself into a larger, more energized state of being...This is a poetry that forces the reader to know he is in the presence of a kind of truth at which (he) could not have arrived at by himself.-Bruce Weigl and T.R. Hummer,"Introduction", The Imagination as Glory: The Poetry of James Dickey, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1984, p.2.

...a curious tension exists between poetry and belief, idea, principle, or reason. That is, while we hear a good deal about poetry's need to be based upon an explicit view of the meaning of existence, we are often very bored and exasperated by the poetry which testifies to such a view.-Howard Nemerov, William Blake in Poetry and Fiction: Essays, Rutgers UP, New Brunswick, 1963, p.vii.

You want to get the reader in,

move him about emotionally,

intuitively, physically even,

out of complacency, drift, help

them find their real lives, combat

the malaise, do some purging,

undistorting, unblunting: your poem

is something that matters--a two hundred

year old romantic dream--and we've been>

Some transforming, healing,

life-affirming impulse: pretty
ambitious stuff, eh? From

an initial repulsion through

acceptance to a full embrance--

sounds like something I'd like

to pull off, too! Can we call you

a poet of the second and third epochs?

A foundation poet for the Kingdom

of God on earth? I don't know, James,

but I like what you're into, so much of it:

the dramatic confrontation of self and guilt,br>
the presence of such joy as to remove self-pity--

good gear, James, good gear!

The search for the energizing Truth:

now there's a goal worth pursueing.

How are you coming now, James,br>
in your redeeming search of the depths?

That divine intermediary? Is it more than

the poem? More than imagination
Is there something beyond these sacred

and resplenent tokens from the planes

of glory? Is there something beyond

the green garden of these blossoms

in the lands of knowledge, beside

the orient lights of the Essence in the

mirrors of names and attributes?*

2 October 1995

*Bahá'u'lláh, Seven Valleys, pp.3-4.


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, butbr>
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 peopler>
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,br>
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


Since I went pioneering in 1962 there has been what Robert Bly calls "a domestication of poetry". "That's one metaphor" says Bly "to explain the amazing tameness of the sixty to eighty volumes of poetry published each year, compared with the compacted energy" of the poetry that came from the "wild knots of energy" of the poetry going back at least to the 1920s. --Robert Bly, "Knots of Wild Energy: An Interview With Wayne Dodd", American Poetry: Wildness and Domesticity, Harper and Row, NY, 1990, p.300.

We have never before faced what it's like in the culture when hundreds of people want to write poetry and want to be instructed in it...We know how to instruct a hundred engineers, or computer technicians...We don't know how to instruct in the area of poetry.-Robert Bly, ibid., p.318.

Such a burgeoning, multiplicity,

everything happening at once.

But, you know Robert, I've met

a lot of engineers who aren't too

happy with their instruction.

We've got much to work out in this

incredible planetary fertilization,

bifurcated merging, cross-fertilization,

exploding tempest, increased intensity,

desperately troubling times. Wondrous

leaps and thrusts cross-firing: leaving

people bewildered, agonized and helpless.

Those knots of wild energy, we had them too,

as the great Order began to form back then

in the first two epochs of this Formative Age:


Our earliest pioneers had what you might call

a conflagrant holy urgency. I came in on the firey

end of that ninth stage of history and caught the

comet's burning ice and after thirty years I try

to translate it into a poetry of dazzling prospects,

a poetry of two more epochs. Is it wild, Robert?

Is it wild? I was wild; I was. I, too, have been


Ron Price

16 October 1995


The sense of inner security by no means proves that the product will be stable enough to withstand the disturbing or hostile influence of the environment. More than once everything one has built will fall to pieces under the impact of reality. -C.G. Jung, in The Survival Papers: Applied Jungian Psychology, Daryl Sharp, Quantum, London, 1989, p.145.

The heart does not break-aortic-

right through the ventricle.

It slowly hardens here and there

with holes for fatigue and fear.

This magic place gets encrusted

by a thousand lashes, whip keeps

coming down, while singing.

The stone and the heart it slowly dies.

Shame coats the heart in glory.

The universe stands still

to hear the little story

of this heart who's last its golden fill.

But redemption does come slowly.

All things are found in part.

Unity within the heart is joy

and here-down here-we only start.

Ron Price

10 September 1995

                                                                                    THE WORLD WAITS FOR ITS POET

For the experience of each new age requires a new confession and the world seems always waiting for its poet.-Emerson in What Can I Say?, p.119.

There are more of us these days, Ralph Waldo,

more of everything, yes, a new confession

and about time, as you could see over

a hundred years ago.

The world still waits for its Poet,

with a capital 'P', Whose myriad mystic tongues

find utterance in every line and

the world, ripe to overflowing, waits

until the Poet's words, clad with wings, are

carried fast and far irrecoverably into

the hearts of humankind. Perhaps,

the lesser poet, scarce deserving a mention,

should set himself a key so low

that even the most common things should

delight and the fragrance in the air

that some men breath, should

come through rich and perfumed.

Ron Price

10 September 1995


means proves that the product will be stable enough to withstand the disturbing or hostile influence of the environment...More than once everything one has built will fall to pieces under the impact of reality. -C.G. Jung, in The Survival Papers: Applied Jungian Psychology, Daryl Sharp, Quantum, London, 1989, p.145.

The heart does not break-aortic-

right through the ventricle.

It slowly hardens here and there

with holes for fatigue and fear.

This magic place gets encrusted

by a thousand lashes, whip keeps

coming down, while singing.

The stone and the heart it slowly dies.

Shame coats the heart in glory.

The universe stands still

to hear the little story

of this heart who's last its golden fill.

But redemption does come slowly.

All things are found in part.

Unity within the heart is joy

and here-down here-we only start.

Ron Price

10 September 1995


...The full dimensions of his being were not to be found even in private...dreams were too unreliable, too sporadic and uncontrolled.       -Thoreau, Journal, Vol.1 in Dark Thoreau, Richard Bridgman, U. Of Nebraska, Lincohn, 1982, p.3.

I saw him run away so clear,

way off across a field.

Dressed in white; he had a gun.

He did not like what I had said.

He disagreed most violently,

but in a dream, 'twas done.

I wondered long what it had meant,

but could come up with no answer.

So much of life is like this dream,

like some mirage in a desert.

You wish it water fresh and pure

but all it is is vapour.

There is no need to chase it far

across the white snow down there.

No need to worry about that gun;

it has no power to hurt you.

'Tis only a fleeting shadow in your mind,

more like some illusion.

So I put the dream down on the sheet

and wonder if one day it shall tell me

something deep and meaningful:

right now it seems like not.

The memory is there; I won't forget.

Perhaps one day it will reveal

some sweet insight on this desert;

and perhaps it will remain as is

some vaporous illusion.

Ron Price

11 June 1995


I suspect that the greatest poetry is, as a rule...a concise and simple way of saying great things...this does not necessarily mean 'un-complex' or 'easy to understand'. Not everything or everyone is always concise and simple; even the simplest souls have complex moments. -With appreciation to John Livingston Lowes and C.Day Lewis in The World of Poetry, Phoenix House, London, 1959, pp.133-134.

You're not looking for some top-40 tune here,

or a delightful ditty like:

What shall we do with a drunken sailor?

Some easy style, light reading,

a little amusement, to be taken over breakfast

with your morning paper, come on mate!

What do you take me for? I'm not a comedian

with a quick fix, instant laugh, insight guaranteed.

