The Ordinary Course of Things


All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea, that spacious wound,
is never full,

just as thirst rarely answers
the simplest star: blue flame
projecting distance, a bell
of darkness, known.

How small the creation!
Hurried through many changes naked,
finally compelled to crawl,
it does not wake,

I wish–I cannot think—
a sort of vague feeling comes over me,
glimpse of lamp burning low—
that I have asked all this before.


The mind is its own place,
a far-off hazy multitudinous assemblage
of bells, and wheels, and flowers
at a high pitch of velocity;
little craters all burning, lava flowing uphill;
gigantic ruins and the strange bright constellations;
shadows of clouds feeding on each other—
a moving curtain of the earth and sky
that has been already in the ages before us—
Was it person? Was it thing?
was it touch or whispering?

It comes without meaning
a knot on a piece of string,
minute in its distinctness,
beautiful in its time,
as it threads the darkness.


When thunder and lightning were first found
to be due to secondary causes,
some regretted to give up the idea
that each flash was caused by
the direct hand of God,
their regal gold-inwoven tatters,
the shadow passed from between us
through the dark Areal Hall,
a double consciousness,
that crooked tree, its roots full of caves
that had grown as the world grew
in the changing light of heaven and of eyes.
Let it glide where it will,
like wings of flaws and holes:
time will do wonders.

Claire Bateman, 2018

Remixed works:

Various writings by Charles Darwin
The works of George Eliot
The Book of Ecclesiastes
Paradise Lost, by John Milton
The Water Babies, by Charles Kingsley