Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Reflections on Time......

Just a poem that I happened to read last evening. A welcome oasis of calm in the middle of a hectic week.

I find this a disturbing poem but also faintly reassuring with a deep beauty in it's celebration of life and death.

Enjoy and have a blameless week nice people...

Brian Patten made his name in the 1960s as one of the Liverpool Poets, alongside Adrian Henri and Roger McGough. Their main aim was to make poetry immediate and accessible for their audience, and their joint anthology, The Mersey Sound (1967), has been credited as the most significant anthology of the twentieth century for its success in bringing poetry to new audiences.

He was born in 1946 in Liverpool, and grew up in the docklands. He left school at fifteen, becoming a junior reporter on The Bootle Times, with responsibility for writing the popular music column.

His work came fully to public attention with the publication of Little Johnny's Confession in 1967, when he was twenty-one years old. Since then he has written numerous adult poetry collections, which includes some of his most striking poems, focusing on the death of his mother and his memories of childhood. Brian is also well-known for his best-selling poetry collections for children, most famously Gargling with Jelly.

He now divides his time between living in London and Devon and has been honoured with the Freedom of the City of Liverpool. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of both Liverpool University and John Moores University.

So Many Different Lengths Of Time

By Brian Patten

How long does a man live after all?
A thousand days or only one?
One week or a few centuries?
How long does a man spend living or dying
and what do we mean when we say gone forever?

Adrift in such preoccupations, we seek clarification.
We can go to the philosophers
but they will weary of our questions.
We can go to the priests and rabbis
but they might be busy with administrations.

So, how long does a man live after all?
And how much does he live while he lives?
We fret and ask so many questions -
then when it comes to us
the answer is so simple after all.

A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us,
for as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams,
for as long as we ourselves live,
holding memories in common,
a man lives.

His lover will carry his man's scent, his touch:
his children will carry the weight of his love.
One friend will carry his arguements,
another will hum his favourite tunes,
another will still share his terrors.

And the days will pass with baffled faces,
then the weeks,
then the months,
then there will be a day when no question is asked,
and the knots of grief will loosen in the stomach
and the puffed faces will calm.
And on that day he will not have ceased
but will have ceased to be separated by death.

How long does a man live after all?
A man lives so may different lengths of time.


  1. Brief Encounter is one of my all time favorite movies. Maybe even my favorite. I've watched it dozens of times and can never see it enough. So, I guess you can safely say I adore your new header.

  2. I adore the new header too and I like that poem. Life is not about trying to make it, it is about making. Relish in the moments, those are the times that truly tell how long we will live and have lived.

  3. Very nice. Thank you for sharing that. It is quite thought provoking.

  4. Hello Michael,

    Add me to the header admiration club! I wasn't too sure of the poem in the earlier verses but enjoyed it in the end.

  5. "So, how long does a man live after all?
    And how much does he live while he lives?

    Thank you, it reminds us that we have much more than we realise.

  6. "His lover will carry his man's scent, his touch:
    his children will carry the weight of his love."

    He is lucky then, this man who lives!