Descending – poetry by Jay Ramsey


Culbone, 21.10.16


A gust of wind brings
two sweet chestnuts down,
in their diving bells of prickly green

some acorns too, shoe-brown

I pick up the one I can see,
others clatter into the valley…

The leaves are turning, yellow and green
the bracken yellow and brown

Then another behind me—
the wind is a sea

The fruit is on the ground.

The lime-green lichen sponge surreal
a child has made a face on with stones…

small cliffs of it line the bank, then holly, gorse
seedlings as if of everything—all so fertile green

and these closely planted trees forever falling away down steep,
letting go.

To come again here for the healing
like the jagged-edged leaves, falling
ripe to catch if you can—

(you reach behind your head, and miss one)

The boundary fence plank high above the sea
in its swell beneath

at the bottom of the slope

its seething undertow…

And still the chestnuts, beech nuts, falling:

in a crescendo like rain as you see the tiny church spire below.


In the church, under the private pew
reaching deep into the ground…

Silence, such deep silence
healing to the depth of a drop of rain

a globe of rain expanding between my eyes

the rain sinking into the ground
and the leaves falling. Silence.

The flickering mauve tea-light
in the leper’s window

its frame, you say, shaped like an angel.
Had I noticed ?


The sound, the stream, the birds.

Feel this peace everywhere,
lying on your bed at home,
sitting in the green chair
……………………………………… the message.

This Timeless Moment of the place we enter and re-enter,
that it never leaves—only as we do, climbing
as the twilight descends

And up above on the Lovelace seat
where a whirring of wings lands just above your head…

and darkness closes the book.


Jay Ramsay, who co-founded Angels of Fire in London in 1983 with its Festivals of New Poetry, is the author of 30 + books of poetry, non-fiction, and classic Chinese translation (with Martin Palmer) including Psychic Poetry—a manifesto, The White PoemAlchemy, Crucible of Love–the alchemy of passionate relationships, Tao Te Ching, I Ching—the shamanic oracle of change, Shu Jing—the Book of History, The Poet in You (his correspondence course, since 1990), Kingdom of the Edge—Selected Poems 1980-1998, Out of Time—1998-2008, Places of Truth, Monuments, and Agistri Notebook (both 2014). In 2012 he recorded his poetry-music album, Strange Sun. In addition, he’s edited 6 anthologies of New Poetry—most recently Diamond Cutters—Visionary Poets in America, Britain & Oceania (with Andrew Harvey:, as well as many collections for other poets, also under his own pamphlet imprint Chrysalis Poetry. He’s also poetry editor of Caduceus magazine, working in private practice as a UKCP accredited psychotherapist and healer, and running workshops worldwide (

1 Comment

  1. Dear Jay passed away on 30th December 2018, and I found out today (31st). I am immensely saddened. It was a privilege to know him and to publish some of his uniquely insightful and lyrical work. I selected this poem because I felt it chimed with the theme of year’s end, but now of course it has wider and far more moving resonance. It is an honour to have published it. – Sarah.


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