John Donaldson photo Paddy Summerfield
OxfordPoet.com


John was a brave and remarkable man...there is real vision in his poems

      - Kathleen Raine


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Extracts from a letter from Kathleen Raine, renowned English poet (1908-2003).

John Donaldson was indeed a brave and remarkable man, capable of such deep commitment of his life to an exploration and a sharing of the deepest dereliction of the lives of the 'down and out'. There is real vision in his poems, and I read your book late into the night (Season of the Butterfly).

I have never read another book like it at all, and could not help contrasting it with the life of Ramana Maharshi, by universal consent India's greatest saint of this century. He ran away from home as a schoolboy and something said to him that he should have a change of lifestyle. So he made his way to the holy mountain, taking nothing but his train fare, and slept in temple precincts and in filth and discomfort, living on food given him by people by the way, gradually drawing to him his devotees. John was also moved by a similar wish to devote himself to the healing of the world, but our civilisation does not support such people....

It is amazing that John found as much response as he did, but after all human needs and aspirations are the same everywhere. The Lord Buddha did the same and of course, Jesus. The sheer impossibility of finding a spot of earth to sleep on, in a country where there is no common land, everything belongs to somebody, and the sheer problem of relieving the bladder and bowels of the propertyless, and of keeping clean.....

I can understand what was in John's mind when he gave himself totally to seeking to bring about the only revolution that can change the world, A CHANGE OF HEART IN PEOPLE, ordinary people everywhere. I feel deeply humbled by your most moving story of his life, as I suppose he had told you his experiences of that period. He was fortunate to find you - and you him.

I respect you both greatly.


Betty Donaldson 2006-11