Ian Stewart Black

Modern master of classical poetry

Devout In Vain

Grand is the road that leads us to despair –
Inlaid with hope, and strewn with lily-white
Intention; promising an end so fair
That none would deign to heed the dying light.
For all that one could ever hope to find,
Or suffer endless torment just to feel,
At once is known to the enchanted mind
To lie in wait for passion to reveal.
Oblivious to waxen wings undone
In all-devouring faith’s infernal thrall,
And soaring joyful in the midday sun;
How heavenly the flight before the fall.
Perfection beckons us, devout in vain:
Our dearest hopes to yield us only pain.

Solemn Days And Sleepless Nights

The shackles of a lifetime broke upon
Your word, for in the promise of that breath
I saw the light of destiny – a dawn
To stir my soul from in this living death!
You spoke a dream, its essence giving shape
To futures I had never faith to see:
Emboldened by your love, I would escape
From all that festers at the heart of me.
And so I tended to our fledgling hope,
Content to let my boundless passion burn;
Its warmth consoling as I sought to cope
In solitude until my love’s return.
Relentless were the nights, but sorrow’s chill
Was powerless – your word was with me still.

In the midst of your silence, I remained
Forever faithful, trusting all to fate;
That same conspirator I long disdained
Contriving in the shadows as I wait.
Far longer than sincerity decreed,
Believing this the toll that love was owed,
I suffered in your absence, and agreed
To bear the burden that my hope bestowed.
Naively sure that life, which had before
Unwoven my desires at every turn,
Would grant us happiness forevermore,
And all its customary cruelty spurn…
A fool was I to hope, I should have known:
The dream that we conceived was mine alone.

But still the dream survives, its embers burn
Amid the fragments of my heart, and all
That now transpires is mired in taciturn
Affliction – better days beyond recall.
A whisper pleads that I relinquish you,
And trust in foreign roads yet unforeseen:
Such consolations yield no answer to
The faded promise of what might have been.
All that I am is yours, in exile as
In love – and I will wait, as days gone by;
Enduring every lash that sorrow has
To give before I suffer love to die:
Condemned for all my wretched life to rot,
And eulogise a love that you forgot.

Frost On The Ground

So much of me has perished to the storm; I
Tremble in the wake of reckoning, undone
By hope – the only solace is to warm my
Flesh amid the light of an illusive sun.
Unjustly spared the fury of the sea while
Truth and beauty wither in the depths; denied
The peace that I deserve to rot in exile,
Mourning that the better part of me has died.
In all the lives I dreamt for us together,
Nature never seemed so cruel as to beget
A soul consumed in memory – forever
Longing to recapture, trying to forget.

Promise Of Tomorrow

Yearning whispers in the starlight:
All that we might be has haunted
Me in sleepless isolation;
Longing for the magic of night
To entwine us both – undaunted
In the struggle for salvation.
Pitiless, the barbs of daylight
Soon unravel all I’ve wanted,
And I fall to desolation;
Love is bittersweet.

Happiness had fled and hope had
Fallen long before you ever
Burned into my shadow, naming
Sorrow their successor. To adore
As I do now, to sever
Stoicism with a flaming
Vow, and to enliven my sad
Soul amid your beauty – nevermore
Will I despair, proclaiming
Love a fool’s conceit.

Years of bitterness forsaken
Perish in the sweetness of your
Smile, wherein my spirit’s sorrow
Fades, and boundless dreams awaken
To the light of passion’s grandeur.
Only now I cease to borrow
Time: for you, my life has taken
Form – my heart has taken wing – sure
Of the promise of tomorrow;
Love is still replete.

Once incited, such a passion
Blossoms evermore – I vow that
Neither flame nor steel may sunder
What we share, until my ashen
Heart lies cold beneath the ground. At
Your command awaits a thunderous
Desire; for your compassion,
All my reverential words attest
Your peerless grace and wonder.
Love knows no retreat.

Thus I long to know the substance
Of your heart as surely as I
Yearn to feel the touch of your skin;
To decipher you at a glance,
Understanding what desires lie
Hidden in your eyes. That our twin
Souls are bound by fate, or by chance,
Sets aflame my fading light; by
Your angelic kiss defined – in
Love, at last complete.

[This poem was written for someone very important to me; not just about them, but for them – for their eyes only. Its presence here for all to see is a testament to the cruelty of reality, and the frailty of dreams.]

Sublime Dominion

An elegance of soul defines
Your sensual fluidity,
While pleasure’s intimate designs
Deprive you of lucidity;
Your loving innocence imbued
With such erotic appetite
That longs for you to lie subdued
And naked in the candlelight.
Oblivious to time, a slave
To bliss as love and lust entwine;
With every laboured breath, you crave
My touch – to know that you are mine.

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Sorrow’s Own

I never wept at sorrow’s beckoning,
Though heaven knows she claimed me as her own;
Nor shed a tear for passion’s reckoning,
When love betrayed me, and I bled alone.
My gaze persisted when my heart gave out,
Forever fixed upon a distant light;
I fell apart within, endured without,
And only solemn stillness marked my plight;
These eyes belied the pain when hope had gone,
No matter how I mourned the life before;
I never felt that bitter warmth upon
My cheek until I fell for you, and swore:
“For you, I live – and for you, I would die”.
But in return, you taught me how to cry.

Death Of A Butterfly

A taste of some familiar grief –
The heart avails you when the mind is rotten;
For all your joy and your belief,
The world is still a cunt. Had you forgotten?
Thus begin the same reclusive
Nights, and all the sadness you can swallow;
When the first of hope’s illusive
Children fall, the rest are sure to follow.

Ballads Of The Free

Oh proud and noble soul,
How wretched thou art now:
For all thy labours’ toll,
The sweat upon thy brow;
Thy blood adorned the field
Where saints and tyrants fought,
When others sought to yield
To those who honoured naught;
When courage fell to woe,
And sorrows drowned in wine,
The ember still aglow
With righteous wrath was thine;
Thy battle-wearied might
Upheld the lashing sword,
That enemies of right
May reap a just reward;
Unflinching in the hail
Of clashing steel and cries,
For honour to prevail
And order to arise.

And such would be thy fame
If death had claimed thee then,
The last to bear thy name –
To see thy like again;
Oh, were it not that age
Or apathy had worn
The legend from the page
Thy legacy had borne;
Had circumstance instead
Conspired to make of thee
A martyr, ever wed
With ballads of the free;
For death is not so cruel
As living in decay,
A disimpassioned fool
Who bled for yesterday;
Enduring, cold and grim,
To see beyond return
Thy noble spirit dim,
And all thou fought for burn.

An Open Letter

To whom it may concern,

Unwarranted assaults on common sense and decency do not endear your vitriolic slurs to anyone, nor fault a liberal perspective citing more than fear; and while at times I revel in profanity as anyone is wont to do, it seems a strange foundation for a treatise on humanity, while coupled with a verve that borders on deranged. It’s not for me to question your intelligence, but arguing that I have ‘over-thought’ provokes a singular disdain: the basest arrogance decrees that reason is the foe of truth.

Invoke your prejudiced decrees, and seek to denigrate my character; aghast, I wonder what provokes the kindness in the heart of man to dissipate. Compassion, were it ever there, was cast aside for rank entitlement; entitled to be heard, entitled to be unopposed and to deride, entitled to be chief among the baying herd.

Regretfully, and yet with satisfaction, I have little more to say but this: as you dismissed the sum of my consideration, qualified to overrule by spite alone, and still persist without a counterpoint to any case I’ve made; so certain of your own superiority that reasoned arguments could never stay your blade:
Go fuck yourself.

Regards, the calm majority.