Missing Dates


"Missing Dates" by William Empson is a powerful complex poem which does not readily yield up its meanings; but, as poetry often does, it strikes chords and notes within us which go right to the marrow of our beings, way beyond the limitations of our rational understanding. It opens

"Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills,  

It is not the failure nor the effort tires. 

The waste remains, the waste remains and kills.

The theme of the poem is days unlived, pallid and passionless, dying before they've bloomed into possibilities, poisoned from opportunities lost, unrecognised, ignored.

The poem ends,

"It is the poems you have lost, the ills 

From missing dates, at which the heart expires.   

Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills. The waste remains and kills."

What miracle of the imagination, I wonder, will make me more mindful of the opportunities each new day brings? Opportunities which offer to send the blood singing through veins to the tune of life lived more fully! Each day gifts us with the opportunity to see more clearly than we did the day before, to feel more deeply, search more keenly, struggle more courageously. Each day we receive freely the opportunity to fit our heartbeats to the rhythms of the universe

Melting our limits to the illimitable

Tuning the finite to infinity."

How many opportunities to forgive old tired wrongs are lost in the toxic waste of those missing dates! How many expressions of love and reassurance! Gentle touches! How many opportunities to shine our light in a dark world are gone forever! How much have we missed of the goodness of others: their kindness, compassion, self-sacrifice; their justice, their faithfulness!

How many small spring flowers have we trampled on with our unseeing! How many bright hills have offered us consolation in vain!

And when we ponder those missing dates, those unwritten poems, those fires   put to ashes, will we feel the poison of waste surging sluggishly through our blood streams!


31st July 2019 The Guest House
21st June 2019 The Glorious Abundance of the Almighty
25th March 2019 Shrinking
15th January 2019 Balance is All
19th November 2018 The human hunger for beauty
9th October 2018 Shifting Perspectives
19th June 2018 Thank God I was wrong
16th May 2018 "Today is a new dawn, new, clean and fresh - and so are you, my dear! Don't worry. All is well."
26th March 2018 The Long Winter
7th March 2018 The Gift of Tears
19th January 2018 An Understanding of Kindness
14th December 2017 Do You See This Woman?
17th October 2017 We Are All One with You
7th September 2017 Gaps
20th June 2017 "Love is not loved."
25th April 2017 I Hope You Dance
21st March 2017 From Darkness to Dawn
27th October 2016 The Bright Field
27th June 2016 The Enemy Within
31st May 2016 The Little Way to The Almighty
25th January 2016 Love Immeasurable
11th November 2015 Letting Go
21st May 2015 The Gift of Loss
6th May 2015 Walls
24th November 2014 Leaning into Winter
24th October 2014 Crossing the Road
25th June 2014 Fetters of the Soul
30th April 2014 The Power of Gratitude
10th March 2014 The Darkling Thrush
11th February 2014 Spring
10th February 2014 Masks
3rd February 2014 Dancing in the Wind
21st January 2014 Chains of nostalgia
13th January 2014 Forgiving wrongs darker than death or night
7th January 2014 Singing out Loud
17th December 2013 CHRISTMAS FOUND
9th December 2013 Withering into the Truth
2nd December 2013 The Celtic Prayer Garden
25th November 2013 Missing Dates
18th November 2013 NEARER GOD’S HEART
12th November 2013 Night
27th April 2010 Healing God
25th November 2009 Our Poverty
1st September 2009 Which of the two tigers will win the fight?
1st June 2009 Be your own role model
25th May 2009 The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord
18th May 2009 Power of the real presence
7th May 2009 "Lessons I did not learn in School" - by Bill Gates
30th March 2009 The Long Walk to Freedom
23rd March 2009 Become a Friend
16th March 2009 Ireland in Identity Crisis?
9th March 2009 Love to Pray
2nd March 2009 Life - Giving Words
16th February 2009 Exclusion Policy
9th February 2009 Somewhere the Child
2nd February 2009 The Conversion of St Paul
12th January 2009 Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"
22nd December 2008 A Christmas Parable by Louis Cassels
15th December 2008 Work – from In the heart of the Temple by Sr Joan Chittister
8th December 2008 Am I at home when the doorbell rings?
1st December 2008 Street Corner Christ
17th November 2008 How Did I Get This Busy?
10th November 2008 A Homily for The Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – 9th November 2008
3rd November 2008 John O’Donohue taken from “Benedictus - A Book of Blessings”
27th October 2008 Charles Peguy 1873-1914, French poet and politician
20th October 2008 The following is an extract from a talk given by Bishop George Lungu of Chipata in Zambia in Africa, to the synod of Bishops being held in Rome this month.
13th October 2008 Excerpt from ‘A Door of Hope’ by Jean Vanier
6th October 2008 A Reflection on Matthew's Gospel 21:28-32
29th September 2008 The Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII