Once upon a time when I was middle-aged-and-a-day, I wrote a poem – ‘Unruled’ – about my dream for the freedom to live beyond rules. I didn’t call it anarchy. Later I might have recognised that dream re-emerging, in my comedic quest to be “transgressive”.

Over the years, individual lines and phrases of the poem leaked out into the place of awareness.

The “chilling books of stone” reminded me of sitting (1974-75) in the library at Cambridge University Botany School, gazing up into the ranks of leather-bound periodicals, wondering just how arbitrary were the citations on reading lists with which I was confronted. How arbitrary, indeed, was any education? (I still don’t have the answer.)

At least, as an aspiring scientist, my subject was flesh and blood – or xylem and cambium, stomate and stamen. There was a tactile substance in what I encountered. How much more might books have chilled me, had I been persuaded to study law, or economics?

When I was bundling together words and pictures for my first poetry collection, a writing friend suggested that the volume be called: ‘That I can chance upon the route to grace‘, which you can find towards the end of the poem.

I settled for ‘The route to grace‘ (Dalefield Press, 2014).

The “petals of a-myriad daisies” have taken life again in some unpublished poems about  the Common Daisy, Palsie-wort, Bellis perenne. And, with even more colour and vivacity, in a series of sunflower poems and imagework, including the avatar for this site.

Recently I shared an extract from the poem in an online group discussing the energy of “grace”.

A participant highlighted her enjoyment of “Please sanction this” – thank you Lisa! Your enthusiasm has alerted me to the linguistic connection (via the Latin sanctio = law, decree, and perhaps ultimately tracing back to sanctus = holy, sacred),

the connection between “sanction” (as in: official approval of an action, rather than in the sense of penalty

and “sanctuary” (as in holy place or – as I see it – place of refuge, in which to approach  wholeness, integration).

For me, this links around nicely to my own quest to find – or even to become – the “shrine without a roof” that I mentioned in a recent post. (Also known as the Green Chapel.)

Open to the sky, from which the petals of myriad daisies of contented idleness can fall.

And maybe the quest to let go of any need for external sanction/permission/approval.

Here is the poem in full.  Does it say anything to you?


Don’t scatter your fire” they said.

don’t rush out after too

many quarries, don’t tire, don’t

spread your goals

like dewdrops on the faces

of so many flowers in the mire.

So, disciplined at last, I concentrate.

but as I focus on a page,

a word, a date,

I lose the measure of the story,

the errant glory in the dewy wilderness.

Instead I gaze at chilling books of stone,

engraved with rules.

none liberate.

Oh let it be all right

to idle!

Please sanction this,

that I can chance upon the route to grace;

no, more than that –

the space and time and need to let

the petals of a-myriad daisies

tumble down upon my upturned face.

© Kathy McVittie 1993, 2014