A Magical Language

Posted in Esoterica, Favourite Poets, Quotations with tags , on October 7, 2015 by James Munro

“The language of poetic myth anciently current in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe was a magical language bound up with popular religious ceremonies in honour of the Moon-goddess, or Muse, some of them dating from the Old Stone Age. This remains the language of true poetry.” (Robert Graves, The White Goddess)

Robert Graves



Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems on October 6, 2015 by James Munro


Like the sea
my soul is in turmoil,
yet I keep dancing,
prancing around on this earth.

I cannot break free,
cannot throw off even one,
let alone both.

The King and Queen of Wands

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , , on September 22, 2015 by James Munro

King of Wands

The Lion King,
humane and wise.
Old Soul;
Sun King in the Land of Faerie.

His only failing?
Being oblivious
to petty jealousies,
smiling lies
and infidelities.

Arthur’s bane.

Queen of Wands

If the King is Arthur,
this is Guinevere, Sun Queen,
femme fatale.

She walks by and flowers open,
sunflowers follow her
with their great black and yellow eye.

Once seen
never forgotten:
yours until you die.

That red hair.
That black familiar.

The WillyBs

Posted in My Poems on September 18, 2015 by James Munro


One should clearly keep clones caged. Not easy to say.
Not easy to do. They have a way of growing up,
becoming indistinguishable from oneself
at that age. Which of course is their point. You may

love them. Don’t. If you give them an hour, they’ll take over
your life. It won’t be just your heart, your eyes,
your hips that will be replaced. It will be you.

Temper mercy with sense. It was not as replacements
that they were created, brought into the world,
it was as spare parts. Parts. To be used as needed.

But will they understand that? WillyB-3 is
resentful still about his eye. His eye,
I ask you. I said, Willy, it was never your eye,
it is my eye; that eye you still have
is my eye: you are all me, all mine.

WillyB-4, who is minus most of his teeth
from my dental op and can’t talk properly –
and will probably provide me with my new liver
which will be the end of him, said – “I shink Mary’sh
right.” “Mary?” “Mary. She shaysh we are
people, shame ash her, shame ash you.”

“Listen, Willy. You know you are not people.
You have no name, no parents, no passport,
all you have is the codeword WillyB
linking you to me, and a number, you are
a clone, my fourth, like WillyB-1 and WillyB-
2 were, and these others are. That liver
is as much part of my body as this liver here is,
the body you think of as yours is as much
my body as this one I am at present using.

“What will happen when I need a brain?
That brain will be programmed with all my knowledge,
all my memories, all my feelings – your
few little thoughts – if they are your thoughts – will cease
to be like a ripple on a pond – my pond.”


Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on September 12, 2015 by James Munro


In silence think on death. And life.
Is that his wife and child pictured in
the window? 
Did he do what he came to do?
Did they?

And you. Have you done, are you doing,
what you 
came to do? Soon you too
will be dust, a memory, 
an inspiration to others.

Or an awful warning.

That Much Larger Audience!

Posted in Favourite images with tags , on September 9, 2015 by James Munro


Page of Swords

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on September 8, 2015 by James Munro

Page Swords tnl

Winter is coming.
The winds are blowing.
The swallows are gone.

I cannot be staying
with the grey goose going,
and the wild swan.

My First Guru Said (from BETTER THAN SLEEP)

Posted in My Poems with tags on September 6, 2015 by James Munro

dolphin grinning

My first guru said:
Seek for a second I behind
The you you know,
You who know.
I sought and found –
Grinning like a dolphin –
I who watch myself and laugh.

My next guru said:
Seek now the third I.
I sought and found
I who do not laugh.

My last guru said:
Seek out The Eagle,
I Who Stand Aloof,
Who Soar And Fly:
The Final I.

I found another I and then
Another I, another I, another – I found
And sought beyond some final I,
Found nothing there
Save I who sought
Alone and wandering,

Between the bins,
Among the stars.

The Hermit

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on September 5, 2015 by James Munro

IX - The Hermit

Perhaps he is setting out in the dark
for an unknown land,
following his heart, it may be,
following the wild wind,
but going –
going where the road goes.

Or perhaps he has lost that spark.
His heart, too, has grown old,
and all he can do now is cling to what he has,
what he knows.

Or perhaps, undecided,
he simply stood still in the snow
and froze.

Ace of Pentacles

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on September 3, 2015 by James Munro


Time to leave the garden,
waiting for the sun to rise,
the moon to rise,
spring to come, summer, autumn,
winter, frost, snow …
spring again.
Time to go.

