Mar 18 2011

Jay Ramsay – I saw a great light come down over London

Published by at 9:00 am under Ivan's Story,Poetry

I saw a great light come down over London (from Transmissions)
by Jay Ramsay

I saw a great light come down over London,
And buildings and cars and people were still
They were held wherever they were under the sky’s
Clear humming radiance as it descended –
Everywhere, in shops, behind desks and on trains
Everything stopped as the stillness came down
And touched the crown of our heads
As our eyes closed, and the sky filled us
And our minds became the sky –
And everyone, regardless of crime class or creed
Was touched; as slowly we began to stir
Out of this penetrated light-filled sleep
Dizzily as the hand completed its dialing,
And the train lurched forward
And I saw faces looking at one another questioning,
I saw people meeting eye to eye and standing
Half amazed by each other’s presence
I saw their mouths silently shaping the word why
Why didn’t we know this? and yet knowing
They already knew, and without words
We all stood searching for the gesture
That would say it –

As the lights went green, and we drove on.

— from Transmissions, by Jay Ramsay


/ Photo by Arwen Abendstern /

I was a poor child, but raised in an affluent area of Southern California. Several of my friends lived in large houses, with manicured lawns, some with swimming pools in their back yards. My friends had two parents, while I was raised by a single mother. They had family dinner times, Sunday church or Saturday temple, went on family vacations together.

They were living the “normal” life, the American upper middle-class ideal. And I had a strange relationship with their world — I craved its stability, the things and experiences my friends had that I didn’t, but their normalcy was also foreign to me, even a bit eerie. It just didn’t seem real to me somehow. In some ways I wanted it, but I didn’t want to be caged by it.

By the time I was a teenager, I became obsessed with seeing through the facades of that “normal” reality. I wanted to know what secrets were hidden away in the overlooked shadows. I became interested in everything from meditation to history to science to linguistics — all ways of trying to understand the hidden meaning behind the world that everyone takes for granted.

…And, for a time, I was also fascinated by the phenomenon of UFOs.

I think that’s one of the things I really like about this poem — it can be read as a collective moment of spiritual awakening, but it can just as easily suggest a city-wide encounter with a UFO. That’s the first thing I think of reading this poem. It’s not really clear what is happening, just that there is a shared moment of stillness and wonderment. Everyone stops and is confronted with a dazzling, otherworldly reality. What’s actually happening seems less important than the shared experience. Not only is this a witnessing of something that transcends the day-to-day existence, but there is also a recognition of fundamental connection with everyone else. To me it is almost like the opposite of a terrorist event; instead of tragedy, everyone comes together in a unifying moment of bliss and amazement.

Then, of course, the lights turn green, and the business of living continues. But perhaps those people carry with them just a bit more sacred wonder into their daily activities… and who knows the many subtle, far-reaching ways it will continue to radiate out through their lives? This is how private spiritual experience quietly transforms the world.

Jay Ramsay, Jay Ramsay poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Jay Ramsay

England (Contemporary)
Secular or Eclectic

Jay Ramsay is a British poet and psychotherapist.

He has been a singular and influential presence on the poetry scene over the last 25 years and has increasingly come into his own as a voice for transformative spiritual, political and psychological awareness. He has been described as “England’s foremost transformation poet” (Caduceus magazine, 2007). He believes that poetry has a unique, catalytic role in our culture.

Jay has edited poetry for Kindred Spirit (1997-2004), Caduceus (2002-), and More to Life (2006). More recently he has been poet-in-residence at St James’ Church, Piccadilly in London (2005-6), with his sequence Anamnesis, the remembering of soul displayed in the church, and billposted on A3 sheets on the main street outside.

Anamnesis is now available on CD (recorded with Tibetan bowls) from www.lotusfoundation.org.uk, the website also has the texts of the 16 poems, written monthly over the period.

More recently he has completed a residency in the Sinai desert for the Makhad Trust (March 2010) with a sequence of poems and photographs (see www.makhad.org) which will be published and exhibited, and also for the church at North Stoke near Bath (July-August 2010) for Martin Palmer at ICOREC/ARC. www.arcworld.org

Jay Ramsay has written many individual collections including Kingdom of the Edge (New & Selected Poems 1980-1998; Element Books, 1999), some classic Chinese translations Tao Te Ching, I Ching, Kuan Yin; Element, 1993/HarperCollins, 1995), and two acclaimed prose books about alchemy (1997 and 2005), he has also edited four anthologies of New British Poetry: Angels of Fire – an anthology of radical poetry, commissioned by Andrew Motion (Chatto & Windus, 1986), Transformation – the poetry of spiritual consciousness (RGP, 1988), Earth Ascending – an anthology of living poetry, 55 Contemporary British Poets (Stride, 1997), and Into the Further Reaches – an anthology of Contemporary British Poetry celebrating the spiritual journey (64 poets: PS Avalon, 2007).