I bring you a certain darkness in which I labour

to enshroud you, certain fluctuations and associations

which I melt down for your purpose and make distant

for you to reach for: buy those spectacles,

for this is no dead vacuum, floundering place, dimness.

You must cultivate your poetic receptivity,

accept unknowingness when it comes, as you would

in those mysterious places, the faces of friends,

those you love and associates you hardly know.

Ron Price

20 September 1995


I had already reached the conclusion that we are in no wise free in the presence of a work of art; that we do not create it as we please but that it preexists in us and we are compelled, as though it were by a law of nature, to discover it because it is at once hidden from us and necessary.-Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Passed, trans. by C.K. Scott Moncrieff.

Several of Roger White's poems I have taken and reworked the themes. I felt a little like Proust. I felt I was somehow finishing off the sculpting process, tidying up the edges, expanding on White's pithy language. I was discovering something else in the form which was hidden and waiting to come out. Here is one that came out.-Ron Price, 9:00 am, 29/12/95, Rivervale, Western Australia. See Roger White, "It is an Easy Thing to Love the Dead", The Witness of Pebbles, p.58.

I have loved the dead for years,

have talked to them in prayer

with occasional answering tears.

It is not difficult to love these souls

who can not wound or tell a lie.

They seem to satisfy some need

as we are told they can perform a deed,

a deed of miraculous force from their

special place right near the Source.

They are like some fruit beyond the seed

which small and dry would never yield-

we thought-such a full and luscious field

of grain to help us here, to help us gain.

Now who would argue with a rose?

Who'd expect a tree to turn up its nose?

Both were grown, so long, so free,br>
with quiet charm for all to see.

Do not tell of pain and dung

of tortured sap and spirit wrung.

Ron Price

29 December 1995


Give me anything which is from God. Desire or anger or communion of saints or even hurt. But nothing any more of the dreariness and the mechanism of man.-D.H. Lawrence, The Collected Letters of D.H. Lawrence, Harry Moore, editor,, 1962, p.950.

It is necessary, even good, to lie down in the rag and bone shop of the heart, where all the ladders start, from kissing to horrid strife.-Paraphrase of Sandra Gilbert, Acts of Attention: The Poems of D.H. Lawrence, Cornell UP, London, 1972, p.221.

Give me fresh rain and an ocean to see,

a waterfalls tumbling gown to the sea

near the dusky dwelling of my solitude

and the sweet-sounding lamentation

of the multi-coloured rag and bone shop

of my heart where surfaces bewilder and

multiplicity and complexity confuse.

I seek a tranquill voice deep down,

to lighten the burden of homelessness and

try to raise the submerged sensations
of an ample past in this state of unutterable

aloneness where that after-ring of memory and

the wide web of an unfolding destiny

guided by an infinitely tender Hand.

Ron Price

10 October 1995


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,br>
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

*Bahá'u'lláh, Seven Valleys, (US, 1952), p.4.


..the desire to be bold which once was a joy gets heavy with caution and duty. --George Plimpton, Writers at Work: Third Series, Penguin, 1967, p.276.

We have to be careful with all these

new troops that we don't impose on

them an endless litany of do's and don'ts;

don't crumple their immediate delivery

of genuine and spontaneous emotion;

don't petrify their wonder with the

stone gaze of religiosity and correctness

which we always get from the good books

and, now, their extensive commentaries;

don't feed them, like Swans by the lakeside

and, in the end, suffocate them with our own

bags of gas and endless supplies of 'shoulds'.

Easy does it, mate; feed these troops gently

with a liberal supply of kindness and understanding.

Ron Price

18 December 1995



The souls that form the great rose of Paradise are seated in banks and tiers of ascending blessedness...they are all perfectly happy; they are all pure...purged of moral taint...Poetry wants to be pure, but poems do not...The poems want to give us poetry which is pure, and the elements of a poem...will work together toward that end, but many of the elements, taken in themselves, may actually seem to contradict that end, or be neutral...They mar themselves with cacophonies, jagged rhythms, ugly words...all things which call us back to the world of prose and imperfection.-Robert Penn Warren in A Robert Penn Warren Reader, Random House, NY, 1987,p.174.

...poetry has for its object an indefinite sense of a definite pleasure...poetry is not supposed to undergo close inspection, only a cursory glance...poetry is a beautiful painting whose tints, to minute inspection, are confusion worse confounded, but start out boldly to the cursory glance of the connoisseur...aspires to music...indefinite sensations...melancholy is the most poetical effect...pure poetry is the purse effort to heighten consciousness.-Robert Penn Warren, ibid., p.185.

Where is no special wisdom here:

perhaps some irony, some dramatic

structure while the saint steps into

the fire, the philosopher writes some

enormous tome, the poet makes

simple affirmations and diversions,

philosophical titbits enter unobtrusively

into the poetry as it enters into the reader

with a net of connections, an echo of

crude experience, an attenuation, a

rehandling of theory and practice.

Perhaps there is knowledge here and love,

like some footless dance, like some

fluent crystal that flies and glitters,

like criers in a multitude of tongues,

often like music I try to put them

where they are, here, where you see them,

in our imagination. I give them many names,

clear on the attendance roll, but they seem elusive.

Ron Price

5 October 1995


Here are the early stages of a civilization that will create and experience beauty, that will rise above the cacophony in which the world now seems to be drowning. As TS Eliot looks back to the Greeks, the Renaissance, the creative peaks of the past, Price looks ahead with a vision implicit in the architectural configurations on Mt Carmel.-In appreciation to Alan Shucard, Fred Moramarco and William Sullivan, Modern American Poetry, G.K. Hall and Co., Boston, 1989, p.101.

Perhaps 'the modern' could go back to

Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase(1912)

the symbol of the international exhibit of art

in New York, the root of the manifestation

of 'the modern' in America(1913)

and 'Abdu'l-Bahá's 239 days in the West.

The big guns had come and changed the world:

Darwin, Marx, Freud, Einstein and

the broidered Robe of Light hearing

the wondrous accent of the Voice

that cometh from the Inaccessible

to our urban, industrial, democratic,

fragmented, scientific jungle of

motion, speed, urbanity, machinery

Here was the nest of the modern in poetry

where intellectual and emotional complexes

were presented in an instant in time:

containers for ideas and feelings,

poetic sensuousness, hard and clear,

a firey intensity, prose poems, awakening,

invigorating, confusing,

some Hellenic turning,

some nature turning,

some turning, twisting, revolving,

evolving trying to describe our world:

bewildered, agonized, helpless, invaded

by some wind into the remotest and fairest

places and wasting as it germinated.

Poetry created aesthetic objects

out of words, reassembling language

detached and leading anywhere, everywhere:

hymns to possibility, not just gibberish,

idiosyncratic flux, slangy informality,

surprising peculiarity of things.

Eliot advised writers to develop an historical sense,

the entire western intellectual tradition,

my relation to the dead and the unborn:

to escape from the subjective into system, order.

And so I did TS, so I did, a system just being born

back then: 1912, 1919, 1922--goodness, you were

right there, then, at the start with J. Alfred Prufrock:

Let us go then, you and I

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherised upon a table;

Let us go..(*).

That meaninglessness was being replaced,

paralysis, confusion, social falsity, anxiety

and we see the mermaids singing each to each.

...I have seen them riding seaward on the waves

Combing the white hair of the waves blown back

When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us and we drown.(*)

And we drown, dreaming figures, as in a dance.

