7 MARCH 1992, Page 30

The Poet, Trying to Surprise God

The poet, trying to surprise his God composed new forms from secret harmonies, tore from his fiery vision galaxies of unrelated shapes, both even & odd.

But God just smiled, and gave His know-all nod saying, 'There's no surprising One who sees the acorn, root, and branch of centuries — I swallow all things up, like Aaron's rod. So hold this thought beneath your poet-bonnet: no matter how free-seeming flows your sample God is by definition the Unsurprised.'

'Then I'll return', the poet sighed, 'to sonnets, of which this is a rather pale example.'

Is that right?' said God. 'I hadn't realised. . . '

Peter Meinke