David Ian Raitt’s poems

There is not yet much about me on this website. I was born in 1944 at Folly Farm, Sulhamstead Abbots. After leaving college I worked at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough and then moved to Paris in 1969 to work for the European Space Research Organization, which later became the European Space Agency. I retired from ESA at the end of 2009. My poetry writing days were mainly in my university days, then later in Frascati, Italy, mainly between 1974-1979. I always enjoyed the poetry of W. B. Yeats (had to study him at school) and in later life I enjoy the subtlety of haiku and 8th century Japanese poetry. Not all my poems below have titles.



The Cobweb


It hangs

In the green of the gorse, there, sparkling bright

The delicate home of the spider so slight.

The silvery threads all weaved from one strand

I reach in the gorse to touch with my hand

This intricate web so wonderfully planned.


It sways

In the green of the gorse, there, stirred by the breeze

Which ripples its way through the leaves on the trees

And the shimmering dew drops glint in the sun

As I peer in the gorse for the one who’s begun

This intricate web so wonderfully spun.


*******


The Aces


The sun was hanging in pale blue sky,

And far below a tiny speck,

Of green and yellow, painted, mottled,

Winging westwards, engine throttled,

Was watched by red and silver wings on high,

Waiting to dart from out that blazing eye,

To watch the flaming cartwheel spin.

Alone, in empty blue to sigh

To know one day his foe would win

The sun would hang in clear blue sky

And far below a burnt-out wreck.


*******


When the lightness fades

With the darkness shades,

When the voices cease

And there’s nothing but peace,

That’s when I look around to see

Who else is there besides just me,

And I always find - at least in my mind –

That you are there.


*******


Once before I met

If not your twin, your nearest kin

Tall and slim and fresh and fair

Who made me stare

And regret that bitter dream

In which she looked into my face

With shining eyes and cheeks aflame

Like scarlet poppies in a field

Of golden sunswept corn.

And I remember, oh, how well I remember

The tireless way in which she walked

Her dimples deepening as she talked.

Her soft lips parting as she smiled

And the lilting inflections of her voice

Hesitant, like her touch, I longed so much

To feel again upon my arm

As we wandered slowly down the snowy road,

Knowing it was just a dream

A golden dream, a rainbow’s end

A moment in time to which I’d cling

And later cherish, and want, and pretend

We’d really met and laughed and shared

Some fleeting time.

And then we met, I and you

A dream come true.

But not for me.  


*******


           In a recondite corner of my mind


Unable to sleep the other night

I strolled around my mind

And found a door I did not know

And wondered what lay behind.


Upon my touch the door flew wide

I stood there in a daze

For just within I glimpsed the paths

Of a wondrous rambling maze.


I chose a road and off I set

To see what I could find

Along the untrod tracks of thought

That lay within my mind.


Ahead, I saw a fleeting form

With long hair to her waist

So sweet she looked that following on

I made my way in haste.


Down winding paths she led me on

Her tresses flowing free

And when I stopped to look around

She, smiling, beckoned me.


I passed a spot where music played

Enchanting, soft and sad

Where sweetly lilting voices sang

And me to turn back bade.


But I could not give up the chase

By love now was I blind

And so I hurried deeper still

Into my unknown mind.


I saw such things no eyes have seen

With my enchantress there

Always, smiling, out of reach

I knew her by her hair.


She led me to a grassy dell

And holding out my hand

I sought to reach and hold her close

Yet stopped at her command.


But waiting was beyond me now

And I kissed her lovely face

And like a bursting bubble then

She vanished without trace.


I searched for her down many a path

Going further in my brain

But no red tresses did I see

Nor would I see again.


I rested in a leafy glade

And drowsy did become

Beside a little tinkling brook

That sparkled in the sun.


At length I rose and sought to leave

But how, with paths unsigned?

And so I wander every night, lost

In a recondite corner of my mind.


