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Make Haste Slowly

Make Haste Slowly


After my piece about recovery someone reminded me of the phrase ‘make haste slowly’ that features in a poem called Haste in Arriving in Magic; my most recent collection. It is obviously an oxymoron to the rational and calculative consciousness but I like to think of it as a medieval Zen Koan, a paradox that you come back to many times until you physically assimilate its deep honesty.

My shadow immediately rises up in the face of all this piety and asks me ‘when have you actually done this?’ and I have to answer ‘not often’. I have so much mental furniture all made of task lists, filing cabinets full of them!   But I thought I would post the poem as a kind of desperate petition or prayer for more slow haste in these fast lives we charge through.


You want to rush, get to the end
work it out and have it solved.
Who wouldn’t? But the cost,
who pays the price of all this haste?

A friend of mine knew Mirabehn
Gandhi’s English companion.
Her story; when the Mahatma
found himself without a pencil
she tore off to find it, returning
breathless with the prize and
was rewarded with the words:
‘Mirabehn all haste is violence’.

Carl Jung was fond of this adage,
‘all haste is of the devil’,
he would sit and pause after
every sentence of his writing.
Those gaps, informed his genius,
as he mapped our psychic topography,
escaping the diabolical lie
that time is always running away.

Even the Roman Emperor, Augustus,
deploring rashness, for a logo had
a crab and a butterfly with the motto;
Festina Lente—make haste slowly.
Later the Tuscan Medici’s Tortoise
with a sail on its back reminded them
of those vineyards slowly maturing
followed by a measured harvest
yielding their waiting’s ripeness.

How much pain could we
save ourselves by recalling
every journey ends in rest:
death’s sacramental comma,
why hurry towards it when
there is such bounty in the
lives of those we rush past?

from Arriving in Magic – Adrian G R Scott available at Buy the Book~