Your mountains climbed,
that same path will bring you  
back into the garden

Queen of Cups

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on September 2, 2015 by James Munro

Queen of Cups

The perfect wife,
perfect lover, perfect mother,
yet always dreaming of the sea,
always longing to be free.

Was she a mermaid in another life?

God Can’t

Posted in Favourite Poems, Thoughts with tags , , , on September 1, 2015 by James Munro

Why?” is a poem written many years ago by my sister Margaret – who died soon afterwards when a driver came out of a side-road without looking and hit her and killed her. She was twenty-five.


Why did our God make a world full of hate?
Was it because he discovered too late
The power of the devil to order our fate
And gave the world to him?
No. This can’t be so.

Why did our God let His only Son die?
Was it that men might pass coldly by?
Or historical warning that man should not try
Loving his enemies?
This cannot be so.

Why did He promise the Church His own power?
Was it to last just until that dread hour
When in Satan’s weapons man’s new strength did tower
To destroy his brother?
No. This was not so.

Why does He bless us with bountiful store?
Why does he then show the millions more
Who starving collapse in relief at death’s door?
That we turn then away?
No, this can’t be so.

Does God then bid us to live for the day?
Is His love temporarily under the sway
Of the world? And its hatred, its standards, our way,
Our protection?
This can ne’er be so.

Must we still learn to hate people unseen?
Must we not learn from our evil routine
Of destruction and want and the suffering these mean?
Must we not care?
This we must do.

Can we then trust in our God’s power alone?
Do we believe He is still on the throne?
That love conquers all, and that victory is won
When secure in His keeping we follow the Son
Love our one weapon until life is done,
And till His kingdom come? –
This will be so.

So far as I know, none of us ever “blamed” God for her death. Should we have? Listen to Stephen Fry:

Hm. And now read an “answer” to Stephen that was published in the Guardian. It was written by Giles Frazer and you can find the full article HERE.

  • What greater example of speaking truth to power could there be than this? And for absolutely no reward. For if Fry is right about God being an omnipotent bastard, then he could hardly expect to be rewarded for his honest observations. He tells the truth then burns in eternity. In this scenario, Fry is entirely heroic in his truth telling.
  • Too many religious people actually worship power. They imagine the source of ultimate power, give it a name (God, Allah, Yahweh) etc, and then try and cosy up to it, aligning their interests with those of the boss. In this they are just the same as many non-religious people, except they believe that ultimate power is metaphysically situated. Whether it be a king or a prime minister or a CEO or God: the temptation is always to suck up to power.
  • This is why the Jesus story is, for me, the most theologically revolutionary story that there can be. Because it imagines God and power separated. God as a baby. God poor. God helpless on a cross. God with a mocking and ironic crown of thorns. In these scenes it is Caesar who has the power. And so the question posed is: which one will you follow when push comes to shove? You can follow what is right and get strung up for it. Or you can cosy up to power and do as you are told. By saying that he will stare ultimate power in the face and, without fear, call it by its real name, Fry has indicated he is on the side of the angels (even though he does not believe in them). Indeed, Fry is following in a long tradition of religious polemic, from Job to Blake and beyond.

This is no answer. In fact it is nonsense. It is nonsense because the man Jesus was not God, whom he normally refers to as “the Father” or “my Father”: at most Jesus is called the Son of God, more usually the Son of Man; what we mean by the word “God” is not “someone” whether a baby or a grown-up, poor or rich, helpless or powerful, mocked or mocker.

The truth is that the answer both to the questions Margaret asked in her poem and to the point being made by Stephen is:


If He could, He would.

Let’s go back to the nitty-gritty, the heart of Christianity: not “God helpless on a cross” as Giles Frazer would have us understand it, but the crucifixion of a man who had prayed “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me,” and on the cross “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”, and who, at the end, cried out “Father, into they hands I commit my spirit!”


If God is good, He would have prevented the Crucifixion from ever happening. But He didn’t. Which means either He didn’t want to prevent it, or He couldn’t prevent it – it had to happen. In other words, either God is not omnibenevolent (wholly good) or He is not omnipotent (all-powerful).

What do I mean by “it had to happen”?

If you keep tossing a coin, it won’t keep coming down “heads”. It will eventually come down “tails”. It has to happen. And if you toss it often enough, it will eventually average 50% “heads” and 50% “tails”. It has to happen.

Now suppose that “heads” is Good and “tails” is Evil.

2 sides

That is how the universe is. There is nothing God can do about it.