*******


Reflections from a broken mirror


He had a nice voice

When he sang,

A background voice, but then

He was that kind of man -

A background man,

Reliable, athletic, competent

But an average man; one

Who was good at many things

And yet excelled at none,

A man who dreamed

Of people, places, other worlds

In which he caught the glimpse

Of other lives which seemed

More exciting than his own.


A solitary man, introspective, quiet,

Definitely not

A conversationalist, although

Charming and witty when occasion called.

A man who climbed mountains in his mind,

A vehement man who could be kind

And gentle and full of love.

Loyal, intense and sensitive

He was a man of many parts

Who liked to think he

Needed nobody and yet who drew

Comfort from a friendly few.


A man who preferred to see

But not be seen

To hear but not be heard.

As I have said a background man

Except when rising to some bait

As he so often would

His honesty, principles to defend.

But for all his passion

An easy going man

And butt of jokes that seemed in fashion.


One who could be strangely stirred

By a line or two of written word

Or by a lilting sad refrain

That touched his fey and unknown soul.

A man who had known pain

As well as joys and sorrows;

For whom tomorrow never came

Since all days were tomorrows

And all nights yesterdays -

Times gone by to which he'd cling

And turned to live again


A man who hoped for everything

And yet expected nothing

For whom disappointment

Came as no surprise

For whom importance

Grew less as time passed by

Who thought that nothing really mattered

Except the fact of being oneself,

Happy or sad, melancholy or glad.

A man whose passing would bring relief

Rather than a sense of grief

For those who knew him well.


*******


Though I am old, I do not forget

The flecks of gold glinting in her fragrant hair

Caught by the fading light

While soft shadows drew close

Around her still softer form;

The lambent lustre of her eyes

Gently brilliant in the growing dusk

The tremulous trembling of her lips

As we said our last goodbyes;

These things stir me yet,

Though I am old.


*******


When the mind can take no more

And the heart is pressed so sore

Then it's time to slip away

To a place where there's no day

Where the quiet still of night

Softly robs me of my sight

And the fragrance of the flowers

Lingers on across the hours

Which lengthen into nothingess....


*******


Her only friend, an ageing shade,

Legacy of a dying sun,

Stood with her in his constant way,

There since daybreak had begun.

Her thoughts afar, on happy times

Back there way in the past;

An anguished searching of her soul

For why it did not last.


As melting drops of crystal crept

A-glistening down her cheek,

Made warmer by the dying rays

That caressed her as she wept,

Her loyal companion took his leave,

Abruptly departing unannounced

Fading into the gathering gloom

As softly as he’d come.


Alone and lonely, lost and forlorn, she stood

A liquid sadness in her eyes,

Till Darkness wrapped her in his arms

And sought to soothe her sighs.

“Hush, my child”, she heard him breathe

“The present’s no place for you

Live in the future and the past

Like the stars beyond the blue.”


*******


The Earth may have its carpet

Of green and brown and mauve

But I’d rather have the heaven’s drape

Of blue and silver wove.


The Earth is though a wondrous place

With mountains, moors and streams,

But I’d rather have the heaven’s gifts

Of star dust and moon beams.


My heart yearns when I gaze above

And see sun-glinting wings

Free, flying to some farway place

To that my soul it clings.


I see the expanse of clear blue sky

Empty, save few clouds

And wish my soul was high up there

Away from maddening crowds.

I existed when a world was mold

From filmy gases growing cold.

When stars were young and in their prime

I too was there through endless time.


And when suns began to glow

Imparting light and warmth below

I watched the swirling mists wreathe high

As marshy swamps began to dry.


There I to see the coming morn

While layered clouds began to form

And when at last the long days died

Did Night and I together ride.


A fleeting transience past my way

Life it called itself – I bade it stay

And for a while the world we shared

And for each other only cared.


I suffered much when life was there

Emotions, feelings, pain, love, care

But I was richer for having known

Things I could not have on my own.


The all to soon my Life was gone

Leaving me to face alone

The indeterminate depths of endless space

Forever drifting through Time’s race.


