Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name....is the Will of God...-Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p.142.


One of the reasons, perhaps the main one, that in the Baha'i writings our lower nature is often personalified as the Evil One or Satin is that it is such a powerful force. As Peter Khan pointed out in a recent talk this force appears to us in a form that is most attractive to us.1 This is our test. When I saw a program on Landline about a weed known as 'branched broomrape' I could not help but see a comparison between this weed and our lower nature. This weed, this broomrape, functions parasitically drawing nutrients and water from host plants and seriously reduces the yield of susceptible crops like canola, carrots, long-fruited turnip and various native daisies.2 --Ron Price with thanks to 1Peter Khan, "Talk in Adelaide, August 2002," Transcript, Internet; and 2 ABC TV, "Landline," 9 November 2002, 6:00-6:30 pm.

So many things begin

in the Middle East:

take this forinstance--

branched broomrape.


Or, take this new Faith

which defines Evil as

our lower nature,

drawing the goodness

out of our lives

by some subtle

and not-so-subtle


sucking our nutrients,

teaching us our unfitness

through regret and remorse.1


Unprepared are we:

this weed can destroy us,

this thin-veiled ego,

these 0.2 mm pitted seeds,

growing underground

they attack our roots

and over time--our life--

some chemical triggers

this susceptibility

and we are gone again.


But…these weeds

can be killed…this veil,

this spotting of the heart,

and solid gold will

wondrously gleam

in the assayer's fire.2

1'Abdu'l-Baha, Star of the West, Vol.4, June 1915, pp.43-45.

2 'Abdu'l-Baha, Selections, 1978, p.182 ……Ron Price 11 November 2002



As much as nature stays the same from day to day, as David Suzuki pointed out in a recent interview critiquing the glamorous and stunning nature programs in recent years on television, there are always more details to see afresh. For example, I have been walking in a section of bush here in George Town perhaps two thousand times in the last 38 months. There is unquestionably a sameness to the experience: the trees, the small bushes, the plants, the earth, the birdsong are all substantially the same from day to day and yet there is variation; there are a thousand small details, colours and shapes to notice anew, to examine in finer and different detail that before. When the rain falls, as a gentle mist did this morning, and the wind blows the world of the bush is a wild one with much for the eye to see, for you to feel on your face as your clothes get increasingly wet and you stroll slowly or briskly as is your want in your morning stroll. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 3 November 2002.

There is sameness in this pioneering,

this long journey of a life,

but there is a gushing out here,

temporality's unceasing movement

toward self and other,

magnetizing the world

with a poetic voice, another voice,

my voice, experience as naming,

as words, as nucleus of the story.


Like my walk in the bush

for the thousandth time

where I smell the bluebells

and hear the birdsong sweet

for the first time and yet not,

this poem gives exhilaration1

to the inexhaustibly rich forms

that rise from this age-long

memorial, immemorial self.

1 Kathleen Raine, Coomaraswamy in the Inner Journey of the Poet and Other Papers, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1982, pp.72-3.

Ron Price

3 November 2002


Occasionally the beauty of nature has an immense impact on me in some direction. It is, I'm sure, a common experience, one that happens to millions of others on earth. Some people want to translate their experience into music, sculpture, art, song or even scientific understanding. I desire to put these intense feelings into words from time to time. The sense of the eternal, of eternity, also grips my mind on some of these occasions. When I travel from George Town into Launceston as I do in these days at the turn of the millennium, in these early years of my retirement, and I gaze at the natural setting of the Tippogoree Hills to the left, the Tamar River to the right and the trees and rock whizzing by me outside the car window, this sense of eternality is particularly strong. Poetry that has a lasting value renders the world in a new way.1 For this reason the nature that I see and which is seen by each generation in a new way as far back as the human brain was enclosed in a bony skull2 is like an eternal poem. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 11 August 2001; 1 Neeli Cherkovski, Bukowski: A Life, Steerforth Press, South Royalton, Vermont, 1997(1991), p.xii; and 2C.A. Cone and Pertti Pelton, Guide to Cultural Anthropology, Rev. Ed., Scott Foresman and Co., Glenview, Illinois, 1969, p.32.