One day, the sun will grow cold and that will be the end of the solar system as we know it. Energy cannot be given out without the source eventually becoming exhausted. It has to happen.

That, as I said above, is how the universe is. There is nothing God can do about it.

Don’t say He could have created a different universe. It is how any universe would be. Light without dark is impossible. As is heat without cold. Likewise, though more subjectively, joy without sorrow. And even more subjectively, beauty without ugliness. And how about intelligence without stupidity? Oh, that’s not the same! No? “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.”

This is the only possible universe. No doubt there are hotter worlds and colder worlds, worlds that are all desert with a few oases or none at all, or all sea with a few islands or none at all; and worlds that are all ice or all molten lava (and each of them no doubt a “best possible world” in its own way: imagine a seal in a desert or a desert fox in the Artctic). That is part and parcel of the universe. If there are other universes – a multiverse – the same applies, but on a larger scale: that will be the only possible multiverse. What happens there will be what has to happen: there will be nothing God can do about it.


No, I’m afraid He isn’t.

The Lovers

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , on September 1, 2015 by James Munro

VI - The Lovers

Two young people
each to each unknown, but wishing.

Can they reach each other?
They are so different. And can they
survive the reaching?

Raphael, knowing he cannot hold them back,
raises his wings to protect,
his hands in blessing …

Two young people
meet and touch and fall in love
and now go out to face the world alone.

to D. F. (Denny)

Posted in My Poems with tags , , on April 19, 2015 by James Munro


Guinea pigs and sunshine, an old tree,
and you perched up on the swaying fence
gazing out across the gardens,
dreaming, grave as only a little girl can be.

Let’s run away!

Gently I stroke the sleek guinea-pig hair
sun-warm upon my lap; stare
back up at you, worshipping.

So long ago and far away.
The past is a foreign country – but not
so foreign to us: we used to live there.

© James Munro

M. L.

Posted in My Poems with tags , on April 17, 2015 by James Munro

Casablanca sunrise

For some today the worry and the work
go on, the weariness, and then for some the wine.
For some the wonder of it all perhaps.
But not for you. For some today
there will be no tomorrow.
For you there’s no today.
In the tatty sun-split Spanish streets
behind the Institute
the anger and the laughter and the tears
build up once more; soon
they’ll fade with evening.
Lalla Yacout in the twilight:
Arabs throng and fight for space, a place
on the old French buses, hanging from doors and windows,
then are gone. Night falls. For most
the sun will rise again, but not for you.

© James Munro

[Written on the death of a friend when I lved in Casablanca, many years ago …]

The Magician

Posted in My Poems, Tarot Poems with tags , , on March 20, 2015 by James Munro

I - The Magician

Is he
a wild birth
full of tricks and lies
and whatever it takes to survive,
a joker, a conjurer,
the speed of the hand and the spiel
defeating the eye?

Or is he
an old soul, a real magician,
a wizard
who juggles the elements
mixing Fire and Water,
making the Earth one with the Sky?

© James Munro


Posted in My Poems with tags , on March 10, 2015 by James Munro
Dog in Garden

The dog across the road
lives in their garden –
a beautiful garden –
but sits at the garden gate
nose poked out
peering at the passing world.

You and me both, friend.
Trapped by circumstances.

© James Munro

Save as: Marilena 1

Posted in My Poems with tags , , on March 9, 2015 by James Munro


If you insist on going around
or rather undressed
like a Minoan priestess
in the middle of winter,
you will get ill.

And if you insist on going out
and enjoying yourself
when all around you
are saving money for a rainier day,
you will always be broke.

If you insist on being a poet,
and on looking at the world
with the eyes of a child,
you will see heaven –
but you will still get ill
and still always be broke.

© James Munro

The Road

Posted in My Poems on March 4, 2015 by James Munro

Ashwell Road fork

The road rolls on
A fork appears
We pray and choose
And then are gone

Loving, we lose
As every day
The roads flash by
And others choose

And then are gone
Along with life
And we are left
The road goes on

© James Munro

With that kiss …

Posted in Favourite Poems, Favourite Poets, Translations with tags , , on February 26, 2015 by James Munro

Ramón Jiménez

(from the Spanish of Juan Ramón Jiménez)

With that kiss, your mouth
to my mouth, a rose-tree
was sown whose roots
gnaw at my heart.

It was autumn, the vast, empty sky
filled with sunlight
that sucked up all the gold of life
in columns of splendour.

Now, dry summer-time
has come, and the rose-tree – everything passes! –
has opened, too late
a bud of pain in each of my eyes.

Translation © James Munro