a poem for National Poetry day, 2021
Long ago, when I was just a boy,
my life was organised and planned,
ambitions set with heart so full of joy,
my ship set sail, full-rigged and manned
But then the world around did other things –
it intervened in aspects of my life –
brought down my sails and clipped my flapping wings
with unexpected turns and causing strife.
Youth’s lovely random lovers came and went –
as one came half way round the world it whimmed –
and, to me, lifelong friends were sometimes sent
‘By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed.’
When Adulthood arrived my ship was manned
with chance encounters governing my fate.
Along came people, whom I had not planned,
brought opportunities for love or hate.
And then, as much as one might organise,
cunning Serendipity had her way
when many random factors filled my skies
and often dominated every day.
How selected, if we did, to marry,
the vacancies to which we made the grade,
and the house in which we chose to tarry,
were symbols with which we were paid.
And then a brand new car came with the post –
seen a random advert in the paper –
which was the very one I wanted most
soon turned out a very complex caper.
Was this occurrence chance or was it fate?
Some higher plan that predetermined life.
But who was bothered to arrange my fate
command what job I had or who my wife?
Predicted outcome is for us to muse –
the many consequences of our choice.
Are we so really free to pick and choose?
Does Fate desire to parley with our voice?
We much prefer to think that many things
do not just strangely happen in our lives,
that we are in control of what life brings,
free to select our house, our jobs, our wives.
Why did the highest jackpot land on us?
Why did we loose that very prize to Strife?
Why all the bad commotion and the fuss?
Did we select the lottery of life?
Does life just happen? Very loud we shout,
in ever-changing currents of our ride,
but what when living’s time is running out –
are we then floating on the final tide?
But what if Chance has other things in store
and circumstances take a different course?
What if the wheel of fortune turns some more –
opened another door – that of remorse?
What if I never moved away from home?
What if I never chose to take a wife?
What if I made the choice to widely roam
and gave away security of life?
And if I now decide to move away,
to chase a new life there or here to stay,
would such as these intended outcomes sway
the predicated future? Hard to say.
If we blew out the candles on the cake
and made a wish to have some other fate
would it be such a terrible mistake
and would it be too early or too late?
Would sterner strength of will and planner’s aim
deliver more success than failure can?
But does that confer on us much more gain?
A better outcome when it all began.
How can we say that certain things can wait
or many great developments delayed?
When all we are is fanned by gales of Fate
and pirates have our little ship waylaid.
My captain on his bridge, so resolute,
planning a course to his desired port,
his ship sails boldly on its outward route
ignoring storms in which he might be caught.
So often Life does not kowtow to Plan
whose condescending fancies variate
to vacillate the confused world of Man
in vicious turbulence of love and hate.
Chance rules our being, cradle to the grave,
and throws us screaming in the wavy sea
when Fate determines all that life can have –
is this the way that everything must be?
But Fate. we know, can come out either way,
sometimes against us, even sometimes good,
how living’s dice will roll we cannot say.
All we can postulate is how they should.
7th October 2021
Despite having worked on this piece for a few weeks now, it is still not’ finished.’ Consider the above to be work in progress. I will, I am sure, polish it up and smooth off the rough edges in the fullness of time.