 All around me, here, are evidences

of eternity: rocks, sharp-edged,

smooth, mile after mile,

striking my eyes from their home,

set in a wide niche millions of years ago.

Trees and a river, too,

that runs on forever to the sea,

is as close to forever as you can get

this side of eternity.


Where will I travel

on that other side of eternity?

What will I see at the top of a tree?

A blue sky beside me?

A white cloud floating by?

A house, a home, domesticity?


Will I travel as those vertebrata

of the Silurian,1

or those mammalia of the Triassic,

or perhaps the early primates

of the Paleocene,

of the early Cenozoic Era,2

with their shortened snout?


1 450 Million years ago

2 about 70 million years ago

Ron Price

11 August 2001


"Truth," wrote poet Laura Riding, "is a telling, an enactment."1 Truth for Riding was a continuous execution of that one story which is our own life and which has an infinite number of realizations. This is one way of describing my autobiographical poetry. This is my story of self, an ideal self and a real, existing self. Like Riding, I see my poetry as part of a triple connection: language, truth telling and poetry. Poetry is for me, what it was for Riding, "an uncovering of truth of so fundamental and general a kind that no other name besides poetry is adequate, except truth."2 -Ron Price with thanks to 1Laura Riding in "Laura Jackson and the Literal Truth," Critical Inquiry, Spring 1992, pp.454-473 and 2Laura Riding, Collected Poems, London, 1938, p.xviii.

According to Owen1

the fullest life possible

is that of a poet

and his poetry,

grown incessantly

and delicately

in hidden spirings,

far up-stream,

perhaps in the mountains,

silent, slow, mysterious,

now coming naturally

as leaves to a tree,2

between-whiles, casually,

dropping off bits of life

like rain in the garden

or on the roof,

chunks of wood piled,

lamps in windows

in the evenings,

occasionally a dog barks,

or the heart is pierced,

just for a second

and you wonder what

it was that hit you

in a cross-fire between

your mind and that cavity

in your chest where you

only bleed in thought.

1 Wilfred Owen in Wilfred Owen: A Biography, Jon Stallworthy, OUP, London, 1974, p.117.

2 John Keats, The Letters of John Keats, February 27th, 1818.

Ron Price

18 March 2002


After looking for several weeks at a pot of orchids out in our back porch, and being struck by their beauty, I decided to write the poem which follows. I have drawn into this poem some of Baha'u'llah's comments on the world of Nature which He writes about in His Tablet of Wisdom. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 12 October 2001.

They seem to reach out

to grab the air and my eye:

yellow effulgence

at the end of long green stems.


While I prepare an evening meal

their gentle beauty sits up

as if on display

out in the back porch,

deserving a more distinguished place.


Their red lips poised for passion

of the tender kind, generate only beauty,

no heat-of-the-moment, just enticement,

invitation, dancing in their stillness

with more grace and charm

than anything I could create

in my earthly life.

This embodiment of God's Will

in this contingent world,1

this power I cannot grasp,

bewildering splendour,

in this world of being,

an immemorial mystery.


Is this a symbol of Thy beauty?

A reflection in the ocean of Thy wealth?

Could this become a part of an emptied self,

a clear vision, a pure heart and Thy court of holiness?2


1 Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p.142.

2 Baha'u'llah, Hidden Words.

Ron Price

11 October 2001


My son came home from his holiday in Tasmania today and brought two beautiful periwinkle shells of the zebra variety. Shells are external secretions that protect molluscs: snails, clams, squids, oysters, etc. They had their beginning about 570 million years ago in about the Cambrian period. Some shells once measured as much as fifteen feet in length. What interests me here in this poem is the use Baha’u’llah makes of the word ‘shell’ in His writings. This poem, and so many poems, tries to turn the vast and unalterable silence of one aspect of reality, the shell, into a formed and articulate beauty. It tries to create new perspectives and new values in relation to self and society as emerging, unfolding forms drawing on the symbol of the humble shell.--Ron Price with thanks to Robert S. Keppelman, Robert Penn Warren’s Modernist Spirituality, University of Missouri Press, London, 1995, p.10.


