Laurence's poetry site, with mostly his own poetry, family data and
Christmas letters.


My Own Poems . . . the first three I consider to be my best work.

The Kite

The sun will rise within an hour as softly shuts the door.
I turn the key and gently step out on the lonely shore.
The air is still and misty and the sand is damp with dew.
My mind has will to wander so my feet must wander too.

The silent sea is swelling. I hear a seagull bleat,
My heart responds in sympathy, I feel it miss a beat.
A distant dog is howling, a lonely mournful cry -
The loneliness surrounds and chokes and wets my troubled eye.

I contemplate the question as I walk along the beach
Of what to do when what I want is close but out of reach,
When sentiment is surging and my soul is all alone;
But my tears are of self-pity and I cannot let them show.

I watch a black kite swoop and circle silent in the sky;
And he sits upon a post awhile, to rest, the same as I.
He's watching something wistfully; I trace his steady stare -
He sees a purple pigeon feeding seeming unaware.

The Kite could catch a lizard or a bird of injured wing,
But he knows he cannot get the Dove nor pleasures she would bring.
If he made a move towards her, the Dove would fly away,
So he'd sooner feast his eyes on her and dream he had his way.

Just like the Kite, who'd rather watch than scare away the Dove,
I could, but dare not, get too close, nor touch the one I love.

Laurence Swift 1976
Written in Hodeidah,
on the Red Sea, Yemen


The Lobster's Advice

One day, while fishing by the sea,
I heard a whisper close to me
And turning round upon my chair
I saw a Lobster standing there,
Proudly preening without pause
His long white whiskers with his claws.

He said, "Young man, your rod and line,
Though baited well, and looking fine,
Will never do if you would find
The sort of fish you have in mind.
For those that come to you allure
May pretty seem, but insecure -
They sparkle now with colours gay
Which, by tomorrow, fade away.

The kind of fish you're looking for
Are well-concealed upon the floor;
They will not rise to take your bait
However long you lie in wait.
You have to seek them out yourself
Upon some underwater shelf,
Beneath the water's pastel blues,
Through shoals of fish of rainbow hues,
Past coral forests, green and red,
And there, upon a muddy bed
Among the hazards - sharks and rays
And moray eels with eyes ablaze -
An object unpretentious lies.
The oyster is your worthy prize.

Her outside may be rough and plain
And yet inside, an unseen gain -
A pearl of wisdom, faithful stone
That may forever hold her own
Above the fish of fickle fin;
Which proves that beauty lies within;
So take, young man, advice from me -
Look deeper down than first you see".

The Lobster seemed to fade from sight
As I woke up; but was he right?

Laurence Swift 1976
Written on the Red Sea coast of Yemen.
Printed in the local UN "Fishy News".



To ....

What a lovely thing to do!
To walk up, kiss and cuddle you!
What a thing to think of
When I am on the brink of

But never try and make it true.
For if I keep the dream -
And what a dream to keep -
I have the dream forever.
But if I try and make it true
It founders in the deep,
And I have no dream left to dream
While I am fast asleep.

What a dream to entertain!
Driving me insane
Until the chill of dawn
And morning fills my eyes with rain
While your eyes scorn;
And I would feign
To sleep again
To dream away the pain
In my heart born.

Laurence Swift 1971


Mouse's Eye View

Were Women made, as I believe,
For Man's companions, Adam's Eve?
Or are they the a race apart
Uniting solely for the art
Of propagating human kind?
To think that way I'm not inclined.
I'd like to think we're all the same -
But - females never play the game.
Each goes around with all the others,
Meeting men for making mothers.

Marriage more or less is mad
For four in five will turn out bad.

If boys and girls could stick together,
Merry ever, marry never,
Glad of one another's presence,
Making love of no consequence;
Think of all the happiness
That breeds itself when we breed less -
No more hunger, no more mess;
Fewer births thus fewer deaths.

The population is exploding
Faster than it is eroding.

The lemmings have the right idea -
They drown themselves when food is rare,
But we, of course, must civilise,
We multiply like butterflies
Until at last there's no more bread
And we make do with cake instead.

But what to do when all is gone?
Will someone have to drop a Bomb?
Will mutant plants then dominate
And feed on us, plants we once ate?
But no! - this folly has to stop.
The answer's in your chemist's shop.
It's up to each and every one
of us, to see that something's done.

Published in "Sennet",
University of London Union newspaper,
27th February 1968, p6.


The Sperm

This little chap is called a Sperm,
In case you didn't know.
He has a purpose in his life
And knows just where to go.
He has to find a willing egg
And gain an entry in.
The egg and he then merrily
Will fuse their chromatin.
It all sounds simple, put like that,
But have you ever tried
To think of how poor Spermy feels
When he can't get inside?
Perhaps he lacks the basic knacks
Of swimming through the maze,
Or not enough of what he needs -
Or maybe there's a rival sperm
That beats him to the prize.
He has to turn his head away
And wince, and close his eyes,
And, with a million of his mates,
He knows he has to die.
He asks the saddest question now -
The chromosomal Y?


You call yourself a Christian!
Resplendent in your youth.
And yet you fly, let Life pass by,
A fugitive from Truth.
You hide your pretty face away
In myths of long ago,
Embroidered new by writers who
Assert to prove them so.
You read the Christian writer's texts   
In introverted groups,
And blind to light, you fly your flight
In tightening spiral loops.
You let them talk you into it!
Dismissing all you know
Of Life on Earth, and all its worth,
And all there is to show.
You read the Bible, reading in
Your own interpretation,
Imposed upon the words therein
With little derivation
By writers claiming that they're right,
That Truth cannot be bent,
While twisting things that someone said
To "This is what he meant!"
You delve into the history,
Ingesting it as fact,
Ignoring all controversy
Conflicting with your act;
You shut your ears from all those fears
That maybe I am right;
You cease to see the facts that be
You shield them from your sight;
You cling to tenets tenuous
To hang your life upon;
You clutch at straws, and close the doors
To facts that still live on.
You hold your arbitrary faith
With innermost conviction;
You push away the proof today
That stands in contradiction.

