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John E Marks

Updated: 13 days ago


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A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination. Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry and Other Essays Three poems that illustrate the truth of Shelley's defence of poetry. Three lyric poems that move me, beyond measure: The Cloths of Heaven Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light; I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. W. B. Yeats EDEN ROCK They are waiting for me somewhere beyond Eden Rock: My father, twenty-five, in the same suit Of Genuine Irish Tweed, his terrier Jack Still two years old and trembling at his feet. My mother, twenty-three, in a sprigged dress Drawn at the waist, ribbon in her straw hat, Has spread the stiff white cloth over the grass. Her hair, the colour of wheat, takes on the light. She pours tea from a Thermos, the milk straight From an old H.P. sauce-bottle, a screw Of paper for a cork; slowly sets out The same three plates, the tin cups painted blue. The sky whitens as if lit by three suns. My mother shades her eyes and looks my way Over the drifted stream. My father spins A stone along the water. Leisurely, They beckon to me from the other bank. I hear them call, ‘See where the stream-path is! Crossing is not as hard as you might think.’ I had not thought that it would be like this. Charles Causley Adlestrop Yes. I remember Adlestrop— The name, because one afternoon Of heat the express-train drew up there Unwontedly. It was late June. The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat. No one left and no one came On the bare platform. What I saw Was Adlestrop—only the name And willows, willow-herb, and grass, And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry, No whit less still and lonely fair Than the high cloudlets in the sky. And for that minute a blackbird sang Close by, and round him, mistier, Farther and farther, all the birds Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. Edward Thomas I was born in Altrincham which was then in Cheshire, a long time ago. I lived in London for over ten years and now live in Monton in Salford. I am English, my wife, Martina is Irish. We have five surviving children who I love dearly and who give me much hope for the future. I worked for The Open University for 30 years teaching literature, linguistics and history. I have survived cancer and sepsis. I love reading poetry and novels from the past mainly British, Irish and American: Chaucer, Donne, Larkin, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Thomas Hardy, Dickens, Joyce, Christopher Marlowe, Blake, Plath, Yeats, Adrienne Rich, Denise Leveroff, GM Hopkins, Kavanagh, Owen, Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Emily Bronte.....the list goes on. I try to learn from these poets of the past as well as from many of the poets here on WOL: David, Ray, Jacob, Rachel, Vautlaw, Mae, Brian, Taylor, Stu, Mark, Cynthia and many others. I try to remain open minded and do not often write from a purely personal perspective. I attempt to give a voice to the voiceless: the dead, persecuted minorities especially the Ezedi from Shingal in Iraq, people lacking formal education but with much wisdom. I write for a wide audience and I hope that I treat my reader as an intelligent collaborator in creating the 'meaning' of the poem. The poet, through innovation in both word choice and form, seemingly rends significance from thin air: as in my favourite poem 'Sailing to Byzantium' by the Anglo-Irish poet W B Yeats and 'In Memory of my Mother' by Patrick Kavanagh: I do not think of you lying in the wet clay Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see You walking down a lane among the poplars On your way to the station, or happily Going to second Mass on a summer Sunday - You meet me and you say: 'Don't forget to see about the cattle - ' Among your earthiest words the angels stray. And I think of you walking along a headland Of green oats in June, So full of repose, so rich with life - And I see us meeting at the end of a town On a fair day by accident, after The bargains are all made and we can walk Together through the shops and stalls and markets Free in the oriental streets of thought. O you are not lying in the wet clay, For it is a harvest evening now and we Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight And you smile up at us - eternally. WORDPRESS: RECENT BOOKS: 'A waste of time' 'Shadows and Dust'