Silently adoring, embalmed in awe

and pentilekon marble, released to marvel

the magic Dust that noone ever sees.

Ron Price

23 June 1995

(*) TS Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", in TS Eliot: Selected Poems, Faber and Faber, London, 1954, pp.11-16.


...All these lovely poems, which after all give the ultimate shape to one's life, all these lovely poems woven deep into a man's consciousness...-D.H. Laurence, The Uses of Poetry, Cambridge Up, 1978, p. 199.

A colour stands across the Mount.

It waits upon the lawns and trees

and on the terraced slope.

I always hear the colour talk,

a language that is green.

A language that is white and red,

even black is sometimes seen.

Just a step up to the horizon

as noon walks in so clean.

Here there is no formula for sound,

no measured loss, unseen.

Here one can explore a continent

an undiscovered mind, one's Queen.

A world of impossibility is here,

like wine, exhilarates. If one could do

half of what one is asked,

it might make the challenge far too near.

There's only faintest chance,

tincture I might win, but

along the way enchantment's taste

and along the spine the dance.

Ron Price

10 September 1995


So nigh is grandeur to our dust, so near is God to man!Emerson

...the believers must eschew affectation and imitation, for every man of understanding will instantly detect their loathsome odour.-Shoghi Effendi in Letter to Persian Believers, 10 February 1980 from the Universal House of Justice.

So many deaths: human beings

whose days were crowded with

work for him and them and it.

Memories, such slight things:

a phantom of an attitude remains,

an echo of a mode of thought,

a book or two, at the heart of victory

in some critical hour, shrunk now

into a mere musical note, some phrase,

suggestive of singularity, clarity,

so clear as to be victorious over

the inevitable diminution, abridgement

of death's rare necrology*,

abstract for new generations

who get to the backs of books

and discover what's indescribably

precious in the spirit of humanity.

And so the soul's note rises strong

and clear above the uproar of our times,

to exert in indefinable and infinitessimal ways

its ennobling influence over the future,

occasionally a written garment, inseparable

from matter's chemical marriage, some style,

some reporting of spiritual seeing

and inborn desire, gift of grace,

which eschews affectation and imitation:

some portion of the soil was its to tend

and when all is done what it is, what it was,

engraved on tablets of light as the moment

is engraved with radiance on this

axis of the universe.

Ron Price

26 September 1995

*necrology: -a list or record of people who have died, an obituary-found in some Bahá'í books with some accompanying statement on the life of the person.

                      NO ENTRY-BY-TROOP

The poetic view of life consists in...the extraordinary value and importance of everybody I meet....when the mood is on me. I....see the essential glory and beauty of all the people I meet....splendid and immortal and desirable. -Rupert Brooke in: A letter to F.H. Keeling, September 1910.

My productiveness proceeds in the final analysis from the most immediate admiration of life, from the daily inexhaustible amazement at it.-R.M. Rilke, Selected Letters.

In one Bahá'í community where we experienced entry-by-troops I had the experience I describe below. The poem is factually based, although an element of poetic license trims the edges. -Ron Price, 5:50 pm., Saturday, 30 December 1995, Rivervale, WA.

She really was a beauty;

one of those women I always

wanted to take to bed with me.

And here I was in her lounge room,

late at night and alone and she

wanting it and telling me so.

It's funny the sort of people

you attract to the Cause in these

early epochs of its global spread.

You think it might be those spiritual

types you read about, saintly women

who have always been waiting for the truth.

This bed-wise woman was

no Mary of Magdala, but she had

her garden of pleasure, her perfume,

her glistening hair, smooth-armed,

gold-bangled, fingers slender, knowing

the words men like to hear.

Marking me tonight, probably

knowing I was beyond her wiles,

part of some new marble dream

I'd brought to town with its words

of soft rain for the dry and stoney hills

somehow she knew it could not be.

Not these words, they could not

penetrate her urgent desire,

her full warm breasts

and her endless curves

with that sweet new life

for which she could live

and some day die

in a greater fullness and joy

than she could imagine.

And so I passed her by;

my days of infidelity had not come yet.

Someone else would teach me the lessons

that could have been mine that night.

Ron Price

30 December 1995


You think it horrible that lust and rage

Should dance attendance upon my old age;

They were not such a plague when I was young:

What else have I to spur me into song? -W.B. Yeats in On Poetry and Poets, T.S. Eliot, Faber and Faber, London, 1947, p.257.

Can it be that I do not envy any more?

No desire to be young or handsome?

No desire to receive some recognition

by being elected or appointed?

Perhaps a wishing that I might have

become something more: purer?

more independent? more courageous?

Horace said those who envy grow thin.

That's why I'm getting chubby.

Found: a sign for the absense of

the least trace of envy--chubby

old men and women. No, that can't be.

I've been envying all my life.

There was always someone better

at something than me. Now, well,

I just don't care. Is this the root

of my spiritual gainer: insouciance?

The contextual nouances for envy

are multitudinous and I must confess

that occasionally, even now, admiration

finds envy's trace element like a cold wind

from the Arctic blowing faintly, so

faintly across my face. I nearly miss

it goes so fast, but it stick's in my liver,

or is it my kidney, unbeknownst.

Envy's microscopic trace, extracted,

purple? black? colourless? only the

psychoanalytic-geologist would know for sure.

There's been a thinning going on

underneath my nose leaving my

wanting faculty highly pruned, sorted.

What, pray, has slaked my envy?

Has that primary envy of my mother's

breast just run out of gas?

This theological problem, abating,

perhaps is taking a new form: pride.

Good God, no! Desire's quiet new receptacle.

Erudition, those who can amuse, who have

money to travel, those who have radiant acquiescence,

courage--the list seems endless, quieter

but endless. Lots of work still to do.

Ron Price

28 November 1995


'Tis a dangerous moment for anyone when the meaning goes out of things and Life stands straight-and...yet no content comes. Yet such moments are. If we survive them they expand us. -Emily Dickinson, Prose Fragment 49.

I clutched at sounds

and groped at shapes

and still my heart did groan

in some endless wilderness

it wailed, lamented bone.

I could not find the golden lines,

silver or hyacinth--only a base metal

from which I made a nail

for my sackcloth shirt and tail.

I felt it in the afternoons

when the light angled low;

it left a scar; it left a hurt

deep down, a feeling, woe.

'Twas a sense of full despair

and it hung like weighted rocks.

When it went I felt expanse,

Immortality, like darkness

leaving from the grass and

all creation in a dance.

Ron Price

25 June 1995

          THE EXPLOSION!

...The dissolution of the tabernacle wherein the soul of the Manifestation of God had chosen temporarily to abide signalizes its release from the restrictions which an earthly life...that soul could henceforth energize the whole world to a degree unapproached at any stage in the course of its existence.-Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p.244.

Such an explosion in the world of art

in those decades when He wrote: 1852-1892!

Impressionism and post-impressionism,

light and colour defining our world,

sensation defining our world,

our world being a moment in time,

intuitive journeys to a new spiritual

reality where we define the meaning

of tradition by the nature of our own

temperament and our world by the

extent of our knowledge of science.

It laid the foundation for an explosion:

the twentieth century and

an Order we have yet to understand.

Ron Price

25 June 1995


For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn't know I knew.-Robert Frost, In Pursuit of Poetry, McGraw-Hill, NY, 1960, p.217.

