Tag Archives: poem

Pilgrimage by Jay Ramsay

9781906900540.jpgThis Friday 20 April we’re publishing a major new work by Jay Ramsay, to coincide with his 60th birthday. It’s called Pilgrimage – a journey to Love Island. The Love Island in question is Scotland’s sacred isle, Iona, so the new book will be big brother to Mary Palmer’s Iona (Awen, 2008).

Jay will be reading from the book at Hawkwood College, Stroud, on 20 April as part of an event with Andrew Harvey on the theme of sacred activism (8 p.m., £12/£9).

The FREE LAUNCH PARTY for Pilgrimage is on Wednesday 25 April at Black Book Cafe, Stroud GL5 2HL (7.30 for 8 p.m.) and includes poetry by Steve Morris, Polly Howell, and Gabriel Millar and music from the Day Jobs. Everyone is welcome!

Pilgrimage is available to order from the Awen website. Here’s some info about the book from the back cover:

In the summer of 1990 Jay Ramsay set out on pilgrimage with an interfaith group from London to Iona. The result is his most ambitious book-length poem, an astonishing tour de force in the tradition of Wordsworth and Chaucer. Epiphanic, conversational, meditational, psychological, political, it divines ‘the cross’ of spiritual and ecological being in Britain’s radical tradition, as symbolised by Iona as the crown of the Celtic church and the direction that Christianity lost.

Constructed as a series of 25 ‘days’, the narrative builds symphonically like waves of the sea up to its visionary climax. Full of stories, reflections, memories, and images, Pilgrimage is above all a love poem, an invitation into the greater love that is our true becoming where we can find the God most personal to all of us – alive in the heart of Life.

Pilgrimage is an important outpouring from one of Britain’s leading poets wrestling with the Christ story, the human story, and the story of where we need to go as a species. Travelling with Jay is never anything less than a journey into the past, with adventures in the present, and visions of hope for the future.’ Martin Palmer

‘It is strange and beautiful how everything he passes comes into colour, into focus – is born. And I ran along after him and listened as he changed the colour of the sea and broke down doors.’ Peter Owen Jones




Poem: Migratory Roots

By Robin Collins



this great mnemonic,

land of the English, Celt and flint knappers of another age.

The seas wrap around her cliffs,

never letting the kingdom sleep,

haunting her people

with the foam capped thud of waves,

telling us to remember, remember.

The seas carried our distant ancestors,

unrecorded faces and names,

making the way across,

that ancient pollination of migration.


Britain in the becoming,

the great life stream of cultures.

Without the crossing over,

this island would be unnamed;

for all the towns and rivers

we speak were names

on a tongue that came

over the waves.

This is who we have,

swirling in the coda of our blood:


The sea reminds us we all go back

to some long forgotten family in a boat,

making the journey to stay,

to home make.

This island in the midst of moving peoples.

Irresistible Resistance

By Robin Collins


Let our resistance

be an irresistible,

bringing together

of the Stars and the Earth in our lives.


Let our resistance

be insistence on beauty and wonder,

let us be beyond

the deadening repetition of machines.


In all ways

we are evolving towards

the spiralling of creation.


Spirals in the resistance

will take us like starlings,

murmuring through

the shattering pieces

of where

we have come to,

arrived for the first time

in the middle of ourselves.


Spinning in the

time we create,

let our resistance,

weave worlds into our words,

adorn our paths,

through day and night,

with friendship,


Let this be our resistance,

sound as a well built house,

we can stand,

and belong in the place we are now,





and frost.


We become,


in our resistance,

to the webbing

of life’s fullness.


Of all we

lock away

now the walls and chains

are blown away.



we have found

child’s play,

is irresistible in our resistance.


For Brendan Cox – a poem

Written on William Blake’s birthday, 28 November, by Jay Ramsay.

The Metro, 24.11.16

We have nothing…the folded headline begins

until you open it out but pity

having lost the love of your life, your wife,

in the most brutal way imagineable

you stand as so few men could, or can,

and forgive.


Look at his eyes and goatee beard:

there’s no one there. Look at yours

and there’s presence, warm as your soul, strong;

there is I and all you stand in

that stands in you.


Goatee Satan and The Man,

and she is a living sacrifice

in realms we cannot understand

without him. She’s Magdalene-alive,

crucified by our ignorance

by the hate that can only divide—


and out of the wound pours love.

How can we sanction it ?

Cuchulain fights the sea, and fails.

How can we see the plan ?


There is a higher order in everything,

that’s how the light gets in

beyond our reckoning


but not our life as it fills

with its all-seeing eye that is

this I in you, Brendan.


The eyes of everyone else in the picture

around your oasis of family

lost as if in a dream—the policemen, the priest’s

in the flashlight and the motordrive,

but not you and yours. It is extraordinary.


You stand and you have everything

and we have, because of you.

No moral high ground or platitude

but a universe of love—


gathering towards its invisible crest like a wave

flooding all reason, all rationale


that a man can stand like this

and forever, and now, and again.
Jay Ramsay
28 Nov. 2016

(William Blake’s birthday)

For Jeremy

A blog post from Jay Ramsay

It was the experimental poet Allen Fisher, back in 1983 at an Angels of Fire London Festival gig, who first introduced me to the phrase ‘post-experiential innocence’ and I’ve remembered it ever since (evidently!). With all the hopeless sheenanigans of Trump (here alluded to) and general political egotism, Corbyn is outstanding because he is what he says, and says what he means … I also wrote this as one in the eye for the right-wing media that seem determine to run him down – and are failing miserably!

Photo credit: Chris Beckett, available under a Flickr Creative Commons Licence. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode)
Photo credit: Chris Beckett, available under a Flickr Creative Commons Licence. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode)




Labour is blossoming or dancing where

The body is not bruised to pleasure soul,

Nor beauty born out of its own despair

Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.

W.B. Yeats, ‘Among School Children’



There must be another way, he’s saying

and there is: only the man grown child is wise

as the ancient Chinese Taoists knew

and the triumphal trumping ego will never—

so here he is on the 6pm News, among school children

playing djembe as if for the first time

tentatively with his fingertips

sing-saying Harmony as the kids join in,

the word so lightly engraved on their T shirts

that is the truth from spirit

of a radical innocence, transmitted—

through these beings of the future, if there is to be,

if there is another way, which only the heart knows:

that after experience, innocence returns

and is a new day as far as the eyes can see.


Jay Ramsay

27 September 2016, first published in the International Times, 13 October 2016