SONG FOR THE OLD YEAR Redemption comes at such a cost Freezing winds off the Irish sea Blow me away from hearth and home At such a cost - loss pressing on loss - Yet still the winter-birds sing, Seemingly so carelessly, And we know it costs them their whole life To fly this way and sing and eat and build and build Yet still this merely human, framed of earth, Cannot scrape away the curse of discontent: Sitting solid as a rock, squatting squarely On the chest where a bird would build a nest Then fly high high into the blue skies of summer So far, far away from this deep and dark complacency. DRINKING WHERE THE RIVER BED IS DRY Charlie and I have walked our post-cancer walks Down this narrow stretch of green in the city For a full decade now. We’ve aged together But not like malt, we’ve blended into each other, Man and Dog. He recognizes the smells, me the sights, And his life is shorter than mine. That afflicts me like A sentence. Very few minutes pass Without me thinking of that. He connects me to the Pack, little knowing that the human herd is what I find Most offensive, most absurd. I try to fly past those nets Of race, nationality and religion. A new Daedalus come To cry: “my medium is the heavens, my medium is the sky.” But we walk slower and slower each day, me clearing Up his shit, him watching the dreary Manchester sky. ............................................................................ THE STOLEN CHILD I remember falling as a child And being lifted by a faeiry-wild She kissed my cheek and mussed my hair And then she wasn’t there. Some blind folk see the faeries clear For faeries are always close or near. Oh, better far than what we see Are faeiry wings that brush our faces Like spiders’ webs or shimmering laces Such magical, lovely, lonely things. A rustle in the wind reminds us A faeiry sprite is near. Shush! Do not scare her She is full of fear until her night is spent Her tears upon the pillow-scent… The crow she sings her lullaby as harsh as harsh can be But the golden faeiry goddess makes it so lovely for me. ............................................................................

All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.

Audio entries by John E Marks

They're burning Amazonia (22/08/2019)

Al-Andalus (19/08/2019)

A home I never had (18/08/2019)

VORTEX (18/08/2019)

Dark Star (17/08/2019)

Moon, moon (13/08/2019)

The beautiful Cathars of Languedoc (12/08/2019)

The Last Judgement (12/08/2019)


HOLY BROKENNESS (11/08/2019)

More audio from John E Marks…

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steven arthur

Thu 11th Apr 2019 11:13

Never stop writing, John.

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Becky Who

Mon 1st Apr 2019 17:14

Hi John, thanks for the birthday wishes, so sweet of you to remember! Sorry I've not been around much recently, think I've missed a few things. You ok?

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John Marks

Sat 23rd Mar 2019 23:34

Not too bad Jacob me ol'mukker. Can't walk, in pain a lot. BUT my daughter is about to give birth and that is beyond anything. I'm sure you know. Thanks for the ointment you sent me/ It is having an ameliorative effect but not enough. I need surgery and i'm seeing the surgeon on the 28th. More I read about Colorado, the more I like it. VERY progressive for a western state. All the best now and forever to you and your family. John

steven arthur

Sat 23rd Mar 2019 12:32

Hope you are well my friend. You and your family are in my thoughts, John.🙏

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M.C. Newberry

Sat 16th Mar 2019 15:56

Hello John - many thanks for your comment on my home page - and the quoted extract from the Binyon poem. Even
reading those lines brought the moisture to my eyes, such
is the effect on me of their irresistible evocation of nature's power for renewal.
And, yes, the first name is Mark.

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Fri 8th Mar 2019 22:15

Still about, if only for now..

Thanks, John.

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John Marks

Wed 27th Feb 2019 20:21

Thank you Trevor, Kate and Mae for stopping by and for your encouragement. Best wishes - John

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trevor homer

Wed 27th Feb 2019 11:29

The poem was written for my granddaughter - so for you to offer such a personal comment means a great deal to me. By the way, I love the reflective mood of Drinking Where The River Bed Is Dry

<Deleted User> (19913)

Thu 21st Feb 2019 03:42

Hi John, I wanted to drop by and say how much I enjoy your work, and your supportive comments - particularly the lovely one you took the time to make on my blog. There's a beautiful quality to your work that leaves me wanting more. Thanks again, Kate

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Mae Foreman

Sun 3rd Feb 2019 12:49

Impressing bio John! I can relate on some issues (check my bio). I also loved your sample "stolen child"! I can say it faintly reminds me of the Peter Pan fantasy; some magical shadow sweeping you off in the middle of the night and taking into a dreamworld!🎈
I believe you definitely have a lot of things to say.

Big Sal

Sat 19th Jan 2019 12:46

Thank you much for stopping by to read my work well into the beginning of 2019, John.

I do hope you were able to scrape some enjoyment from them!

Until next time, Excelsior!

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Taylor Crowshaw

Sat 19th Jan 2019 06:20

Thank you for your comment on The Matriarch John. I loved the poem you sent..x

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John Marks

Sat 19th Jan 2019 05:22

"Glory is like a circle in the water, which never ceaseth to enlarge itself, till, by broad spreading, it disperse to naught."

Henry VI Pt 1


Tue 15th Jan 2019 07:45

'The embroidered cloths' is one of the most amazing poems I have read in many a year John.

A woven typeset with a golden thread running all the though it. From its inception in those little grey cells to a tapestry of woven brilliance colour and light.