His latest collections launched in his 50th year is Out of Time, Poems 1998-2008 (PSAvalon), The Poet in You (O Books) and Places of Truth (Awen).

More poetry by Jay Ramsay

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Jay Ramsay – I saw a great light come down over London”

  1. Alistairon 18 Mar 2011 at 11:46 am

    http://khidr.org/index.htm

    Did you recite Al Kahf today?

  2. Madathil Nairon 18 Mar 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Dear Ivan,

    Enlightenment indeed is a UFO. Of course, not of the pedestrian variety guys often improvise. So, I knew this morning as I was waiting outside the emergency room at our Company hospital.

    My wife was inside, totally dehydrated due to severe diarrhoea and, in the waiting area where I fidgeted, the TV screen was showing “Cose Encounters of the Third Kind” – a classic movie I have always loved.

    She is alright now and peacefully alseep.

    What a coincidence – the film and your coming up with this particular poem in a span of a few hours. That confirms there is some connection between aliens and enlightenment.

    I am a UFO enthusiast although Advaita has applied brakes on the reckless ET craze of my young days. I haven’t seen any UFO yet. Neither have I been abducted. Yet, often do I muse, perhaps, we are all under abduction and we know that not.

    There is lot of poetry in UFOs. Let them therefore remain a mystery for ever.

    Kindly take care (not from UFOs of course)!

    Best regards.

    Madathil Nair

  3. Mithraon 18 Mar 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Hi Ivan

    Today as I was coming back from work, I got off the train at my stop, crossed the road to buy Hyacinths. I turned around and I saw a beautiful subset in London and took a picture of it on my phone.

    i came home and while dinner was cooking I decided to read emails and saw your chosen poem and made me smile.
    Thank you.

  4. Moiranneon 18 Mar 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful poem Ivan. I agree with one of your earlier responders regarding “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, a very very special movie indeed, in which we were pointed in the direction of the “something more” that is accesible to us in our day to day living.
    But to get back to todays poem; it seems to me that it highlights the profound presence of the sacred in the ordinary. As I grew in belief of God I came to awareness that God is indeed a “God of the insignificant and the ordinary”, and Jay’s poem captures these thoughts just so aptly.
    And the thought for the day blends into that scenario so well

  5. Mickon 19 Mar 2011 at 5:26 am

    Hi, thanks for this poem. As a poet, all I can say is that it’s beautiful. Thank you for writing it, Jay.

  6. Larry Coonradton 19 Mar 2011 at 11:53 am

    Maybe this was just an un-ordinary moment in an ordinary moment coming together to create a “ufo” moment. However, the brightness of the moment was the recognition from all who experienced it that at the least for that moment we all were “ONE”. We all saw each other, connected and more importantly saw and felt the connection. How beautiful, how divine.

    Of course after this moment of bliss, the light changed and we moved on with our lives, but were we changed by this blissful moment ? I would have to say we were.

    GOD BLESS ALL,
    NAMASTE

  7. nasihaon 20 Mar 2011 at 12:35 am

    just the right poem to start my day and i saw the most magnificent moon last night, very beautiful and elegant indeed, and i gazed at the moonlit horizon..
    thank you

  8. Subhan Alion 25 Mar 2011 at 5:22 am

    Respected Ivan,

    You put my name where is yours. Except palce of living my life-story is same. Your story mataches with hundreds of thousands ones in the world along-with me.

    Hi Respected Ivan,

    “I was a poor child, but raised in an affluent area of (Southern California = Raghunathpur village near Hapur, near Delhi, 55 Kms) Several of my friends lived in large houses, with manicured lawns, some with swimming pools in their back yards (in Hapur). My friends had two parents, while I was raised by my mother (for sometime). They had family dinner times and went on family vacations together.

    They were living the “normal” life, the (American = Indian) upper middle-class ideal. And I had a strange relationship with their world — I craved its stability, the things and experiences my friends had that I didn’t, but their normalcy was also foreign to me, even a bit eerie. It just didn’t seem real to me somehow. In some ways I wanted it, but I didn’t want to be caged by it.

    By the time I was a teenager, I became obsessed with seeing through the facades of that “normal” reality. I wanted to know what secrets were hidden away in the overlooked shadows. I became interested in everything from meditation to history (BA) to science (Intermediate) to linguistics (Master) — all ways of trying to understand the hidden meaning behind the world that everyone takes for granted.”
    ………Subhan Ali

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