Some poems by Jane Fox

Some poems by Jane Fox (aka Jane Abrahams), an anthroposophist and poet living in Johannesburg.

(A composite figure combining the symbols of the 4 Evangelists: Bull, Lion, Eagle, Man)


I’m here
here in the labyrinth of your mind
you know my name.

See my shadow
huge on the wall
horned head and sloping shoulders
however you twist and turn
double back along the passages
try to dash for freedom
you’ll feel my breath on your neck
on the bones of those I’ve devoured.

Quail, Soul, for I have invaded your will.

Rise from your abject crouch
and look at me.
No? Not a muscle moves
I have sucked out your strength
I have turned your bones to water
I am drinking your will, Soul,
for I am parched.

We are walled in
you with me and I with you
and the labyrinth is growing
soon it will fill the whole world
and my Keeper the king of it!

But I am ill, Soul – starved by eating flesh.
This flesh is poison but I must eat it -
I am an eater of flesh and spirit
Fear me, Soul, fear me!

I hear you, Beast, and I call you by your name.
Up there in the starry heights of heaven
was once your place – there
between the Ram and the Twins.
Once you were provider and nourisher
friend of the plough and furrow -
You are so sad in these stinking tunnels.

What’s that?
You dare to pity Me?

I dare to pity you, Beast,
for we are both star-born.

Go then!

But first
take me by the forelock
lead me out to the light and air
let me eat grass again, O Soul,
and sweet hay.


Why do you pray, O Soul?
your prayers do not go anywhere
for as we know
in this enlightened age
there is no god -
nothing to revere
So why do you kneel, Soul?
all you’ll get is sore knees

It makes you feel good, all that praying?
meditating on the one-ness of all
and devoutly speaking the mantrams?

It’s a sham, Soul. If you believe all that
you’re a fool, and the world
will laugh at you
Come, admit you’ve outgrown all that claptrap

Better still
use it to get rich
the Gun
hand in glove with the Cross
(or whichever religious symbol you prefer)
now there’s a profitable partnership

And in times of peace
get them to pledge their savings
for a stake in your phoney heaven
It’s easy, Soul, just needs
proper promotion

All this makes you feel hollow, Soul?
We can’t have that.
What you need to do
is to stay focussed. Success
is what matters. That’s the real god.
And when the day is done
relax in the comfort of your home
and let the TV fill you in
Watch the ads, get all the latest –
you need to plan your lifestyle

You’d rather plan your life?
That’s so out-dated! Oh well
I’ll try to help, but at all costs
we must stay away from introspection
I’m here
to shield you from unpleasant truths
that might upset the balance
of your mind and heart

Don’t turn away from me, Soul!
You need me
without me you won’t achieve
without me
your life will amount
to nothing

We need each other, Soul
to stay alive
I must worm my way
into your heart because I’m cold.
Look at my coat, going bald in patches
Look at my legs, withering away,
I wasn’t meant to be a reptile -
I am turning into a reptile, Soul!
Don’t leave me alone in the cold.

When time began I was different
strong in heart and breath
fearless and noble in bearing.

Help me, O Soul!
I need you
I need your fire
I need your golden fire to warm me
Warm me, O Soul, that I may again become

a Lion.


Here I sit
I have been dead for years
my eyes are made of glass
my feathers falling out
my blackened claws clutch the dead twig
of this dead tree

and I am fixed for all time
hunched under my glass dome
in the corner of your room

take care! take care!
my parrot cry
under our dome we know where we are
it’s our safe house
air-tight, spirit-tight
out there in the cosmic realm
how can we know what to do?
how can we know we’ll be safe?
what if out there
we’d be endlessly wheeling
in the mindless dark?

Under our dome
we’re closed to all that scary stuff
waiting to launch us into worlds unknown

lets keep our feet on solid ground
or in my case, twigs
and turn on the sound
silence is dangerous
in the silence you might hear
angel wings brushing the glass

don’t listen!

Of course
under here
we’re living life at second-hand
can only use
what’s in the dome

what’s in the dome of our heads
perhaps I mean
I’m getting muddled up
my thoughts are like dead leaves
drifting away into the dark
Why is it so dark, soul?

