Tom Paine's Soul

First published in "Diary of a Bipolar Explorer" (Signal 2018)

Tom Paine's Soul

Tom Paine's soul

'Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?' (John Keats)

The soul is not a king housed in a lofty citadel
but a serf ploughing the broken land;
not aloof, but watchful and wary.

It is an axe to the rotten tree-trunk,
a spade to the stubborn soil, a hammer
beating a tune on an ancient anvil.

The soul is not ethereal, preparing for an afterlife,
but substantial and of this very world;
not silent but sentient, unruly.

It speaks in a voice that all can understand –
not beyond but through the body, like wind in the trees
or the steady wash of waves on sand.

The soul is not meek, but strong and fearless;
quick as mercury, fresh as raindrops,
bright as buds, and green as leaves unfurled.

It is work in progress – work that’s never done.
There is no stand-off between spirit and matter;
they are not two entities, but one.