Ian Stewart Black

Modern master of classical poetry


No safer refuge has a lonesome traveller than the night,
Nor nobler company than kindred sorrows of the moon.
For all my melancholy years, the dark has wept with me
In solitude; a thousand shadows with my heart commune
In wordless poetry, lamenting in our common plight.

From nebulous gloom, swirling vapours yield a silhouette
Akin to no familiar form; apostles of the dusk
Emerge from in their native shadow veiled in silken night,
Emancipated from the searing daylight’s gaudy husk
And cast in peerless truth as only darkness can beget.

To walk the world by moonlight is a sacrament; to breathe
The hallowed silver air is to immerse oneself in grace.
And seldom is a vision so sublime as that of dusk,
When countless vanities that constitute the commonplace
Subside beneath the mystic paths that stars and moonbeams weave.

When all chaotic voices still, a primal serenade
Of whispers emanates from shadowed regions of the world;
A dusky magic sinks into the earth, and floral bells
Of regal amethyst resplendent in the gloom unfurl,
Enticing from the heart of nightfall’s own celestial glade.

The forest floor is paved with moonlight: streams of spectral white
Converging in the heart of darkness bear a solemn bond
To all who wander aimless and alone throughout this life;
Nocturnal claims you as her own beneath these raven boughs,
Her love will bring you peace amid the purity of night.

Modern Life In The Western World

The mournful lustre of a dying sun
Alights on charcoal silhouettes of bent
And faceless mockeries of man: in one
Amalgam rising from the bleak cement.

The sons and daughters of the city feast
Upon each other, knowing only love
As ceremonious recital pieced
Together in oppressive spires above.

Indoctrinated by legality
Which hears no question as it answers all:
Eschewing virtues of morality
Beyond the summit of a master’s thrall.

Our worth is wrought upon complicity
With ignorance and bloodshed, yielding no
Admission of our own toxicity;
But in the quiet of the night, we know.

Has no one left the will to speak aloud
And rail against the mass insanity;
Is there no better angel still unbowed?
The sun is setting on humanity.


A kiss before you break my heart: how time
Has worn upon the summit of my dreams;
The fading echoes of seraphic chimes,
And fallen snow adrift in summer streams.
The sun and moon and stars are listless dregs
In spiritless lament of days gone by;
A cold and colourless horizon begs
To reawaken in your emerald eyes.
But if these moments are to be our last,
And I must face the loss of everything,
Before the endless winter comes to pass,
Allow me one idyllic touch of spring;
Thus with an act of love from love depart:
A final kiss before you break my heart.


Among the cattle,
My naked feet are rooted
In the long, wet grass.


A lonesome raindrop
From the clouds into the sea;
All things are falling.


A maelstrom rages at the centre of my being,
And the mausoleums of the vanquished quake;
The reign of chaos sends my better angels fleeing
As forgotten devils in their tombs awake.
Some hellish sorcery avails, the seal is broken:
There is nothing left to stem the dreaded flood;
Whatever I once was, I now retain no token:
Doubtless, all is lost amid the tide of blood.
The Sorrow whispers to the wounded, its seduction
Apt to still the voice of any who decry;
My own relentless soul assents to self-destruction,
And the world hears nothing but a midnight sigh.

My dearest allies fall from favour, some delusion
Preys upon the virtues nature made my own;
A spectral vestige left to wither in seclusion,
I descend into adversity alone.
As pain and beauty pass beyond distinction, whether
By a mind’s emancipation or decline,
No longer may I claim the strength of will to tether
Thrashing horrors none would recognise as mine.
Upon a vacant throne there sits a crown surrendered,
Thus to exile is a broken king resigned;
Bereft of honour, stripped of sovereignty, and rendered
Low: adrift upon the waters of his mind.

Assailed by cherished hopes of old – the now fragmented
Flourishes of bitter memory that ache
As only all-consuming love – a long lamented
Innocence that life has smothered in its wake.
The gossamer conceit of self descends in splinters,
Raining doubt on all I struggle to appear;
I faded with the warm caress of tears in winter,
Even now I hold you on the windswept pier.
And still I see and feel and taste your hallowed essence;
Still I bask in your resplendence as the dawn;
And still I mourn your loving smile in evanescence;
Still I cry for us – both you and I are gone.

Perhaps too perfectly for truth I yet remember
How your jaded eyes outshone a falling star
The night we buried deep our one remaining ember
In that lonesome corner of the reservoir.
Where memory affects the colours of illusion,
There I labour under frail humanity;
But nothing seems more real to me than this collusion
Of an ailing mind with its insanity.
Depression harbours more of me than my reflection,
Wanders freely through the gardens of my soul,
And casts its shadow on my every recollection,
Daily waging war against my self-control.

Repugnant snarls of savagery are echoed loudly
To the farthest reaches of the battlefield,
To call upon the one whose scars are carried proudly
In defiance of the foe that bid him kneel.
The Samurai will meet his own annihilation
With a headlong surge into the hands of fate;
And as The Sorrow seeks to bind him in damnation,
Still he quickens: retribution cannot wait.
And so he charges into battle unencumbered
By dismay, for there is honour in his plight;
Whatever comes to pass, we all shall one day slumber
In the shade of leaves – until that day, we fight.

Alas, we forge our futures in the fire of anguish,
Better knowing who we are in times of peace;
And in such horrid days as these, if we should languish,
This eclipse of all we love shall never cease.
Therefore we take up arms to prove ourselves defiant
When the soundness of our strength is most unsure;
Upon resolve alone is destiny reliant:
Though perdition burns within us, we endure.
Although our lives are given to the whims of madness,
I will not believe we suffer it in vain;
In rising from the depths of such abysmal sadness,
We are stronger for the measure of our pain.

Beautiful Night

Autumnal leaves of sycamore,
Perhaps the pinnacle of nature,
Meekly strewn in perfect disarray
To gild a world of great indifference;
Yearly trampled underfoot,
A marker of the tide.

Dim beneath the royal starlight
Strained through drifting wisps of cloud;
The rain surmounts the fallen leaves,
And solemn city streets uphold
A mirror to the heavens.

All is still, and all is silent,
Save for the interminable ebb
Of a young man growing old;
The royal starlight only serves
To light the long road home.


I look at you and know that poetry
will not avail; the art is nothing more
than vulgar words in weathered verse, unfit
to replicate your sacred energy.

What tongue could hold the fundamental truth
of my desire: the soundless, shapeless ache
of yearning to exhale my meagre soul,
and permeate the Eden of your flesh.

And is there yet, in all the countless songs
of sorrow, lamentation apt to bear
the quiet dignity and slow decay
of unrepenting, unrequited love.

My words are blood upon your altar, each
A shadow of the inexpressible.

In The Silver Autumn Night

Fallen leaves of Autumn glimmer
In the opalescent light;
Untrodden ways grow dimmer,
Wreathed in silken mists that shimmer
In the silver Autumn night.

The crystal lake is gleaming
In the opalescent light;
And the water, softly dreaming,
Conjures stars and moonbeams streaming
In the silver Autumn night.

Mirror to a grace undying
In the opalescent light;
With the ancient stillness vying,
A lonesome cello sighing
In the silver Autumn night.


By day, the soaring symphony
Is song unto the whole;
By night, a lonesome requiem
To my afflicted soul.

Although I strive, I strive in vain
To wrest my spirit free;
The demon that delights in pain
Is shadow of my glee.

By lightning struck and tempest tossed
Until I knew not where;
The better part of me is lost
To laughter and despair.


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