My eyes can hardly see
they are made of glass
once I was eagle-eyed
could soar
almost to the heights of heaven
see the smallest movement
in the grass

Once I knew:
In the Beginning was the Word
my Word

but now I am dead
the corpse of a bird
No light
No Word

Let the light strike
my dead eye O soul
let in the light
that I may live again
to fly


Here I am, Soul
waiting for you
waiting for you to see me

Since time was -
our time I mean -
when you began to shape me
I’ve been hoping we would come
face to face

Why do you wear a blindfold, Soul?
Because you fear to look at me?
I’m not surprised.
An artist should look
at his creation
even if it’s a monster -
not hack blindly

Monsters frighten children
you are not a child, Soul, now.
Raise your hands
cast off your blindfold
and meet my eyes.

Then take your sculptor’s tools, Soul,
and work.

Jesus bleibet meine Freude… (Jesu, joy of man’s desiring…)

My mind follows you up into the air
carried in that fragile metal projectile
kept safe by aerodynamics
which I do not really believe in.

Jesus wehret allem Leide… (Jesu, take away all sorrow…)
So then I invoke your angel, all his glory streaming,
to ride safely astride Lufthansa’s little miracle
up, up and over the arch between hemispheres
and set you gently down
on the runway
at Frankfurt.

…aus dem Herzen und Gesicht. (…from our hearts and minds)

This was written after I sang with the Johannesburg Bach Choir as part of a special service at the German Lutheran Church in Bryanston.


The Thomaskirche – icy cold:
the choir sits haloed in their breath
the strings knuckle their hands
turn up the corners of their scores
and wait, tapping their bows.
The congregation, hatted and shawled
shuffle their way forward
thread themselves along the pews
the oboist
feeling his coming notes with the fingers of his mind
holds his oboe under his jacket
warming it against his heart.
The gentle harpsichord
stands in the midst, a poem in pale wood
its carved keys waiting to weave
the melody. And then they come
the bishop in green, the pastor in white
treading cheerfully amongst their flock.
The conductor collects eyes
raises his baton
and Johann Sebastian blesses the air.

This was written after I sang with the Johannesburg Bach Choir as part of a special service at the German Lutheran Church in Bryanston.


I walked abroad the other night alone
along the shore, the tide was at the full
crashing upon the piled-up rocks; I stood
transfixed because among them lay a dragon
a curled-up rock-hewn beast with young beside.
Two faces it had, with nostrils gaping wide,
one spine, one tail. It lay inert and still
struggling to be alive. Almost I saw
its back rear up, its tail lash out, its eye
blink open and shut and all its stony length
shudder and surge as wave on pounding wave
broke over it and died.
Dead stone it was and knew itself to be.
So lay, and in its lying cried
such tears of stone, I wept myself to see.


In the wood
there stands a tree
a star-bright rose
of purest white

a burning man
rides o’er the lea
his blood on fire
with his desire

he plucks the rose
she pricks his heart
and mingled blood
and sap run down

his outstretched arms
her dying stem
all in the wood
a cross do make

a dreaming cross
whereon the blood
is changed from red
to purest white

where falls the blood
there springs new life
a mystic rose
entwines and grows

to flower at last
in crimson blooms
athwart the cross
a sacred sign

astride the world
it stands and sings
our Rosie Crosse
promise divine


You bear me
my Companion
as the wave bears the surfer.

I too have waited
marking time
before catching the moment
gathering myself
lifting to a stand
then off !
riding the green glass of my youth
inches ahead of the tumbling crest.

As surfer to wave
wave is
to the swell of the blue Atlantic
riding the high storms
from Cape to Rio
Reykjavik to Scott’s island
carried on the ocean’s back
as the continents move in their dreaming.

Who then bears you
my Companion?
For nothing is not held

It’s there
at the edge of my sight
If I could turn fast enough
I would see the wings
sweeping Africa.

As wave is to ocean
ocean is to globe
cupped in its palms
the waters hide their secrets
high on its shoulders
the eagle drifts in splendour.
Globe carries all.


Who then bears the Archangel?
Look up!
On a cloudless night the southern stars
sing in their pathways
sing the praise of the Nine Shining Ones
who bear all
engender all.

Poised between sun and earth
the single surfer
must slide at last into shallows

of uncertainty
to a shore as yet a mystery
which will become

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