Bill Milner

Remembering Bill Milner, poet missed in Market Drayton

I came across this poem, treasured and kept safe for years, as I was trying to clear my office of assorted junk.  It’s a beautiful poem, which I think was written as a response to another poet writing in a different language. Bill Milner was translating La Fontaine just before he died, and was familiar with German, Latin and Greek texts, as well as Arabic and Indian poets. He was a fantastic tutor, too, encouraging and learned – a great combination. Here’s his poem:

Only when the war years have receded;
Only when the world around is silent;
Only when you start as a believer;
Only if you make your way alone;

Only when you have the elders’ blessing;
Only when you’re footsore from the journey;
Only when the moon is at its fullest;
Only when it is exactly midnight;

Only when you step into the boat so lightly
It hardly seems to settle in the water;
Only when you dip the oars so slowly
To leave the silver surface undisturbed;

Only when your hearing is near perfect;
Only when you show an endless patience;
Only sometimes, then, you’ll be rewarded:
The fish will sing and give you rare delight.

Bill Milner

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10 Responses

  1. maureen

    Only when you show an endless patience;
    Only sometimes, then, you’ll be rewarded: Yeah patience is a virtue.

  2. AJ

    It really seems to be the truth. Only when everything aligns, mystically, or whatever way you call these wonderful circumstances, anything you would want to happen really happens in the most delightful of ways.

  3. Wilson Jake

    Wow, I see why you kept this for years. Wonderfully composed, I myself have to keep this safe.

  4. Harry

    A magnificent peom I just read a lot of only ifs which is are things that can help keep the world stable.

  5. Oyeyipo Oladele

    This is a cool and magical poem for all to see and like. The is what’s called power of poem. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Danielle M

    Beautiful poems, it makes me think how even it’s hard to believe great and unusual things can happen sometimes when meeting the right conditions.

  7. AMAN

    It was really awesome lines to read. The most interesting part which touched my heart was to have patience to get the success.

  8. Prince

    An awesome poem, touched my heart. So painful this poets aren’t appreciated as their work are just amazing

  9. Meldred Judith

    This poem is simply amazing. How it speaks to the soul is very astonishing.

  10. Maury Cheskes

    I love Bill’s insightful words. He really illustrated moments in time with vivid imagery and resounding intellect. Thanks for sharing.

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