You1 provided the true Elixir to transmute

my crude metal into the purest gold.

Sadly, inevitably, I suppose,

even after all these years,

there is still much metal.

That pearl, too, is still within its shell,

a shell in the great sea of Your knowledge,

still hidden in mystery beneath the veil of life.

For this shell of surpassing beauty

that protects the Pearl of Great Price2,

unveiled to my eyes, slowly over these years,

I render You thanks.


For this bounty, this favour

which has coloured my world

with forms of wonder and delight,2

is still largely hidden in chambers of utterance,

these secretions3 of my days in this ocean of life.


1 This poem addresses Baha’u’llah

2 The Pearl of Great Price is the manifestation of God; my Pearl of Great Price is my own soul. The shell could be seen as the ‘Writings’.

3 Shells are formed from slow secretions of several chemical substances: carbonate of lime, calcium phosphate and magnesium carbonate. The secretions of our lives, our shells which protect our pearls, our souls, are ‘the writings’. The inner layer of the three layers of secretion contains: mother-of-pearl and has a beautiful irridescence. Like the ‘Writings’, it is the inner layers of meaning that are the most enriching. There are some 100,000 varieties of shells; like the ocean of the ‘Writings’ it is vast, profound and full of meanings, different for each of us.

Ron Price

13 January 1999


I live at the edge of a river, an estuary, where birds fly in abundance. Some have wide wing spans and float across the horizon; some are small and sit on the clothes line outside the window. This morning I could not help pondering their flight and their connection with eternity. The folllowing poem was the result of this contemplation. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, 17 June 2001.


They drift in from eternity's past,

on the wing, floating across the blue.

They've been there since Archaeopteryx1

in the Upper Jurassic and the Cretaceous

when they learned to fly

and now are part of our very air.


We drift, too, into eternity's future

across a life of so many years

in such-and-such a place

as we slowly drink

His sweet-scented streams,

soar away into an invisible realm

and go swiftly to a mysterious land2

that stretches out before us

where we, too, learn to fly.


1 the first bird in the fossil record at 140 million years BP in the Upper Jurassic; it would appear from the fossil record that birds learned to fly during the next 20 million years.

2 'Abdu'l-Baha, Memorials of the Faithful, p.166.


Ron Price

17 June 2001


I had a young woman, perhaps 18 or 19, in my class in semester two of 1998 and we talked on several occasions about her personal problems. Adolescence, I have often thought, can be and is, hell. -Ron Price with thanks to Roger White, "Adequate Heaven", Occasions of Grace: More Poems and Portrayals, George Ronald, Oxford, 1992, p.76.

You sit so close to me;

your face is like the sun

or, perhaps, the sunflowers

in my garden: intricate,

patterned, exquisite,

perfectly symmetrical.

You tell me of your life,

your sea of troubles:

the drugs, the abuse,

the parents, the hurt—

and still you smile, radiant,

like the fresh peaches

I once ate, luscious,

too juicy to be eaten

in respectable company.


Things are working out, you say.

I do not hurt as much; I’m happier.


I nod, I contrast my tests with hers.

I think, what beauty!

We could be in heaven.

The light irradiates her flawless cheek,

her moist eye-lashes,

her firm and youthful flesh,

her glistening blouse

where breasts curve under-down softly.


We sit, heart-to-heart, so tight.

We could be lovers bound by trust

and we are,

under another blue,

cloudless October sky.


We both yearn to be happy;

we both suffer;

we both bear the weightless burden

of a love that is never spoken,

never declared; only in the eyes, the voice,

the position of the head,

in the soul it is felt

like a taste on the tongue, bitter-sweet,

a fragrance, the yellow-bright frangipani,

the colour, texture, shape of pain

and then both she and I are gone

and are heard no more.


