A Poem

I could have wept to see

The world at such a stretch performed below me

Or largely frozen for me:

Peaceful flanks and banks of

Chipped and hardened rock;

Gentle waves of forest lower down

And vulnerable townspieces

In a haze of secrets and modesties.


This one reluctant beginning

By a climber who is driven more

Through the lack of action, not

The desire for it; by the consanguinity

Of sun and space:

Wrenched earthwards, wet and weary

Later that afternoon when the world changed

And sought to prevent my return.


I am losing sight of the beginnings

That have lost their way before midday,

Put paid to by my bad form,

Or have petered out like a nameless path

Or made a nonsense of

By what has already been achieved

And need not be again.


I will weep to see

The heights I will not have reached

The exposures to which I will not be subjected,

The intimacy with an open expanse

That is the private joy of the mountain climber.

Every broken beginning may be little more

Than talk into a void,

May require more tenacity than

A five-hour climb

But will wrench the emotions clear

Into a more lucid dimension


That will stir the sinews to raise the arm,

Bid the spirit to flame.

6 Responses to A Poem

  1. leahfrance says:

    I absolutely love this poem, Ben. It is not only eloquent and beautifully profound, but it speaks directly to my current situation and gives voice to my own thoughts. Hopefully the double entendre isn’t imagined or brought into being by the lens of my circumstances! :o) Thank you for sharing. I, for one, am richer for it.

    • benleney says:

      I’m really pleased that you like it so much, Leah – sorry I hadn’t gotten round to responding properly earlier. I wrote it after reading Karl Barth’s short book on Romans, and a couple of the lines are inspired by it, I think the title ‘Flaming Sword’ and the thought in one of the stanzas of a more ‘lucid dimension’. And when I say I’m working on other things, that’s kind of on the back-burner, bubbling away. I must be bold enough to put something more recent out there. Give my regards to Andy and I’m sure that being a Mom is suiting you just fine. It’s a very Kingdom, very Christ-like way to live.

  2. leahfrance says:

    P.S. You did write this, didn’t you? Ha!!!

  3. cowleyarts says:

    Hi Ben
    Thanks for your geneorous comments on my poems.
    I keep reading your ‘A Poem’ I am wondering if the title is interim and maybe you are searching for the actual title? If so, then I am not surprised. Each time I read it then I find more embedded there; it is wonderfully expressive and deep,if I am allowed to use that word when another describing the heights, may be found.

    I love the way you have symbolized that moment when you find yourself, in the ‘Spirit’ and experience a seperation from the present wordly way of things.

    The verse that begins:

    ‘I am losing sight of the beginnings
    That have lost their way before midday’

    is particularly powerful with righteous resignation.

    Speak to you soon

    • benleney says:

      John, I need to do your work more justice shortly. Funny you should mention the title: I agree that I need a more lasting reference for the poem. Something to work on there. I wrote this a little while ago – about time I took up the pen again and wrestled with it. Thank you for your appreciation of it!

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