Ian Stewart Black

Modern master of classical poetry

Month: April, 2018

A Death Awake

The end of all things.
When the water fills my lungs,
Will I be alone?

Will memory conspire to set my soul
Adrift on vestiges of bygone days,
Expel the mortal horror from my gaze
And drown me in the joys of old.
Will fantasy compel me from the waves
With glimpses of a new, untainted life –
To walk unhindered on the sea of strife,
My shadow sinking to his grave.
Or am I bound to reap as I have sown,
Confined in cold and breathless depths to wait;
With neither sight nor sound, a death awake –
Descending into dusk alone.


Blood Upon Your Knife

Like a honey bee – 
The sting that irritates me 
Is fatal to you. 
You say the moon is static, still it spins, 
You proffer tales of war in times of peace – 
You label me the phantom of the feast 
When all your demons dwell within. 
And what have I to fear of slander, I 
Whose fortunes rest upon my will alone – 
Do you believe my pride so fragile, prone 
To shattering? You claw at stone. 
Disparage me, deride my works, and curse 
The day my light beset your dreary life – 
But know you this of blood upon your knife: 
That you, not I, shall suffer worst. 



I wish for all that I deserve –
For nothing more and nothing less;
If passion idled in reserve,
I’ve sown a life of emptiness.

But let it not be said of me,
Not I who fought the rising tide
When all about were glad to flee –
Not I who bore my scars with pride;
No, let it not be said of me
That mine was such a timid heart –
I sought and strove to wander free
And sacrifice my life to art;
I cast aside a cynic’s fear
Believing love would save us all,
And thanked a fabled god to hear
The voice that mocked me as I crawled;
For I was faithful as I bled,
My promise true until the end
When all that’s good in me was dead –
But I would die for love again.

And I would struggle on in vain
To clamber from a lake of mud,
In sheer defiance of the pain
Though battle-worn and smeared with blood;
Believing that a fist of fire
Is stronger than a wall of steel –
Conviction, passion, and desire
Will seldom fail and never yield.

So measure not my worth in what
I have, but that which I deserve –
Consider what my words have wrought,
And test the limit of my nerve;
When all my lesser deeds are shown
In every hue of fear and hate,
Regard these sins by shame atoned
And only then decide my fate;
To be a ghost that lingers in
The splendour of your gilded frame,
Or roam the paradise within
And light my soul upon your flame.

I ask for nothing more or less –
To sow my worth, and reap in kind;
Thus never say my life was blessed,
But rather say my life was mine.

Defiant To The End

Our work is never done. Not while a beating heart
Has reign of ragged bones, and breath invigorates
This vessel of the earth. Our work is never done.
The truth no longer hurts; compassion is our cause,
Our reason beauty. Still, our work is never done.
While there is life ahead, and while the spirit writhes
Defiant to the end; while there is strength enough
To clear the fog, and see the world that ought to be:
Our work is never done.


Beauty finds a way;
Flowers bloom in the desert,
Perfectly alone.

The stars burn brightly
In the eyes of mortal men,
And in their absence.

A songbird echoes
In the chasm of my heart,
Though she sings no more.