memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Posts tagged ‘William Blake’

East of Eden

And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years and begat a son in his own likeness and called him Seth:

And Seth lived a hundred and five years and begat Enos:

And Enos lived ninety years and begat Ca-i’nan:

And Ca-i’nan lived seventy years, and begat Mahal’aleel:

And Mahal’aleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared:

And Jared lived a hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch:

And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methu’selah:

And Methu’selah lived a hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech:

And Lamech lived a hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son, Noah:

And Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.


But all this was long long ago

about seven billion people

and seven hundred thousand years ago

East of Eden

It Beggars Belief

A bowl of soup, a glass of wine

And thou beside me,

Ranting in the wilderness.

All the teachings of the Inspired Scriptures

Are dwarfed by the immensity

Of the star-crossed cosmos.

Pascal’s wager need not apply.

Our vile bodies are consumed by fire

Urns of ashes towards sundown.

We therefore commit his body to the deep

In the certain hope that the sea will

Render him up on the Day of Judgment.

No sudden Epiphany brought me to this point,

Only the calm acceptance

That it beggars belief.

It beggars belief that we are all born

With the in-built virus of corruption,

Weighed down by some primordial guilt.

It beggars belief that our world,

Our wondrous awful world

Should blight our brief lives.

As flies to wanton boys

So are we to the gods;

They kill us for their sport.



And death shall have no dominion (2)

Living in an old people’s home, as I do and being still relatively young (still in my 60´s), I have strong intimations of mortality.

Regularly, at a rate of about six or seven a year, one of my old colleagues will clock off, sometimes at the hospital and sometimes here at the Home, usually in the small hours of the morning. During their last few days I guess, weakened by pain and discomfort and lulled by various opiates, they hardly speak. That’s one of the first things they abandon – language leaves them, (they’re too busy dying). Do they know that they’re dying? (Everyone else does).

In general they do go gentle into that dark night and the next day the old people will sigh fatalistically: oh well, that’s life they’ll muse philosophically – a uniquely inaccurate observation by the way. I mean it’s not life is it? It is the converse of life. It is death.

What will happen to me? As far as I’m concerned I’m the only being in the universe who can think and speak in the first person – everyone else is second or third person.

Does one spend eternity lolling about in the Elysium Fields, basking in the warmth of God’s goodness and listening to his musings consider the lilies of the field, they do not sew neither do they spin.

Or, rather more attractively in my opinion, does one inhabit a Korana paradise where one is served up delicious meals, (tenderly cooked lamb nestling in a soft bed of lightly-spiced yellow rice), waited on by a succession of beautiful young maidens with lustrous eyes.

I read somewhere about a remote island in the South Seas, cut off from the rest of the world, whose people speak a sub-variant of the Polynesian group of languages with a tiny vocabulary of around two hundred useful words, seven of which signify sweet potato – the sweet potato presumably forming their staple diet. Another of their eccentricities is that they all worship Prince Phillip, the consort of our queen Elisabeth. So one assumes that paradise for them will consist of being subjected to a stream of mild racist-driven gaffes muttered by His Royal Highness.

But, more seriously, I hover in a limbo of unknowing, poised between logic and faith, like a gambler uneasily hedging his bets or like Voltaire on his deathbed who, on being asked by the priest to renounce the Devil and all his works, murmured, this no time to be making new enemies.

To sum it all up, oh God (if there is a god) pray for my Soul (if I have a soul).


Thirty years of life

What separates this picture of me leaning against a vehicle adapted to rolling on sand

From this picture of me sitting in a vehicle adapted to rolling on sand.


Thirty years of life

With its comforts & discomforts

With its rewards & failures

With its health & illnesses

With its boredom & excitements

With its betrayals & constancies

With its joys & sorrows



To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.

William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

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