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John Marks

Sat 29th Dec 2018 21:45

Thanks Ray, Big Sal, Po, Taylor and Martin for getting in touch. A healthy and happy new year to you all!

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."

(Little Gidding)”
― T.S. Eliot

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Fri 28th Dec 2018 15:59

Hi John. I wanted to say that I appreciate your comment about rhetoric on my poem Letter from the Streets. I felt that there was probably enough flak to basically undermine any merit the poem had, based purely on an idea and not supposed to be a treatise on the subject. This is why I have contacted you directly. I think rhetoric should add views certainly, but I'd had enough in this case. I hope you will understand!


Big Sal

Mon 24th Dec 2018 12:40

Happy holidays to you and yours as well, John. Hope the New Year is a better one.

Be well.😀


Sat 15th Dec 2018 06:44

Bloody hell John I am crying this morning after reading some of your work.

You are one of the most crafted poets I have read in my life.


Thu 29th Nov 2018 22:54

Good evening John.

When I have time I will dive a little deeper and Immerse myself in your work.

Thank you for your support and comments

Big Sal

Fri 23rd Nov 2018 18:35

Thanks for everything, John.

I also appreciate the shout out on your newly-typed up biography for WOL.

We can all stand to learn something from each other.🎇

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Taylor Crowshaw

Wed 21st Nov 2018 21:19

Thank you for your comments on The Dance John, it is wonderful to read the perspectives seen in our work, from another's view. Taylor

Big Sal

Sat 20th Oct 2018 01:16

I'm glad you like the piece John, not many people did. As for all the great work you've been posting up, I can only hope you preserve them in some additional way as they are something special and deserve recognition.

Keep on writing my friend, and good health and wishes to you and yours. 👍

Be well.💪

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Martin Elder

Sun 30th Sep 2018 10:25

Thanks for your words John. I always look forward to reading your work and I love your sample poems which are good reflection of what you write. I totally understand what you mean about a dreary Manchester sky as I live in the area myself.
Keep writing and posting my friend
all the best

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John Marks

Fri 31st Aug 2018 10:55

Thank you to all of you kind people who have taken the time to comment upon my scribbling. Kindness is, for me, the greatest, and most under-rated, of the virtues. Thank you Big Sal for planting in my head the possibility (I was going to write 'positing' but that's a very silly word) that I might be around at the end of time. Has my head spinning that. I love to read poetry, I read everyday if possible, and I try to learn from other poets of the past and present. I really admire the work of the deeply unfashionable, Anglo-American, Anglican poet TS Eliot:

“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?”

Big Sal

Thu 30th Aug 2018 15:04

Here's hoping you keep writing until the end of time John.👍

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Frances Macaulay Forde

Fri 17th Aug 2018 03:00

G'day John,
I've bought and read your Kindle chapbook 'A Waste of Time' and do not consider it so... I enjoyed it!
Especially the more personal poems like 'Children' or the 'Photograph'; the very sad 'Words that I forget' and 'Rainy September'.
Unfortunately I no longer buy books but only Kindle versions because my house is FULL! So although I would like to have purchased it, apparently 'Shadows and Dust' is only available to read on Amazon's app - which I don't want.
You are a favourite so I shall keep an eye out for more on WOL.

UPDATE: I'm happy to report I now have the e-book 'Shadows and Dust' and will dive in and enjoy!

<Deleted User> (13762)

Mon 30th Jul 2018 08:36

Hi John
astir in SW Wales
this side of the Atlantic
travels on hold . . .

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Darren J Beaney

Mon 11th Jun 2018 19:27

Hi John

Thanks for the message, it was a pleasure to read your work. I love the idea of thoughts forming like an Oxbow lake. Terrific!

Having just read your profile -
I also love the way you have kept those 3 years going!


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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Sun 15th Oct 2017 11:55

I appreciate your interest and your comments. I always consider very carefully suggestions from fellow writers. And I have benefitted hugely.

But, in the case of 'The Dreamfooter', I would not now make alterations. It has been twice published and three times presented in spoken poetry 'programmes'.

I often make changes years after first 'writing'. Just not this time.

Thanks much. And, please, never hesitate to challenge anything I write. That is real 'sharing'.

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Mon 10th Jul 2017 12:43

Interesting how 'history' is essentially 'story' as opposed to 'records'. The account itself, or at least the slant of it, depends on the person/s reporting of the happening/s, personal interests and the effective result/s. Records are then hugely influenced.

Point of view must always be a cautionary background to 'history'.

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