Ron Price

12 January 1999



In my new home I can see the ocean or, more accurately, Bass Strait, far off in the distance. In front of my home is Pipe Clay Bay and the Tamar River flowing toward the Strait, the ocean. The following poem is a meditation on this scene. It seems to me that each part of nature’s world is reflected in my life’s world. I try to capture this reflection in this poem.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999.


Beyond the river,

flowing by my eye,

I see the ocean.

It’s waiting for me

when I die.


And so I sit

looking at this tranquil bay,

where boats are anchored,

day after day.


Here I sit

cooling off from life’s heat,

like these boats I’m anchored

to this seat.


I’m stopping

for a time along life’s river,

before the ocean’s eternal quiver

takes me to her place of rest

beyond this narrow place,

this little sliver.


Off in the distance

is a mountain range,

tree-covered, undulating,

stretching out, long and low

across the bay, beyond the flow.


While nearby,

at my garden’s end,

the tee-tree waves its branches

by a sandy beach and I hold

my hand out to life

with less desire to grasp,

less desire to reach,

with less desire, now,

than once I had to teach

the way I have for years.


Ron Price

15 October 1999


There can be no limits set to the interests that attached to a great poet thus going forth, like a spirit, from the heart of a powerful and impassioned people, to range among the objects and events to them most pregnant with passion, who is, as it were, the representative of our most exalted intellect...The consciousness that he is so considered by a great people, must give a kingly power and confidence to a poet. He feels himself entitled, and, as it were, elected to survey the phenomena of the times, and to report them in poetry. He is the speculator of the passing might and greatness of his generation. -John Wilson, Review of Childe Harold IV, Blackwood’s, June 1818.

This powerful people of unearthly sovereignity

has but one heart and one mind

but pregnant in a million upon million ways

with passion, prejudice and the power of One.

There are, though, John, many representatives

of its most exalted intellect in this day

of the great burgeoning:

a thousand voices of a thousand writers,

speakers, teachers, artists and a thousand poets,

each with his own voice

going out to a billion upon billion.


Fed by a teeming present of thought fragments,

wresting illuminations from the past

like some pearl diver, the teeming luminescence

of nature’s deep sea neons,

this poet prys loose a rich

and strange burning world

and carries it to the surface

in crystalline wonder,

spectator and speculator

of the predictable and ordinary,

unscripted, flawed and plausible,

editor of the life of a generation

roused to love and pain and death,

behind the sleep-fast windows

of a dozing world.

Ron Price

28 October 1995


Remoteness founds a poignancy

Whose message is unclear,

Low-whispered, garbled, urgent, floats

Dim meaning to our ear.

-Roger White, "Near and Far", One Bird, One Cage, One Flight, Naturegraph Publishers, Inc., CA, 1983, p.91.

A sorrow most resembles love

just why that is is hard to say.

Perhaps it has to do with weight,

or with the way we play.


The heart is left inflamed this way;

it burns slowly with the years

and keeps us warm indefinitely,

sometimes right through our tears.


We mourn the unexpressed we lose.

It’s true of souls and trees;

who wants to hear the sadest words

when we’re down upon our knees.


I don’t even bend down much more

for the losses of these years,

I take them with the loss of leaves

like those jacaranda dears.


Ron Price

10 June 1995


...it is the nature of sociability to free concrete interactions...and to erect its airy realm...the deep spring which feeds this realm and its play does not lie in...forms, but exclusively in the vitality of concrete individuals, with all their feelings and attractions, convictions and impulses. -Geoege Simmel, The Sociology of George Simmel, Kurt Wolff(ed.), Collier-Macmillan, NY, 1964.

This is unquestionably the community,

an instrument of mega-proportions

with a community feeling that will

triumph over everything and become

as natural as breathing, necessity itself..

So: what is crucial is our subjective

orientation toward the community

in all its manifold aspects. This is our

elan vital; this is our therapy, our centre,

our norm, our basis of judgement,

our overcoming of antisocial dispositions,

our indestructible destiny.