I existed when a world was mold

From filmy gases growing cold

And when, if ever, this world should die

So there existing still will be I.


*******


I would like

to be

infinitely

calm

and quiet,

with

you

beside me.

There.

For ever.

Comforting,

smiling.

soft

gentle

as always.

Without you

I am

nothing

I count for

nothing

I am

like

the sea

which needs

the shore

or

like the tree

which needs

the earth.

You are my earth.

my shore

You are

all that I

look for

all that I

wish for

I love you.


*******


A Parting Poem


…… and I will leave. But the birds will stay, singing:

and the garden will stay, with its green trees

and hanging vines.


On many afternoons the skies will be blue and placid

and the sun will shine as it is shining this very afternoon.


The people who have known me will go their way

and a new face will take the place of mine, which will

fade into forgetfulness with the passing of the time.


Life will burst anew each day and include of me no part.

But my spirit will always wander nostalgic

in the same recondite corners of my office and flowery garden.


(Based on lines by Juan Ramon Jiminez and written when I left the office in Frascati, Italy to move to The Netherlands in 1979. The one below was written at the same time)


*******


Nobody cares when you’ve gone


The sad thing about these days

Is that no-one will care when you’ve gone.

They’ll find the occasional letter

With your name neatly signed down below,

But do you think that they’ll stop to wonder

Who you were, where you went? – I think no!


If only one person would care

And think of you now and again

As you’ll think of them, what they’re doing and where

(If only a little their life you could share)

That’s the sad thing today, for when you go away

Nobody knows that you’re gone……


*******


The Onset of Technology

(written in 1970)


The old man sat in his chair and rocked to and fro. He was ninety-four and hadn't spoken to his wife for years. It wasn't as if he'd lost his teeth or that his tired brain was befuddled, but it was more that he'd forgotten how to talk. Of course, the fact that his wife didn't talk to him didn't help much either, but then no-one else talked to her - her children, her neighbours, her friends. In fact no-one talked to anyone anymore and many people, like the old man, had forgotten how to. Not that it really mattered not being able to speak, because they couldn't hear very well either. They could all write, mind you, flowing, cursive scripts, and they could all watch television. But they couldn't hear what was said and anyway the actors on the screen couldn't talk, so that didn't matter either. Even newborn babies screamed silently - a trait inherited from their parents and grandparents. There were birds singing silent songs, cows mooing silent moos and dogs silently barking. But everyone was used to it and it had gone on for years.


"I remember when it all started", the old man mused. "All this modern technology it was. Aeroplanes flying overhead, first one a year, then one a day, next one every four seconds, and now ten supersonic jets a second. More supersonic cars on the roads belching out noxious fumes from chicken droppings, super grand-standing buildings going up everywhere, new extra super equipment being made to develop louder and noisier processes. Well, not that it matters now, the noise doesn't disturb us anymore because we can't hear it”. Because no-one could hear, no-one bothered to talk and so, as already said, they used to write and they filled up reams of paper and blackboards, they scratched messages on walls, made signs in the dusty roads, carved chunks out of grassy fields until there was so much muck and pollution that they decided they'd better stop writing altogether.

Sign language was soon developed which became really advanced, but everyone soon had huge muscular hands - even newly born babies now cried in sign language. (Those birds and cows who still tried to sing or moo silently developed huge muscular necks instead). So next they tried to make signs with their eyes and by winks (often misinterpreted!) and blinks and screwings-up they could communicate after a fashion.


So winking madly they all watched equally madly winking actors on televisions and laughed to see madly winking birds and cows with muscular necks still making silent noises. However, with so much exercise and use, their eyesight gradually failed. Not that this really mattered because the hypersonic helicopters flew on with their automatic pilots and "look no hands" landing and take-off systems and the super-streamlined cars zoomed in and out of traffic on little automatic guide rails and numerically controlled cranes lifted ultra super, made-in-Hong Kong, pre-cut buildings into place where louder and noisier processes could be further developed.....