Short pants hung right-side-out

and sideways: how can that be

after showing me so many time

to hang them inside out and

from the top?

The things we have to endure

in the world of the quotidian!

Just how does one explain a

thing like this? It defies

explanation and just about


Perhaps if I write it down

and refer to it in a slightly

humorous fashion like this

I will forever hang short

pants the right way--inside-out.

But don't count on it: this is

a fact that slips away.


Nothing is more fruitful for man than the knowledge of his own shortcomings.-'Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation, p.244. cannot lay remorse upon the innocent nor lift it from the heart of the guilty. Unbidden shall it call in the night, that men may wake and gaze upon themselves.-Kahlil Gibran, Prophet, p.43.

Unbidden it called this morning, early,

heavy it laid upon my pillow and climbed

around my ears like a sleepy mosquito

who was only into dull roars. It headed

for my eyes and my shutting them had no

effect as it climbed right on into my brain,

slowly eating its way to my heart, stopping

on its way to burn my liver if it could-and it did.

I looked upon myself like some prisoner

whose regret was like some jail-cell barring

me from joy and colouring my morning with

the nethermost fire of remorse. I would be here

again, I thought, for I was so far from the

immortal Wine. And yet, and yet, I would

not be estranged from this Cause and these

vicissitudes of fortune would not draw me away

from my Goal: I hoped! I hoped! I hoped!

For I found meaning here, right here, in

these tribulations. I was not radiant, not happy;

I had not learned this yet, but I had learned

to search for meaning and this would have to do

and I did. The radiance came later, years later.

Weary, I stood at the window at dawn and watched

the rising sun. Slowly my eyes gladdened, invaded

and sustained with the fresh meaning of gold

and the subtle tempter, for the moment, slipped away.

My sense of fitness returned. Perhaps this fire

would be removed; perhaps it would go on for years.

For great forces churned inside me and tore me apart

and had all my days. Tremendous energies were

often released. I trust this will happen again perhaps

through my failures, yet again, yet again.

Ron Price

16 December 1995

                AVOIDING THE FIRE

...The intellect alone can never be enough. Intuitions, suggestions, impressions mean more to the poet than opinions, but they are far less manageable. He needs time and leisure...He needs a period of assimilation in which the pieces of the jigsaw-consciousness can fall into place, before Experience puts out a hand again to jumble them into confusion....the happy withdrawal of an artist into himself takes on the appearance of a siege.-Clive Sansom, The World of Poetry: Poets and Critics on the Art and Functions of Poetry, Phoenix House, London, 1959, p. 124.

One can get only so much of a vista of hours and days

without interruption from inner contemplation.

Fire, endless fires, murderously drive men from

this private world, like animals from their places

of safety, the home of the mind. As far as possible

the artists, the poet, must say no; he must be dragged

beyond the wall of "the big no" by something special

that only he can define and for which there is no

waspish protest, only a willing "big yes."

This poet must keep recapturing solitude, great

inner solitude, intense awareness, like a shadowland,

vacant, silent, free of irrelevancies. Here, here, he

will meet faithful souls of such power that he will

hear his subject gathering words, force, leaven.

Ron Price

19 September 1995


Only genuine poetry wll give the reader who approaches it in the proper manner a response which is as passionate, noble and serene as the experience of the poet, the master of speech, because in the creative moment he is the master of experience itself.-I.A. Richards, Science and Poetry, 1935.

If fame belongs to me,

I will not escape her.

If she is not mine,

all the writing in the world

will not colour my days

with tints of her eternal renoun.

I am a trembling emblem of

His universal laws and feel

an evanescence like that

brilliant, stunning, flame tree*

which takes my breath away or

that purple jacaranda all over town,**

with none of the resonance

of His low voice in the rush

from some celestial Bush Whose

flower I might one day know

after all these trees have

ceased to be for me.

Ron Price

26 December 1995

* Illawarra Flame Tree: from eastern-coastal Australia found occasionally in Western Australia.

**Brazilian Rosewood: from tropical South America found in many parts of Perth Western Australia.


The question of genuine poetry, poetry which is passionate, serene and noble is really quite impossible for the poet to judge. Perhaps the most intensely moving experience I had which led to this poem was seeing the Illawarra flame tree this morning; the jacaranda has now lost its colour for the season. Trying to describe the voice of Baha’u’llah, for what I think is one of the few times in one of my poems, was as spontaneous a part of the poem as seeing the tree on Stirling Highway this morning was a surprise to my eye. The notions of evanescence and resonance are from one of Emily Dickinson’s poems that I got off the Internet last night. Fame is a philosophical issue which has concerned me for years. In a society which is so enthralled by spectacle and personality it is difficult not be have itpass by your mind occasionally.

All of these experiences, issues and ideas were certainly genuine ones; they involved a certain passion, intensity of feeling, occasionally serenity and, perhaps, nobility. Collectively they make a certain smorgasbord of taste, texture and intellectual and emotional impressions for the reader. The actual poem is a succession of images, sounds, thoughts and emotions through which the poet takes the reader. Indeed, the poem depends for its life on the reader.


This world: a monster of energy...a play of forces and waves of forces...a becoming that knows no...weariness: this my Dionysian world....and me a man of monstrous contradictions, a force majeure, a destiny. -Joseph Fichtelberg quoting Neitzsche in The Complex Image: Faith and Method in American Autobiography, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989, p.169.

Even the nooks and crannies of this place,

earth, feel like home. That could be my street

there, my little park; how long could I look over

that grotty lane before my eyes tired of its sameness?

Perhaps tomorrow if His light did not shine;

perhaps forever if I could drink deeply enough

of those vivifying waters that quicken my very skin.

The sense of oneness just about overpowers;

then the mind scoots over to safer bowers

and tears can be kept for other times.

For now the emotions are quiet and you

ease on over to the richness of land and

human enterprise and feel its depth

and solemnity, exalted above any knowledge

of mine or, indeed, anyone else and the praise

of all the world. Oh, to partake of that oneness

in the quietest of ways, deep-down things, low,

so low that you taste the earth in all its humbling

grandeur: enthralled, I gaze at those simple grasses

blowing in the wind, the smallest of tokens of

some glorious handiwork.

Ron Price

18 December 1995


It is vain to write on the seasons unless the seasons are in you. If they are not the words will have a paralysis in their tails. The poet wants to express thoughts and feelings as things physical. The body and the senses must conspire with the mind. Expression is the act of the whole man; it grows out of the person’s whole life, out of his sensuous involvement with and cultivation of life. The poet’s creation is his life; it is what he becomes through his work-not the poem, the artifact. Aim to produce what is as true, inevitable and deep as a hillside. The impetus for writing is not so much the overflowing of life but life’s subsidence.-Victor Carl Friesen,The Spirit of the Huckleberry: Sensuousness in Henry Thoreau, University of Alberta Press, 1984.

The mist is rising

and I am going in. Called in

past an endless wild beauty,

past those mysterious blackboys,

the kangaroo-paws stunning,

the dancing spider orchids,

the banksia, queen of the bush,

the jacaranda, I saw on the road,

on my way to angels, a rank, radiant

as light, joyous confusion, lifting:

was this the point of entry, marked

by richness almost gold, taste-seen

in the whispering of branches up there

so high, an evanescent grace....

hummingbirds and butterflies forever?

It all subsides, quiet, softly at the edges,

astonishment leaves at the door

as I unpack my books and peel the spuds.

