A Page of Verse 


A winter visit

Blessing of Blessings

When a country obtains great power


A winter visit


  Now she’s ninety I walk through the local park

  where, too cold, the usual peacocks do not screech

  and neighbouring lights come on before it’s dark.


  Dare I affirm to her, so aged and so frail,

  that from one pale dot of peacock’s sperm

  spring forth all the colours of a peacock’s tail?


I do. But she like the sibyl says, ‘I would die’;

then complains, ‘This winter I’m half dead, son.'

  And because it’s true I want to cry.


  Yet must not (although only Nothing keeps)

  for I inhabit a white coat not a black

  even here --  and am not qualified to weep.


  So I speak of small approximate things,

  of how I saw, in the park, four flamingos

  standing, one-legged on ice, heads beneath wings.


Dannie Abse


[My gratitude to Dannie Abse for permission to

reproduce this - and, in later issues - other of 

his poems]


                                 Blessing of blessings

If you are blessed with good health, the ability to read and write,
Come from a loving family, have access to education and a job,
If your are blessed with freedom of speech and action,
A roof over your head, enough to eat,
Clean water and energy supplies, and a little money;
If you are blessed living in a democratic state,
With a vote and a representative Government,
Armed forces to defend you and a free press;
If you are blessed with access to communication,  
To health care and doctors, a fair and just legal system,
Protection by Police Fire and Ambulance services,
To accessible public transport, your own bicycle or car,
Having a passport to travel and witness how others live,
You are blessed more, much more,  
Than the majority of the world¹s population.
Count your blessings daily when you awake
And read them nightly before you sleep.
Your gift is two additional blessings daily,
The blessing of blessings.

Laurie Phillips


When a country obtains great power,

it becomes like the sea:
   all streams run downward into it.
   The more powerful it grows, 
   the greater the need for humility.
   Humility means trusting the Tao, 
   thus never needing to be defensive.

   A great nation is like a great man:
   When he makes a mistake, he realizes it.
   Having realized it, he admits it.
   Having admitted it, he corrects it.
   He considers those who point out his faults 
   as his most benevolent teachers.
   He thinks of his enemy 
  as the shadow that he himself casts.

   If a nation is centred in the Tao, 
   if it nourishes its own people 
   and doesn't meddle in the affairs of others, 
   it will be a light to all nations in the world.

Tao Te Ching  
  Lao-tzu (abt.551-479 BC