Ian Stewart Black

Modern master of classical poetry

The Two Of Us Were Someone Else

I know you… somewhere long ago,
Before I even knew myself –
Before there was a ‘me’ to know,
The two of us were someone else.

Before you learned to fear the dark,
Before I lost the will to see,
Our spirit revelled in this spark
Of heaven drawing you to me.

But I, afflicted by the world
And weathered by these years alone,
Have never lived with faith unfurled
Nor treasured reveries of home.

Beholding nothing but the mire
Of dread and sorrow – day by day
Diminishing my sacred fire;
From joy and hope, I turned away.

And even now I fail to see
The hand that guides your path and mine;
Were all our trials meant to be –
Was it by fortune or design?

How long have we now wandered – lost
To us that distant Plane Of Souls;
A severed heart, by tempest tossed,
Forever yearning to be whole.

A glint of mischief in your eye
Was all it took to break the spell;
How could I fail to realise:
I know you, and I know you well.

Once faithless, now devout, for you
Are more than I could wish to find;
As all else falls shall this hold true:
That I am yours, and you are mine.

Paradise In This Dark Place

A shade in hopeless lamentation, well
Beyond the saving graces of the Fates –
As Satan’s kindred have I tasted Hell,
But once to glimpse the light of Heaven’s gate.
For Love is surely tantamount to God,
Thus I knew Paradise in this dark place
And smiled amid my torment, overawed –
At last a man of Faith in Her embrace.
My body may have burned, but I could feel
No sorrow, for my heart lay in Her hands…
…And fell to ashes mourning her reveal:
She too was but a vision of the damned.
No weapon of the devil’s grand design
May cut so deeply: She was never mine.

Savages Like Me

My home is where the lightning splits the sky
And thunder roars in spite of man’s domain,
Where wrathful torrents on this new earth cry
In honour of some deep, unspoken pain.
A wail of monstrous fury long suppressed
As these grey streets ignite in livid hues;
Beneath a civil smile I beat my chest
And scream – I long to be unshackled too.
This cell of bleak monotony – this life,
This flesh, this endless gnawing of the soul –
Do you not sicken in this realm of strife?
Do you not yearn to see it swallowed whole?
For when this world and its illusions pale,
The timid and the tame turn tail and flee;
Beset by thunder, lightning, rain and gale,
At last a home for savages like me.

A Letter To Susan Ripoll

Dear Susan, would you like to fall in love?
No small request, I grant you – but as fate
Has bound the waxen-wingéd soaring of
My fortunes to your answer… I can wait.
I don’t expect a miracle, the moon
To hear my wish (though that would suit me fine),
And yet I write in hopes that some day soon
The whispers of your heart would echo mine.
This world is full of music, so I’m told –
Your voice alone is calling out to me –
And so I long to have your hand to hold,
To sing together in the major key.
But if we’re destined never to embrace,
I’ll dream for us another time and place.


What is Paradise
But a moment lived in Grace,
Blushing in the Spring.

Roots In Winter

If I am a tree,
Then I am a withered tree
That grew in Winter.

My branches shuddered
Meekly under clouds of snow,
Knowing not the sun.

Cold I would remain
Should Summer ever find me,
My roots in Winter.

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.