Gazing down the black drain hole

nature’s beauty and the intricacies

of existentialism slip on the peelings.

The sense of eternity, the reaching

for immortality dull-thuds, competes

with the ordinarily ordinary and loses,

goes back into the sky, past those grey clouds,

as I make meat, spuds and two veg<

and washing dishes forever.

Ron Price

16 June 1995

                     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

                      FRESH CENTRE OF RICHNESS

I have a faculty...for burying an emotion in my heart or brain for forty years, and exhuming it at the end of that time as fresh as when interred. -Thomas Hardy, Notebooks, in The World of Poetry: Poets and Critics on the Art and Functions of Poetry, Clive Sansom, selector, Phoenix House, London, 1959, p.26.

Some would say that’s not a good idea, Thomas;

confusing burying with repressing is understandable.

For me burying is an unconscious process

associated with memory, so that remembering

is like creating something anew,

not always mind you, experiencing it

for the first time, again and again.

If I have any gift as a poet it is this and it

extends from strong experiences to minute

observations. This is the fresh centre of

richness which feeds imagination, feeds the

present with charged particles, with blood

and bone, with glance and gesture and the poem

rises and goes forth like a phoenix from ashes

where emotion lies burried, exhumed fresh and

tasted as if in some other world by some other me.

Ron Price

17 September 1995


The practice of poetry is therapeutic; through rhythmic cadence and recurrent rhyme the poet is able to subdue hurtful experiences and transform even the most painful of subjects into a soothing nostrum for the human mind.-Stephen Gurney, British Poetry in the Nineteenth Century, Twayne Publishers, NY, 1993, p.182.

I’ve stopped reaching for the cigarette

thanks to an anti-smoking campaign
that found me reading no-smoking signs

even in the loo.

Most of my big decisions

were made with cigarettes,

even before-and-after love-making,

but not any more.

So much slips into history.

I wonder what happened to Karen,

Carol, Susan, so many of those cute girls

I used to look at as the puberty pickle

awakened me to a new story written then,

and now, in soft curves, curls and excitements

that went nowhere, except into the control

of carnal desires and an aesthetic

developing with infinite slowness.

Some things are harder to give up,

to work on and at.

I never had to worry about booze and drugs:

no enticement there,

but if I had to give up books and poetry

I’d miss a gentle intoxication

that has become a dizzying whirl,

a certain madness and a replacement

for friends.

Ron Price

10 July 1995


                (PUSHES AND NUDGES)

Alpine skiing blows your fun-metre to smithereens.-Skiiing Extremes, TV Program, 10 July 1995, 1:30 am.

There comes a time in writing poetry

when you’ve lined up a subject,

like a slope in Alpine skiing, and

you have to take the plunge,

turning when the terrain demands it,

pushing and pulling, tugging rhythmically

down the slope. Sometimes the place is

untracked, unlined; you’re on your own.

Sometimes avalanches happen and you gush.

Sometimes you’re so fluid you melt onto the page.

Pushing to the limits dries you up by midnight

with fresh powder on those tidy sheets.

It has been pushes and nudges all day,

‘cause you’re just 24 inches from

a solid sea of endless shapes

as hard as rock and as soft

as the snow on those magnificent

mountain peaks: writing poetry can

blow a fun-metre to smithereens.

Ron Price

10 July 1995


If gentleness is the quality of civility, acceptance of choice in the judge and allowance of choice in the judged is Shakespeare’s ultimate measure of civility.-W.G. Zeeveld, The Temper of Shakespeare’s Thought, Yale UP, London, 1974, p.257.

Listen to the silence of this garden

in the early morning where the sun

touches everything with its tint of gold.

Birds fly high into the blue sky and their

notes of song dance over this golden-green

here before my eyes in nature’s theatre.

Where are we here? Some garden of Eden

where the tree of knowledge has brought

endless fruits beyond my dreaming? Some

fruits of communion in these green gardens

which grow in the land of knowledge

bring a deep down peace, a joy of the flashing

light in the Centre of Realities.

I am lifted to a plane where I soar

with those birds in the air even as I am

rooted as these trees in this brown earth.

But even with this upligting beauty,

even with this golden tint of joy as deep

as the very rock of ages Precambrian

I can not, yet, take leave of self,

nor reach that ocean of nearness

just down the road and across the sands,

nor can I drink the peerless wine from

goblets just within my reach. I have yet

many valleys to cross and the long journey

has seemingly endless roads.

Meanwhile, birds will sing in this garden

and golden lights will delight my eyes

in the morning in this green garden

near a great, immeasureable ocean.

Ron Price

8 October 1995

*Baha’u’llah, Seven Valleys, Introduction.

                            DISTANT GARDENS

The second century(1944-2044) is destined to witness...the first stirrings of that World Order, of which the present Administrative System is at once the precursor, the nucleus and pattern-an Order which, as it slowly crystallizes and radiates its benign influence...will proclaim the coming of age of the whole human race. -Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, pp.72-73.

The Parthenon, or whatever, is universal because it can continuously inspire new personal realizations in experience. It is simply as impossibility that any one today should experience the Parthenon as the devout Athenian contemporary citizen experienced it...The enduring art-product...was called forth by something occasional, something having its own date and place. But what was evoked is a substance so formed that it can enter into the experience of others and enable them to have more intense and more fully rounded out experiences of their own. -John Dewey, Art as Experience, Capricorn Books, NY, 1958(1934), p. 109.

And so it is universal and will go on

being so down the halls of time,

enriching and intensifying the

experience of those who are willing

to share in its beauty, to experience

it as something new, something mine,

to which I give the meaning, reordering

colour and shape in relation to myself,

to experience delight and overcome the

inchoate, restricted, apathetic, tepid,

fearful, conventional, routine through

some expansion, intensification, fullness:

ordering matter through form, on this journey

to these far places, distant gardens.

Ron Price

23 December 1995

                THE GATE

It was the end of September 1846 as He passed through the Allah-u-Akbar Gate...the Bab knew it was the ending of the first phase of his meteoric mission.-David S. Ruhe, Robe of Light: The Persian Years of the Supreme Prophet Baha’u’llah: 1817-1953, George Ronald, Oxford, 1994, p.74.

Perhaps it was the explosive epidemic

that saved You to continue what was

an intensifying series of sorrows and

disappointments beyond that northern

gate of Shiraz where You paused to

look back at that beautiful bowl valley

with its cyprus trees and azure-tiled domes

where Hafiz and Sadi were now a memory

along with the ruins of Persepolis and its

ancient imperial splendour where You

would soon pass by.

Discouragements and disasters succeeded

one another in bewildering rapidity,

sapping the vitality and dimming the hopes

of Your stoutest supporters. This Gate in 1846

was just the start: the start of what seems

a recital of reverses, massacres and humiliations.

Your plans and conceptions were

beginning to look foredoomed to failure:

the appearance of colossal disaster was

slowly setting in, the saddest and most

fruitless campaign--plunged in an abyss of darkness.

As You left Your wife, never to see her again,

never to see Your home, as You passed through

this Allah-u-Akbar Gate in its rocky pass

on Your way to Isfahan, You knew Your faith

was passing through the fiery tests of

a phase of transition that was to carry it

on its path to a high destiny, more glorious

than anything since its birth and to periods

of utter futility and despondency.

Oh northern gate of Shiraz!

You hold the promise of things unseen,

laden as you are with that weighty Book,

in your arches, towers and balustrades

and of an earthquake of anguish.

Just a point in time, passing as You did,

from the home of Your birth to a new Home

where Your Dust would kindle a fire

that would lead all people through

the Gate to the Promise of All Ages.

Ron Price

25 June 1995


It was the end of September 1846 as He passed through the Allah-u-Akbar Gate...the Bab knew it was the ending of the first phase of his meteoric mission.-David S. Ruhe, Robe of Light: The Persian Years of the Supreme Prophet Baha’u’llah: 1817-1953, George Ronald, Oxford, 1994, p.74.

Perhaps it was the explosive epidemic

that saved You to continue what was

an intensifying series of sorrows and

disappointments beyond that northern

gate of Shiraz where You paused to

look back at that beautiful bowl valley

with its cyprus trees and azure-tiled domes

where Hafiz and Sadi were now a memory

along with the ruins of Persepolis and its

ancient imperial splendour where You

would soon pass by.

Discouragements and disasters succeeded

one another in bewildering rapidity,

sapping the vitality and dimming the hopes

of Your stoutest supporters. This Gate in 1846

was just the start: the start of what seems

a recital of reverses, massacres and humiliations.

Your plans and conceptions were

beginning to look foredoomed to failure:

the appearance of colossal disaster was

slowly setting in, the saddest and most

fruitless campaign--plunged in an abyss of darkness.

As You left Your wife, never to see her again,

never to see Your home, as You passed through

this Allah-u-Akbar Gate in its rocky pass

on Your way to Isfahan, You knew Your faith

was passing through the fiery tests of

a phase of transition that was to carry it

on its path to a high destiny, more glorious

than anything since its birth and to periods

of utter futility and despondency.

Oh northern gate of Shiraz!

You hold the promise of things unseen,

laden as you are with that weighty Book

in your arches, towers and balustrades

and of an earthquake of anguish.

Just a point in time, passing as You did,

from the home of Your birth to a new Home

where Your Dust would kindle a fire

that would lead all people through

the Gate to the Promise of All Ages.

Ron Price

25 June 1995

                            GEORGE, I HARDLY KNEW YOU

I have a faculty...for burying an emotion in my heart or brain for forty years, and exhuming it at the end of that time as fresh as when interred. -Thomas Hardy, Notebooks.

I see their names in the Baha’i News,

in the ‘In Memoriam’ section, by now

plunged into a sea of light in a world

of mysteries, perhaps. I do not know,

not here; I feel an absense even though

I have not seen them in twenty-five years.

A lump comes to my throat: I wonder why.

I hardly knew the man. He is a distant memory:

cold Canadian evenings with hot coffee brewing

in his kitchen; he was such an ordinary man.

No spectacle, no hero: the ordinarily ordinary,

the humanly human. Why do I feel sad

over such distant simplicity?

“George, I hardly knew you!”

I search my memory for more detail,

for just a little something to hang onto

while I cry.

Ron Price

21 December 1995

                                  GOING THE DISTANCE

I prefer to view Conrad’s marriage as really a means toward his major and dominant preoccupation: to establish the best terms on which he could continue as an author.-Frederick J. Karl, Joseph Conrad: The Three Lives. A Biography, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY, 1979, p.367.

The real movers of society maybe not the thinkers and actors on the real stage of the world, but the comparatively insignificant members, those who contribute to what she calls “light literature” including her autobiography. -Helen Thomson, editor, Catherine Helen Spence, University of Queensland Press, 1987, pp.490-491.

When I was in that phone box

back in ‘75 and I had to decide

I saw you as the best terms

on which I could continue

my religious enthusiasm

without obstruction. That

had always been my dominant

preoccupation. That was the

most important decision of my life,

as it turned out or one of them.

Of course, there were other

considerations like:

“I’d be good for you” and

“you’d be good for me”

which one could put in so many ways.

And you have and I have

and here we are twenty yearsbr>
later in ‘95 with our religious

enthusiasms in place and,

all being well, we should go

the distance, of course,

one never knows for sure.

Ron Price

5 October 1995

                      NEW GOLD

When the life of the streets perplexed me long ago I attempted to find an answer to it for myself by going literally into the wilderness, where I was so lost to friends and everyone that not five people crossed my threshold in as many years. I came back to do my days work in its day none the wiser.-Robert Frost(1913) in Robert Frost On Writing, Elaine Barry, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1973, p.86.

Why I know some people, Robert,

who are not able to enjoy their own company

for more than a fleeting moment;

some actually get quite disturbed

by the silence of their own thought

or its absence and, eventually,

by the television.

They’re the sort of people who could not

sit on a middan and dream stars*,

if you know what I mean.

It’s not so much solitude, privacy, some need,

as the time and opportunity to sink their teeth

into some harmonious silence of the spheres,

some momentary sense of transcendence,

some replenishing philosophy, some new life,

a sense of the miracle of being alive,

some simplicity, humility, peace,

an awareness of their oneness,

an indissoluble bond, oceanic:

they seem denied this gift, this station.

And others still in love with easeful Death,

Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme

To take into the air my quiet breath;

Now more than ever seems it rich to die,**

I may feel like this upon a midnight

when I my labours done and some,

I call it, chemical exhaustion sets in,

but now in these last of middle years

I’ve found new gold to take me to

the final track where I will lay my head

one day in some celestial company.

Ron Price

20 December 1995

* Joseph Campbell tells the story of meeting a man on a desolate waste of bogs and he said to the man, “It’s rather dull here.” The man said, “Faith, ye can sit on a middan and dream stars.” ** John Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale.”


I will not hear thy sweet vice

now that you are gone.

so far away, as if forever.

I will not see thy dear face

now that you are gone

across an ocean and two

continents forever.

What is it that thou art?

Just flesh and blood,

imagination, memory part?

O, dear boy, light up the sky!

Be one of His luminous stars,

composed, confident, long-

suffering, undisturbed ostensibly

easy of mind and heart.*

Cry your tears to Him Who hears,

Whose benevolence knows your

blushing and shame and to Him

you will draw near, forever.

Ron Price

26 December 1995


* ‘Abdu’l-Baha describes this state during the period of waiting for the Commission of Investigation. It was a condition He was in even though he was experiencing “an earthquake of anguish.” So often in life we too must do the same. It is not timely for others to know our suffering; it is not suited to their ears. They do not understand and the information about our inner problems, freely given, would not help us or our personal situation. Elizabeth Rochester closes her wonderful letter to international pioneers in January 1981(Pulse of the Pioneer, p.33) along this theme.

This poem was inspired by a reflection on how my mother might have felt on my leaving Canada in 1971 to pioneer in the international area in australia, on leaving Southern Ontario to pioneer in a remote homefront outpost among the Eskimos in 1967, or on leaving the Hamilton area to pioneer to Canada’s most southerly city, Windsor, effectively breaking my umbilical chord. In the third stanza I begin to incorporate into the poem’s content how I might feel if my own son went away. My mother, effectively, becomes me by the end of the poem.

A simple enough poem. The reader should be warned of Walter de la Mare’s statement regarding the words of a poet about his poems: What a writer has to say about his poems and their subterranean waters is often dangerous, and may be even scientifically inaccurate.(Forewords and Afterwords, W.H. Auden, Faber and Faber, London, 1973, p.390) It is difficult to get one’s feelings honest and true, their fleeting hues and shifting shapes. This age demands the highest standards of truth, perhaps more than ever before. The danger la Mare refers to, the inaccuracey, stems, it seems to me, even for the sincere soul in this complex and subtle area. For example, in the last stanza, how can I make the claim that my son will draw near to God for eternity? Is the claim not a little presumptuous at worst and at best a simple and perhaps naive hope of the heart? Perhaps it is a dimly perceived truth. Only the writer can say. The reader can guess at his own life and the writer’s.

