7 MARCH 1992, Page 24

LETTERS Believe it or not

Sir: I read with interest Ludovic Kennedy's Diary (8 February) addressing the fact that, whereas so many people no longer 'believe', they nevertheless require some form of 'service' when, for instance, it comes to burial; and they want to retain the churches.

My answer is to enjoy fairy stories with- out believing them to be true, and I submit this poem entitled 'When' as relevant: When you can segregate your powers of rea-

son From what you feel, and treat the two apart, Rejecting acts of faith as acts of,treason By which the brain surrenders to the heart; When you can tune yourself to not believing And, though you don't believe, pretend you do, And learn to live your life throughout con- ceiving A host of plans and know they won't come true; When you can face the undoubted facts pre- sented That wars, injustice, lies are here to stay, And still devote yourself, no less contented, To doing what you can from day to day; Nothing will then have power to disillusion, Though dreams alone will serve to bring relief; You will have learned the secret of the chil- dren: That playing bears does not require belief.

Ralph Merton

The Old Rectory, Burghfield, Berkshire