My older son went away to university last week.  It’s a big transition for us, as well as him.  My thoughts are of a bird leaving the nest; and of the cycle of seasons, especially that the spring blossom leads to fruit later and the autumn leaves reveal the buds for next spring.  Here’s the haiku that came out of this …


fly well my fledgling

through falling cherry blossom

my autumn your spring


A couple of weeks ago, I was on a course in Salisbury and went to choral evensong at the cathedral (which is one of my favourite cathedrals).

Salisbury Cathedral

One evening, the girls’ choir sang as an anthem Dorothy Parker’s poem, Prayer For A New Mother, set to music by Richard Shephard.  I found it very moving.

I thought I might use it in church this Sunday, but I don’t think it’s going to fit into an already over-crowded liturgy.  However, I want to share it, so I’ll share it with you . . .


The things she knew, let her forget again –

The voices in the sky, the fear, the cold,

The gaping shepherds, and the queer old men

Piling their clumsy gifts of foreign gold.


Let her have laughter with her little one;

Teach her the endless, tuneless songs to sing,

Grant her the right to whisper to her son

The foolish names one dare not call a king.


Keep from her dreams the rumble of a crowd,

The smell of rough-cut wood, the trail of red,

The thick and chilly whiteness of the shroud

That wraps the strange new body of the dead.


Ah, let her go, kind Lord, where mothers go

And boast his pretty words and ways, and plan

The proud and happy years that they shall know

Together, when her son is grown a man.



And here’s a link to it being sung (although not by a choir in Salisbury Cathedral).

The light shines in the darkness

The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”  

(St John 1.5 (New International Version))

I’m not sure if this should be a Christmas or an Advent sonnet.  You decide!

The earth was dark, and dark misunderstood
the fragile point of light that pricked its veil.
These wise men, strong men, shepherds, kings must fail:
impressed by stars and glory, greatness, good,
salvation, justice, peace, the reign of God.
Bring gold!  Bring worship!  Raise the holy grail
and God will come in pow’r and will prevail!
Dark hope.  Light smouldered small on blood stained wood.
And on the path the keepers of the door
sit in the dark and, silent, watch and wait
for those who leave the lights they knew before
to find a hand to lead them through the gate.
   The earth is dark and, try with all its might,
   the dark will never understand the light.

© 2004 Alex Mabbs


I became interested in haiku while on retreat a couple of years ago.  I like these disciplined poetic forms, and one of the particular attractions of haiku for me is that it is in the present tense.  I am trying to live more in the present tense.   The other rules of haiku are: three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively, no punctuation, no capitals, and no rhyme.

This was one of my first.


clump of hill-crest trees

charcoal black against the sky

the unhurried crow