Patrick Lane R.I.P. (March 26th, 1939 – March 7th, 2019)

Patrick Lane, beloved Canadian poet and treasured friend. Photo Credit: Richard Osler

When I Sleep

When I sleep the birds come to the garden
With their gifts of seeds out of ice
Last year’s leaves of grass lift into night.
All my songs have been one song.
The palm of my hand and the sole of my foot
remember everything I have forgotten.
The old lantern by the pond has always been there.
Now is the time to light it.

Patrick Lane from The Collected Poems, Harbour Publishing, 2011

Patrick Lane once said poets should not be afraid of clichés but find a way to bust them, make them new, surprising. Patrick Lane is dead. And I want to be the first to say: Stop all the clocks. But Auden said it first. And it’s over-known now, I know.

Instead I want to say let the beetles know, the ones that walked through his poems. I want to say let all the birds know. And let the cougar know, who drank from a pool as Lane looked on and the cougar looked back at him. I want to say what words can’t say.

But what I will say: All your songs were one song. And I will sing them on. And I promise I will not leave my lantern unlit.

I love you , my teacher, my friend.


  1. Lesley-Anne Evans
    Posted March 7, 2019 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sorry…I opened your email and just said No…
    My sympathies to you and yours, Richard. I know you will feel this loss very deeply. Love, Lesley-Anne

  2. Richard Osler
    Posted March 8, 2019 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much L-A! Hope you are doing well and that a publisher accepts your manuscript soon. Patrick’s loss is huge but what he gave me, huger!

  3. Mary Nelson
    Posted March 7, 2019 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Dear, dear Richard. I’ll help you letting the birds and beetles know of Patrick’s death. The world is a poorer place (a clique, but a true one) What a heart, spirit he had and how he loved to try and help us, those who love words too, but lack his grace. I know you and Somae are bereft. Mary

  4. Richard Osler
    Posted March 8, 2019 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Just saw a retreat picture with you in it! We are bereft but ok. That man travels inside me still! Much love to you.

  5. Leanne McIntosh
    Posted March 7, 2019 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    …and may the blue butterfly be lifted to the warmth of the mouth…

  6. Richard Osler
    Posted March 8, 2019 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Oh that Blue Morpho! How it stays alive long after its death! Al best.

  7. Donna
    Posted March 7, 2019 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    This has been such a hard, cold winter with so much loss, from our beloved Andy Parker, Pat Redfern’s son Ryan and now news of your dear friend Patrick Lane. Thank you, Richard, for standing as witness, finding words to illuminate and warm us when things seem dark and so very cold.

  8. Richard Osler
    Posted March 8, 2019 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    So sorry to hear about Ryan. Thank you for your warm thoughts. And for your support of my journey!Sending big blessings.

  9. Posted March 7, 2019 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this lovely tribute to Patrick. He will be missed, the poetry world has lost a leader and friend. My condolences to you and Somae as I know you were very good friends with Patrick.

  10. Richard Osler
    Posted March 8, 2019 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this. Yes a huge friend and great leader. The Griffin Trust missed a huge opportunity when they never gave him their distinguished service to poetry award!

  11. Donna Friesen
    Posted March 7, 2019 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    So grateful to have received his guidance and so sorry to hear of his death. He gave so much to so many. I will miss him.

  12. Richard Osler
    Posted March 8, 2019 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    I am missing him like crazy. Going through old letters and emails. How generous he was. So glad you met him.

  13. Posted March 7, 2019 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Dear Richard,

    Thank you for putting us together. He was wise and funny and self-effacing. Passed his gifts to so many.
    Carry the lantern Richard and sing his song.

    Much love,

  14. Richard Osler
    Posted March 8, 2019 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    So glad to have you on this journey and how far you have traveled. That time in Hollyhock was so special!

  15. sarah arthurs
    Posted March 8, 2019 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Beautiful, thank you! Sarah

  16. Richard Osler
    Posted March 8, 2019 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for being a reader! How are you?

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *