The Fairy Light
A light appeared on the darkest hill,
The girl fell once, and was left behind,
I caught her arm and we crossed the rill:
‘I can’t go on - I think I’m blind.’
‘We’ve all been blind to the things that count
But there’s the light - if you’ll follow me
We may be able to sight the truth,
And catch a glimpse of eternity.’
The light had pranced by the farmer's gate,
Followed the stony lane along,
Leapt a thicket of tangled thorns,
Flashed and fluttered, and bounded on.
‘It’s only a lonely firefly,
A torch, or maybe a will-o-wisp, ’
She clutched her leg and she gave a cry,
I left her there in the morning mist.
‘I must go on! ’ I could hear the words
The wind had snatched at my shallow breath,
‘To stay is worse than to venture on,
For standing still is a living death.’
I took the hill like a man possessed
And clawed a way through the cloying weed,
Prayed and whispered and fought for breath
To follow the light of my driving need.
The light had stopped at the stony crest
To turn its wavering glow on me,
I caught it fast in my fevered hand
And felt the light spread instantly.
The hill erupted in seas and stars,
The heavens wheeled and whirled above,
I ceased to be; but whispered ‘Why? ’
A word, in answer, whispered – ‘Love! ’
But love like this was not content,
Rather a pit of burning pain,
Only a well of innocence
Could blend unhurt in the light’s refrain.
Reflecting the inner glow of love
The great creation wheeled in grace
While I stood dark and shadow-formed,
Apart - as one of the human race!
They found me there at the break of day;
The girl had only a line to tell:
‘He must have suffered a stroke’, she said,
‘His face was pale, and then he fell.’
She didn’t mention the fairy light
We’d chased forever across the land;
The girl was lucky - I lost my sight,
And walk the world with a withered hand!
3 February 1979