Here is creative tension: the individual

and community, that much talked about

dichotomy that stifles our capacity for joy;

where we are learning new bases, new

instrumentalities for happiness after

centuries of darkness; where guilt and

innocence play in a drama whose roots

are largely unseen; where the alone and

the lonely are found in a complex web

of social intersticies; where the greatest

theatre of all plays life on the stage

and we play with a required courtesy,

hopefully genuine, a certain reservedness,

but not as stiff and ceremonial as the past.


It seems purely fortuitous: the harmony,

contact and dissonance, the easy replaceability

of everyone we meet, the democracy we play at.

And we must play on the stage as players with

our parts-not indifferent-interesting, fascinating,

important, even serious, with results: after the

action, the play of several acts with many scenes

and exchangeability. Ourselves, our self, our

personality may just vanish or become coated

with the many colours of ‘otherness’.


Enter thou among My servants,

And enter thou My paradise.*

For here you must lose your self

to find community and we have

much to learn about loss of self.

It is here we shall find the

community feeling that will triumph

over everything, as naturally as breathing.


Ron Price

1 December 1995

* Seven Vallies, (US, 1952), p.47.


What is ‘real’ has to do with what we believe and experience, not necessarily with what ‘is’. -L.P. Turco, Visions and Revisions of American Poetry, University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, 1986, p.154.

The snowgeese, wild voices of the Arctic, have been increasing in numbers since the 1950s. -David Attenborough, Wildscreen, Channel 2, Perth, Western Australia, 14 September 1995, 8:30 pm.


They’ve been increasing in numbers

in a big way since the ‘50s,

a vivid reminder that there’s power

in natural cycles.

Ever since Jamieson Bond went north

beyond the Arctic Circle,

these wild voices of this northern clime

have been flooding south more than ever.


Snowgeese, you were never part of The Plan.

Was there a new spirit in the north,

calling you, calling you by the thousands?

Or was it instinct, nature, some specific

environmental process that led your

dazzling floods of whiteness to travel

three thousand miles across a continent?


What took me, not much later, across

two continents as the numbers increased?

I was part of The Plan, part of the

dazzling floods of the beauty of the rose,

bent on rising above water and clay, and

flying with the nightingale unfolding

inner mysteries high above the earth,

close to that Voice from on high,

beyond the blue-white sky.

Ron Price

14 September 1995


How we understand and appreciate a work of art has much to do with how we understand ourselves and the world we live in; our relations to art determine in part our relations to a culture and its traditions. -B.R. Tilghman, But Is it Art? The Value of Art and the Temptation of Theory, Basil Blackwell, NY, 1984, p.16.

The fact is that each writer creates his precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future. -Jorge Luis Borges in ibid., p.76.

Being an artist now means to question the nature of art. -Terry Atkinson, ‘From an Art and Language Point of View’, Art Language, 1, February 1970, p.23.

This beauteous place on the hill

is unconsciously surrounded and

enriched by a world that is created

by speech, like this poetry, which

condenses and abbreviates making

an energy potentially explosive, a

universe in itself, in miniature,

self-enclosed, self-limiting, a little

hypnotic, but not as forcefully as music,

giving body and definiteness,

vividness and depth, even a purity

and undefiledness, to this

major historic thrust of a mighty process.


The power to unite people through

shared celebration has profound

significance here among these

terraces and buildings. This poetic

office reaches out to all the scenes

of life especially that infallible touchstone

of truth and beauty in the word of the

Mystic Herald rendering people aware,

as much as he possibly can, of the

unifying forces emanating from

His retreat of deathless splendour.

Ron Price

24 December 1995


From Nature and her overflowing soul

He had received so much that all his thoughts

Were steeped in feeling....in all things

He saw one life, and felt that it was joy.

One song they sang, and it was audible,

Most audible then when the fleshy ear

...slept undisturbed. -William Wordsworth, Pedlar, lines 204-222.