        GROWING UP


      We grew up at a time

when Karkhov, Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk

were black foot-prints in the snow.-Bruce Dawe, “What Lies on Us”, Sometimes Gladness, 3rd edition, Longman, 1988, p.142.

Some of us grew up at a time

when Krushev, Kiev and Kennedy

were part of the language of the big world

that we only ever partly understood at best.

The yellow beast and her red friend

gradually became greyer and greyer

and then the whole thing fell apart

in a brave new world for which most

of us had lost whatever bravery we had.

By then, I’d lived in so many houses,

in so many towns, known too many women

and thousands of people

that I was never shocked by headlines

or news from the lighted chirping box

about anonymous deaths, or private griefs

immortalized for seconds on film.

I clean my teeth and wind the clock

for I am still living. I have just returned

from another evening where I watch

merchandised desire and rented embraces

exhaust the night air, where frightened cries

rise occasionally piercing the quiet suburban

landscape. What is happening

now that the land has become grey

and the red and yellow hues

do not threaten us still?

What does all this mean for us

who have seen a century

bathed in blood and tears?

That tempest which blew in back in ‘62

about the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis

is still blowing. That impulse to believe

is still housed, as it was. I am learning

the ancient patience of the land

as oft’my barren fields lie

parched beneath the sun,

where with Your name, my rivers run.

Ron Price

17 December 1995

                GUITAR + SHOCKS = POETRY

Where formerly he could be moved to song, he can do nothing now, he must dig down deeper. One would say that the shock of suffering and vision breaks down, one after another, the living sensitive partitions behind which his identity is hiding. He is harassed, he is tracked down, he is destroyed...He dies and is reborn in and with poetry.....He discovers an essentially free, objectless, creativity in poetry. With each poem, the poet creates a world and savours it. -Jacques Maritain, Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry, New American Library, NY, 1953, pp.130-177.

I was soaked in music in the ‘60s

and like a wandering minstrel

for twenty-five years I took

that ubiquitous guitar, moved to

sing, to song, the pioneer singer.

But the shocks kept coming,

the fires died; there was

nothing left to sing, except dry

bones deep down on the edges

of my tongue, somewhere in my heart.

In my brain a new music did I find,

a certain verbal sound filled with thought

and meaning deep in the womb of some

poetic intuition with tact, subtlety, to express

the inexpressible in common speech, human voice:

close to my heart and defining what my thoughts

are like, conferring nobility on words.

Ron Price

22 December 1995

    A HALO

What most of us lack in order to be artists is not the inceptive emotion or technical skill...It is the capacity to work a vague idea and emotion over into terms of some definite medium...between conception and birth lies a long period of gestation. During this period the inner material of emotion and idea is as much transformed through acting and being acted upon by objective material as the latter undergoes modification when it becomes a medium of expression....the original emotion becomes aesthetic and it adheres to the object formed by the expressive act. -John Dewey, Art as Experience, Capricorn Books, NY, 1958(1934), p75-76.

Now, in case you missed

what Dewey is on about here

in his highly articulate and analytic speech,

let me just say

I’ve been gestating some 33 years

with emotion and idea being tossed around:

rubbed, tortured, bent, swayed, manoeuvered,

tossed, cleansed, smitten, bewildered, agonized,

rocked, deranged, disrupted, wasted, uprooted,

harrowed and, ultimately, transformed by:

difficult people, endless landscapes, massive

institutions, wives, children, people

known and not known, electronic and print media,

an endless pile of the serious and trivial

which I now modify to suit my tastes,

my emotions, my mind, this expressive act

of rushing torrents, still pools,

suspense before a storm,

remote stars of emotional identification,

compression and self-definition.

Some passionate excitement,

some reinforced brilliancy,

some quiet sensuousness

expand my whole being

in a union of sense, need,

impulse, selection, regulation,

redisposition, producing

some intellectual achievement

that I can barely assess,

some celebration with peculiar intensity

of a union of past and present

and a future quickened

by all that has gone before,

by a promise, like a halo.*

Ron Price

23 December 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

          ME AND THEM

Poets seem to be more generally successful at writing elegies than at any other literary genre. -W.H. Auden in Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney, Jahan Ramazani, University of Chicago Press, London, 1994,p.176.

They’re nearly all gone now

into an eternal reciprocity of the years

where the supreme moving impulse moves

this world of being and leveneth with the leven,

consorting, as they seem to do, with undepictable

saints with a trust deep as the sky.

I am not building a bridge here;

the bridge has been built by years of

nightly communing, unseen, closeness felt,

mysteriously, not proved, faith-laden deep,

all questionable, inexplicable, all-a-bit-ify,

but still the closeness feels hoping, praying

for some specificity to go with this deep-down-thing:

maybe in that necrology!

Always thought it gave us some lead time

as we view them through lenses which,

after the passing of time, blur the edges

of a uniqueness we once knew;

trying to reveal, penetrate, we enshroud, create estrangement--

we lose the binding force: where did it go?

Why was it not born? Where do they get it?

Well that is not really my concern, not really.

I’m busy (when I make the time) defining just

where I stand, assessing my state and these words

paint the bridge built, if any, someone’s

ideal--mine--priviledged community of two, or

‘me-and-them’, where I cross all the barriers

of society created by another ‘me-and-them’.

It would seem here, as everywhere, there are

barriers which we overpass not.

Ron Price

28 June 1995

          HELP ME DAD!

The poets achieve their status primarily by their respective abilities to experience deeply or to feel deeply rather than to write well.-Murray Krieger, The New Apologists for Poetry, Greenwood Press, Westport Conn., 1956, p.60.

...the function of writing is to formulate emotional intensity.-Juyce Wexler, Laura Riding’s Pursuit of Truth, Ohio UP, Athens, 1979, p.84.

How did you stand it? All those arguments

and your wife in tears: it used to break my heart.

And here we go again but, by God, I’m going

to nip this one in the bud. I don’t have your

thick skin. I just can’t stand it, wears me out,

leaves me feeling ashamed, remorseful, sad.

How did you feel, dad, when mother cried?

Was your Welsh heart eventually worn thin

by the veil of tears which you had caused?

Did they drown your fires so you could end

your life in a sea of despondency with just

enough hope to give me your second chance?

Help me from your New Abode.

I don’t think I can win this on my own.

Ron Price

4 December 1995

                        MOST PRECIOUS HEM

In this, my half-rest,

Knowing slows for a moment,

And not-knowing enters, silent.

Bearing being itself,

And the fire dances

To the stream’s


-Roethke in Theodore Roethke’s Meditative Sequences, Ann T. Foster, Edwin Mellen Press, Queenston, Ontario, 1985, p.126.

He gave you so very many names,

you’d think I’d know you by now.

But I’m embarressed to say that I

barely know you when I bow.

Noone has ever painted your face,

or a frame where you stand up tall.

As far as I know, noone has tried;

they lack the talent or the gall.

To sing of you in voice or song

one must be indirect.

I cannot capture your radiance;

my praise you can’t detect.

