Delighted to have received this poem by David Alderson written in response to my drawing made in honour of the Solar Eclipse 2017 exhibited at Torbay Hospital in 2019. David is a Doctor, Educator and Writer - I highly recommend his website at

Admitting the Possibilities of Error

Through circling stars on their diurnal courses

Sol’s chariot steers an invariant line,

And Venus and Mercury ride with the horses,

Dutifully rising in front, or behind.

But Mars and Saturn stray further, even Jupiter falters,

like prodigal suns stealing pods from the swine.


As we carve our own path of care and connection

Through the sublunar world of flux and disease,

We expect of ourselves Ptolemaic perfection,

Which even the planets can never achieve,

Growing layers of callus over memory’s conception

Of frailty and failings, we conceal and deceive.


But cut us more deeply, or stretch us till we break

apart, and you’ll find the amplified echo

Of rippling failure, of every mistake,

resounding within us from lifetimes ago:

Blame, shame, guilt and heartache

In dissonant waves which reach to our core.


Yet an axial slice will more truly reveal

Our annular bands, seasoned, matured—

Dry summers, hard winters, each ring tells the tale

Of new growth springing up after every fall—

Like numberless sheets of well-tempered steel 

In the resilient blade of a Japanese sword.


And far from despising our own imperfection,

As we find our endeavours once more out of true,

We discover the value of flawed variation:

Creating fresh insights, perceiving anew,

Embracing the notion of self revolution

Which always begins with the shock of the new.


David Alderson