A Page of Verse
A winter visit
Blessing of Blessings
When a country obtains great power
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?
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.
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.
[My gratitude to Dannie Abse for permission to
reproduce this - and, in later issues - other of
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.
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 BCE)