Ockham's Razor

A note

William of Ockham, a Franciscan, was born around 1290 in Surrey, and died in Munich. He studied at Oxford University and wrote extensively on the theological and philosophical issues of the time. By the principle later known as 'Ockham's Razor,' he insisted that ' what can be done with fewer.... is done in vain with more'; the mind should not multiply things without necessity, an extension of 'Franciscan'.

Denounced as a heretic to Pope John XXII, he was summoned to Avignon in 1324 where he got into further hot water and entirely rejected the secular authority of the papacy. William fled to the service of the Emperor Louis of Bavaria in 1328, almost certainly dying of the plague that ravaged Europe in 1349.


when we forget
that houses are just for living in
we are in trouble

when we forget
that food is only sustenance
we are in trouble

when we forget
that friendship is priceless
we are in trouble

when we forget
that His love is paradise
we are in trouble

my God is

the green tide in the spring leaves
the redness of cherries high in the air
the excitement of shooting stars
the song of birds in summer branches
the sunrise on a winter's morning
the name of everything we don't understand

called love


We go from house to house in Francis's name
caring for the sick, begging from the wealthy,
giving to the poor, doing what we can.

At night, if we are far from home,
we lie in ditches, like other vagrants,
and watch God's majesty infusing the stars.

Grey Friars they call us because of our cloth.
Barefoot we tread the roads in solitude,
avoid the stares of women along the way.


No longer seeking approval
I revolt into shaven love!
The only thing I can so in
these wretched times of pestilence.


We observe the tiny splendours
of bright green sycamore flowers
in their red-fused glass of leaves;
the bob of wagtails across water
tells us that spring has returned
hope with the land's resurrection.
The blood red of the hazel's tufts
warns of propagation as it strangles
sour new-found desires in the womb;
it's not always easy to be
virtuous and holy when faced
with Dame Nature's loving allure.


At Avignon I was besieged
by Papal obloquy, disdain
for daring to honour higher
powers than those decked out in wealth.
What can we do when disgrace looms,
when to preserve oneself is all
that's left, when we are born and die
alone to account for our lives?


"You're a food, William," my
father informed, me one evening.
"Giving it away to a bunch
of rascals and idlers. Dreamers
who think only on the next world."
"But how can we live in this one
if we don't think about the next?"
I answered. "And can you sleep easy
in your bed with beggars outside,
at your gate?" He didn't reply.
The evening air thickened with hurt.


I don't know if the world is round or flat,
but if it's flat isn't t then like a board
for playing chess with His observing hand
always in play, whatever our designs?


I feel a contagion around me; love
(a plague upon it!) threatens my being.
I argued with my father and embraced
this ascetic path.
Now everywhere I look women's eyes meet
me and I stumble. This feeling keeps me
from His work and love; I must trim my flesh,
I must cut, cut, cut!


What do we need in our short life?
A covering; freedom from strife;
Food, plain fare; a measure of doubt;
Something to keep the Devil out!


I write in Latin, the lingua franca
of men of learning, of understanding.
I say things the authorities don't like,
try to strip away the layers of clutter.
My thoughts get lost in translation for some,
for others they are simply repugnant.


in exile I lose myself in study;
keep the head down to bookish indulgence,
weighing the void between the heart and head
not believing what I read but what chimes.


My orthodoxy differs from the Pope's.

Simon Fletcher

Hebden Bridge Web

Pennine Pens