I met a Meta Cercaria upon the grass today
And then the Meta Cercaria looked up at me to say:
One day I'll be a liver-fluke and live-a life so gay
And, with a little bit of luck, I'll live inside B.J.! 

(BJ was Beresford-Jones, our parasitologist at the
RVC  [Royal Veterinary College])
For Jim and John it may be right -
They failed in three so now must fight
To keep their foothold in this place
Or take their leave with due disgrace.

But let it be - there's worse to come -
It happens there's a hopeless some
Who've gone and failed all ruddy four!
They surely will be shown the door.

These miserable people know
Their future hopes are touch and go;
They didn't work at all in June
And only now at full of moon.

And one of them does waste his time
In writing silly bits of rhyme.

Poems Written When I Was Very Young


Little balls of white,
Pink tipped,
So smooth and silky to touch,
Soft lipped.

Scurrying here and there
So fast.
All the world to see,
So vast. 

Unrelenting Time
Moves on.
The happy carefree days
Soon gone.


How I like the little lizard!
I think he's simply wizard,
Sitting in the sun so still
Or darting quickly where he will. 

If you seek him you will find
That you're surely almost blind.
His sober colours always blend
With the stem that he does bend.



The serpent's sleeping peacefully
This long-forgotten day.
The water warbles wantonly.
His thoughts are far away. 

The whole wide world is at his will.
The continents are one.
The Reptiles are the Monarchs still
For Time has just begun.

The Pythoness is wandering
And ceases not to seek;
Her mottled form meandering
She follows every creek. 



I made it out of rubber tube and glass and plasticine.
It makes the sort of noise you would expect from a machine.
Its shape is hard to put in words except to say it's keen.
It has a waxy smell that makes me think of where it's been.
It runs on Evo-Stik or chocolate or Yellow Vaseline.
It gurgles like a baby when I give it glycerine.
Its complicated structure is impossible to clean,
Though it doesn't really matter since it's scarcely ever seen,
And if no-one wants to buy it then I think I'll paint it green. 




The parallel ways are divergently steered.
The unspoken only is meant.
The unwilling hero has now volunteered.
The unwritten letter is sent.
The misunderstanding is finally cleared
And the debt is repaid that you lent.
In sorrow I leave you, as always I feared,
For my heart I know cannot relent.


I knew you once, as younger then than now
In vain September. Then I looked askance.
Came fair November's party, kissed your brow,
But missed my heart elsewhere, and lost my chance.
'Til Mistletoe of Christmas; when we kissed
You asked if it meant anything at all.
Your words I treasure far beyond their gist,
Together with so much that I recall.
Time passes fast. You age a year today,
Nineteen, a woman now, I celebrate
And toast you on this twenty-fourth of May,
Concealing tears that say, "Again I'm late". 

The wheel has turned full circle, so it seems;
The girl I once ignored now fills my dreams.


(sung to the tune of The Wild Rover)

Being a Description of the Real Events of a Journey
Undertaken on 6th October 1975 by a group of Bold
And Daring Young people from Ireland, America
And England.
Proving to be a Perilous Expedition Indeed from the
Mountains of Yemen to the shores of the Red Sea.

"I drove a Land Rover for many long years,
And I spent all my money on switches and gears.
But now I've returned for repairs by the score,
And I never will drive the Land-Rover no more -

"And it's No Nay Never, No Nay Never No more,
Will I drive, the Land Rover, No never, No More!"

I went to a garage I used to frequent
And told the mechanic my fan-belt was spent;
I asked for another, he answered me nay,
And said the consignment was still on its way.

Then I from my pocket took plenty of Rials,
The garage-man said he was open to deals.
He said he had fan-belts, both old ones and new,
And surely could find me a belt that would do.

So on with "Concern" from Sana'a to Zabeed,
And down to "Al-Faza" the first day of  'Id.
We parked the Land Rover and set up our camp,
Then at midnight we swam by the light of a lamp.

We partook of supper and put down our beds
While a million mosquitoes flew over our heads.
We finished our housework, the tasks and the toils,
And sat in the smoke of our mosquito coils!

And it's No Nay Never, No Nay Never No More,
Will we camp in the jungle, No Never, No More!

Then we were invaded by animals wild -
An army of hermit-crabs, harmless and mild.
But Maggie was frightened of creatures that creep,
So in the Land Rover she wanted to sleep.

Then Maggie rejoined us in singing out loud
While Helen was dozing, away from the crowd.
The sing-song subsided, 'twas time to retire,
When Helen gave out with "The car is on fire!"

We reached the Land Rover and saw through the haze
The seats and upholstery all were ablaze.
We used all our water, the flames to subdue,
But how it all started, we haven't a clue!"

This tale has a moral I have to relate -

Though Maggie evaded a fiery fate,
If you would do likewise, then this I implore -
Just don't ever drive the Land Rover no more!

This is a real story. The names of the people involved are:-
George Ferguson, Bob Watson (US Peace Corps). Tony
Shanley & Olivia Milligan (Concern, Ethiopia). Bob
Burke, Colm Ryder, Pauline Curry, Veronica Davy ,
Margaret Moriarty, Helen Fanning, Aine Ni Loingsigh,
Mary O'Leary (Concern), John Rollins, Laurence Swift.