Tuesday, 22 February 2011


“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” - Henry David Thoreau

I was mining my archives again this evening looking through old notebooks, yellowing paper, loose pages. You know you’re ageing when the dates on old journals are those of the last century and the paper is starting to yellow. A poem I wrote now rediscovered as composed a long time ago during an “interesting” time of my life where youthful exuberance had already started giving way to more grounded maturity and when experiences (dearly paid for) had already started to colour indelibly my persona.

My Life’s Two Sides

My life is a lost city, hidden to all by the vast desert;
As sandstorms raised by relentless winds lash sand grains
Against the sharp rocks, wearing them down,
Travellers lose their way on duplicitous paths.
My life is a sand grain, raised by the wind
Whirling, falling, mixing with millions of others;
A single grain of sand, identical with all the rest,
Lost as it is, indistinguishable amongst others in the sand dunes.

My life is the lonely man walking along deserted streets
Of city drenched by storms and pelting winter rain.
The road, the man, the rain, all alone
Under downpour and leaden skies, with freezing cold inside and out.
My life a drop of rain, falling with all the others,
Indistinguishable from the rest, cascading down,
Splashing into the gutter, mixing with the roiling current
Lost, no longer pure rain, but now only muddy water flowing away.

My life is the carpet of wildflowers sprouting amongst
The graves of an old, disused cemetery, forgotten by all.
The wild gush of blooming energy, of vitality and zest
Next to the lifeless graves, amongst cold headstones and ancient marble.
My life a single bloom plucked, and already withering, fading,
As desecrating hand lets it carelessly fall to the ground.
Amongst the thousands of others, still in their prime, alive
Who’ll even notice that single dying blossom?

My life a greenwood tree, bursting with verdant juices,
The green of Spring an untold hope and energy,
Its branches home to singing birds, butterflies, bees;
A microcosm or a macrocosm depending on your point of view.
My life an autumn leaf amongst all others, yellow, dead, falling
As the first rains rush down and take it to the ground with hundreds more.
A single leaf, indistinguishable from the thousands of others, fallen,
My life a dead leaf, insignificant, desolate like so many of its brothers.


  1. Although this is a beautiful poem with some wonderful images in it, Nicholas, I found it also quite unsettling. It seems to have been written in some very dark and pessimistic period of your life, which I hope you have outgrown.
    Knowing ourselves and self-evaluating is something that we should all do regularly, but most people nowadays do not want look inside themselves or are too scared to. Assessing our life is often left till the last minute before we die and then we may find ourselves leaving this earth with baggage full of regrets, bitterness and sadness.

  2. I agree.... this poem gave me goosebumps!!!!
    Very dark and scary.....