..While I see that there is nothing wrong in what one does, I see there is something wrong in what one becomes. It is well to have learned that. -Oscar Wilde

Looking inward as You asked

I see something of what I am

defined in memory, in some

original impression of delight

or sorrow, or simply nostalgia’s

warm bank of images, a quality

of excitation, a pulse of sentiment

that beats within in all shades and

colours controlled at whim or simply

drifts across my screen from unknown

places in my brain. And I see, too,

through perception’s mirror judgements

made both good and bad and to-be-made

by an ebbing and a flowing mind reminding

me what I have done and might yet do

and hence the possibilities of what I am

and might become: so beautiful, so bright,

so reverent in mystery which cannot die,

and which can be felt so close, so near,

a greatness still revolving, infinite...

but also defiled can be, in infernal fire,

thornlike fetters, imprisoned in the talons

of owls with pitiless ravens lieing in wait.

Ron Price

3 July 1995



What, in the long run, makes the poet is a sort of persistence of the emotional nature, and, joined to this, a peculiar sort of control. -Ezra Pound, Literary Essays, 1954.

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,

As those move easiest who have learned to dance.

-Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism, 1711.

Indifference to praise or blame

because of preoccupation with

imaginative experience is at the

heart of poetry’s potency: its

liberating and unifying power.

For great goodness is found

in imagination’s intensity as

it insinuates possibilities and

whispers its results like the wind

blowing among the pine trees,

implying nobler, ampler

manifestations of human

achievement in a fluid and

elastic application and latitude.

Ron Price

24 December 1995


All that one relinquishes of the past is not so consciously shed as the events of imperious yesterday which cut through our enjoyment of the present and which we simply call ‘forgetting.’ -With thanks for an idea to Roger White, Notes Postmarked the Mountain of God, 1992, p.7.

If I didn’t think our mistakes were

the source of our best learning

I’d be irredeemably saddened

by some of my bitterest lessons:

like the woman I once loved whom

I drove away with my intense vision

which I wanted her to wear and by

an anger which seemed to grow

like some weed in my garden shutting

out the glow in her golden hair.


like the woman I once knew

called my mother whom I sacrificed

on the anvil of my own petard

and whose loneliness I did not see,

so blind was I to her very need;

I did not hear her cry, so caught up

was I in my own brave and lonely deed.


Do not mock the wine; it is bitter

only because it is my life! Rumi

once said. But so, too, is it sweet:

the cup of pure and limpid water*

this is the final honey of life,

a certain indifference: for one brings

one’s past into the present and finds

providence revealed in calamity,

even the one in today’s pipeline,

for there’s always a new pipeline.


And then there is the inevitable quibble,

some inner dissenting voice for one knows that

God’s will has not entirely appropriated his.

With quiet elation he turns to his book,

his garden view and his silence. The fan

blows a breeze relentlessly, effortlessly,

like the past which is never relinguished,

consciously shed, as easily as this wind

which blows in his face, or those branches

in the garden which give all their beauty

and form to nature’s zephyrs, forever.

Ron Price

28 December 1995

* ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, p.239.


Such consciousness seemed but accidents

Relapses from the one interior life

Which is in all things, from that unity

In which all beings live with God, are lost

In god and nature, in one mighty whole.

-William Wordsworth, "Prelude", 1798-99, 206-7.


If all of what my senses report

trembled into thought it would

overwhelm my mind with one sweep

of an intellectual breeze too vast.

This world comes in like

a strain of music on my soul, or

some foulest breath and darkness

which weighs so heavy, heavy:

all shadowy and fleeting

some with a wise passiveness,

some with activity directed, direct,

but always in, in, in, in, endlessly in.

And a strange intensity makes of all

that I see a schoolhouse of oneness,

with the Master of Love guiding my steps

with the faintest sense of the holy,

a holy calm with sight playing

the track of a dream for my mind

to gaze upon and godlike senses

giving short impulses of life,

forms and images that float along

as if from some interior life,

some God within, Mighty,

Powerful and Self-subsistent

was trying to tell me:

I am here.

I am your mystery;

you are mine.

Ron Price

3 July 1995


Let the dreaming, lovely drowned

who loll and bob in bubbled wonder

tell us why, returning,