We’re told there is no relationship

between my transient soul

and the eternal thou, that is you;

‘tis an impossible goal.

But there is a line, a figure-ground,

that brings you into view,

not direct, as I might want,

the Blessed Beauty He can woo.

He can woo me right onto the path

where I will find your hidden Gem.

He can woo me so that I’ll be close

to that Most Precious Hem.

Ron Price

11 June 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

          I CAN SEE YOU NOW

I have found it difficult in the last several years to get my mind off the Arc that is being built on Mt Carmel. It fills me with profound pleasure and ardent expectations.-Ron Price, A comment on the poem which follows.

For if we look back at one hundred years of an unexampled history of unremitting progress, we also look forward to many centuries of unfolding fulfillment of divine purpose...incrementally realized...-Universal House of Justice, Ridvan, 1992, p.1.

I can see you now: close and distant, near and far,

with pregnant and tragic import, loosening and

tightening, expanding and contracting, separating

and compacting, soaring and drooping, rising and

falling, dispersive and scattering, hovering and

brooding, unsubstantial lightness, massive blow--

such is the stuff you are made of, up on that hill,

over there, infinitely diversified, but I can express

you here: the significant, the relevant, compressed

and intensified in some exalted rising, surging

and retreating, the sudden thrust, the gradual

insinuation until I am obsessed with your wonder

and can hardly take my mind off of you: the enduring,

the voluminous, the solid, room, filling, power, energy

of position and motion, rightness in placing.

And so I am in poised readiness to meet your

surrounding forces, to persist, to endure with

some energy and some opportunity for action

with my unique experience, gradually letting

you yield to me in the changing light and moods,

your enduring sacredness and charm and your

monumental register of cherished expectations.

Ron Price

23 December 1995


Our journey is attended by a single hound, our own identity.-Emily Dickinson, paraphrase of poem number 822.

This most profound experiment

which we call life and live

is the one that ends with death,

an adventure for the soul

condemned in this prison.

Accepting all its bitter potions

until led to some place beyond

this exquisite experiment which

may do me good. May my strivings

in this frame of life where His Face

is set be acceptable before His eyes.

Ron Price

24 November 1995


Love has done with us

Though we thought it tamed,

Docile to our tether,

-Roger White, “Possessed”, Occasions of Grace, p.63.

Love has not done with us yet,

just added a touch of humour,

a little spice, softened the edge,
taken away some of the fire,

left an engulfing weariness,

but enough drive to find some

way to give Him a final Gift.

This quiet, mild, meek possession,

now of many years sometimes,

momentarily, dies, extinguished

in a frenzy of wild violence: surely

more than just some lower self?

Now love has caged us in old habit,

like the setting sun, or clouds;

I do not bring you joy, but familiarity,

comfort in the garden in the dark

where we smell the frangapani

and wonder what is love, and if....

Love has more for us to do

as it sucks all that we could give

and more, much more, more

than we had ever bargained for

when first we met and tasted

sweetnesses that live forever

in our inner selves where we

also find our Lord, if we can and if....

Ron Price

27 December 1995


Language is always bounded by a frontier of ineffability, by that which absolutely cannot be said in any language.-Ortega Y Gasset in The Seamless Web, Stanley Burnshaw, Penguin Press, 1970, p. 275.

These men were so proud to die.

Will that be true of me?

Will I cherish that final sigh

and be so satisfied to go?

I’m almost jealous of these men

their tears so clean and dry.

Will my final moments fly

so cleanly by, so straight, so high?

Ron Price

26 November 1995


The act of intuition act of perception whereby the content is formed....turned into form.....a work of art is essentially in the artist’s mind...there is an intuited Gestalt...there is contemplation of the complexities, simplicities, import....meaning is synthetically construed...there is candid envisagement....there is clarification and organization of the intuition.....In the process the reader’s imagination of external reality can, in fact, be shaped...a revelation can occur to the reader’s inner life....because of some fresh formulation of their felt life, life which is at the heart of their own culture. -Susanne K. Langer, Feeling and Form: A Theory of Art Developed from Philosophy in a New Key, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1953, Chapters 20 and 21.

Thank you, Susanne, for helping me define

just what I am doing, trying to do,

as I write all these poems,

trying to express all this trying,

this doing, this feeling, this thinking,

this imagining, this memory, this intuiting,

this defining, this clarifying, this organizing,

this shaping, this formulating:

to see with my own eyes

hear with my own ears

know of my own knowledge1,

so that others may do the same.

1 Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words.

Ron Price

November 2001

      A NECESSARY INSTABILITY                         

The community should not be like a chain which is only as strong as its weakest link, but like a garment whose fibers, the warp and weft, may be ever so slender, numerous and intimately connected.-Ron Price with appreciation to Charles S. Peirce, Collected Papers 5.264.

Some see the meaning of life as

making a contribution to the community,

for here the creative personality

is born and matured;

it is the gift of evolution,

the ordering of inequality,

the integration of the individual,

where restraint and self-control

are part of self-esteem. One day

community feeling will triumph

over everything that opposes it,

as natural to man as breathing,

the scientific inevitability of

social harmony slowly overcoming

the force of antisocial dispositions

now so preponderant in the world,

at least in certain places.

Perhaps a Ciceronian stoicism

to start with and a widening

secular spirituality, as the blank page

whirls about in the winds of the spirit

and we come to understand cognition,

the social restraints which limit our

options, define our choices and generate

a necessary instability.

Ron Price

26 June 1995

                 OUR NEW HOME

We have here a centre of gravity, some ideal of the rounded fullness of life in all its variety, a normality, a natural condition in which men can feel easy and at home. There is something trusted and familiar here, an inner battle but not a man divided against himself, or against others, or against nature. There is skepticism here, deep and pervasive, necessary, a collirium. There is a single doctrine, a coherent conceptual schema which explains life and offers solutions to the human condition in all its staggering complexity. We have here a high idealism. We have a new, richer, deeper form of collective self-knowledge of what men are and can be. It is a branching out in a new direction, tidy in some ways, messy in others, still hesitant. It is not random, haphazard or chaotic, but there is tragedy here and a solemnity beneath the joy. There are many burning issues, but within a framework of conception, of definition, of order, of choice. There is something complete and cogent, growing and illuminated by a half-light, formidable and massive, yet unobtrusive and a symptom of a basic sanity in our time.-Ron Price with apprecation to Roger Hausheer for his Introduction to Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas-Isaiah Berlin, Hogarth Press, London, 1979, pp.13-53.

Here is a vision so novel,

so complex; here am I

spellbound in its grip,

in its constellation of forces,

in its richly suggestive doors

of perception, engendering

a perspective for what is

distinctive here, re-examining

the bases of modernity and

an underlying philosophy.

How can one sharply, succinctly,

say what is distinctive here?

Reason and revelation in an embrace

the like of which the world has never seen.

A vision of the world, unique, sublime,

relative to our age, in the words of

an incomparable, brilliant writer

now witnessing the triumph of civility

and we watch good men being made,

albeit slowly, in institutions, at last,

blessed, in a modern oasis

amidst a sea of aridity, imprecision,

suspicion, technical virtuosity, conformity,

monotony, military-industrial complexes,

bureaucracy and a craving

for a new Gemeinschaft.

The crooked timber of humanity

is being made straight before our eyes

in an amazingly complex process

while the heavy weight of recent

centuries of nationalism at last

is loosened while we find a true

international friend in our home.

Ron Price

1 December 1995

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