Sebastian Barker 1945-2014

Sebastian Barker studied Natural Sciences at Oxford and worked for a PhD on the physiology of respiration. He gave this up to write poetry.

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Later in his life he converted to Roman Catholicism. And he lived in Greece.

He read the first of these two extracts at a concert in Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge, two days before he died. It was to launch the publication of his last anthology, The Land of Gold.


The Ballad of True Regret


Never to look on the clouds again.

Never the flowers, nor seas.

Never to look on the sparkling rain,

Nor Easter in the trees.


Never to tread on the forest floor

Mottled with pools of light.

Never to open the kitchen door

To walk in the starry night.


Where will I be, when you are here

So full of life. so full of cheer,

And I am in no place we know

Where I and all the living go?


An earlier poem said what he thought of science once he had become a Roman Catholic.


Death is truly rated in the conscience of the just. It is the spur to the horses of instruction. God will not be adumbrated by the minimind of man. God is in the wine jars and the tablets of the bread. God is in the seahorses and the resurrection of the dead.

We do not even know how we are able to digest our food. Socrates laughed at scientific explanations of anything under the sun. And quite rightly, too, because he didn’t even know why the sun was there.

The gods of Sitochori are Christian and kind. They are not chronological, like Chronos. They do not swallow their children. They are the flowers of the roadside and the untrod village path.