James Deahl

William Oxley

Life exists to capture light
and art is all the dead
light we ever know . . .
— William Oxley, 1939-2020

From The Mount you can contemplate
sunlight shifting on Tor Bay beyond this village
where William of Orange set foot on England
to claim the Throne, and a mackerel ketch
keeps swaying time with the Channel’s tides.

Under your feet as you walked through gorse
and tufts of marram grass, rooted strong
in Devonian limestone, you found safe harbour,
heard the song of Taliessin, and understood many
tales of mystery spoken by the rock itself.

This became your Brocéliande Forest, and like
Taliessin before, you too sing of cosmic things,
of England’s wild dark winters and Midsummer’s sun.
You, Brixham’s philosopher poet, harvest the light
in all its seasons where bladder-wrack and

wild gulls mark the shore. Your window on the world:
out in the bay you watch waves paint white flowers
on blue waters, a deathless radiance summoned
from the sea transcending our human faults —
day by day every new poem your memento vitae.

In Manchester your father studied Montaigne
and Nietzsche, too, could discuss the mortal
and immortal things of man and God. But you
came here to Devonshire to discover a purer
kind of light, and found both love and the numinous.

James Deahl initially met William & Patricia Oxley during a reading tour of Britain in the spring of 1990. Deahl is the author of twenty-nine literary titles, his three most recent poetry books being: Earth’s Signature, Travelling The Lost Highway, and Red Haws To
Light The Field. A cycle of his poems is the focus of the television documentary Under the Watchful Eye. He lives in Sarnia, Canada, with his wife, the writer Norma West Linder.