DEDHAM VALE REVISITED

Dedham Vale, John Constable, 1802

 

 

Dedham Vale, John Constable, 1828

 

 

September touches the Vale like a sigh,

a mellow, fruitful suspiration

edging from green to lemon, agitating

gently the skieyest leaves. The Stour

meanders to a sea of clouds vanishing

over an unimaginable Europe.

Dedham Church, a testament to wool,

focuses an especial scene: Saxon names,

corn marigolds, skylarks and enclosures.

 

share

A SHIP OF FOOLS

The iron palace of electric light

steams into catastrophe and idiom,

a culture’s symbol of folly

and achievement.

The last, late sailing of the nineteenth century,

or the first of the next, it never arrives.

Unexpected, unheeded icebergs rise

from calm, dark seas.

The Captain loses face

and chooses death. The steerage,

having nothing to lose, gains nothing from death;

rushes from the vortex of the sinking ship

into frigid waters.

 

share

ONLY ONE IN STEP

i

 

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is

somehow very ‘Thirties: lots of chaps in

the dark behind high walls; much shadow-play

with unidentifiable voices;

belated, blinding suddenness of light.

The decade’s putative worthies (who all,

by the way, seem to have been chaps) go forth

unknowingly in parallel: e.g.

Hitler in Berchtesgarten, Wittgenstein

(Adolf’s erstwhile peer from Linz) in Cambridge.

Did Wittgenstein walk with Blunt, Philby,

Burgess and Maclean as the fifth man?

share

MOST WANTED, MOST NEEDED

I

 

We know what happened to ‘the end of history’

and ‘the peace dividend’ but what will we do now

that Osama sleeps with the fishes? Gladly, there

is no shortage of men, for they do tend to be

men, for the role of bogeyman. The myth of the

ruthless, devious, almost supernaturally

efficient enemy endures, for all wars make

money for some and wars of choice – Afghanistan,

Iraq – make even more for the same some, so war

with Iran is probably,

share

PRIVILEGE

We take a wrong turn and are suddenly

in narrow, pot-holed streets, crammed with neglected,

industrial revolution terraces

built when the town was a thriving port.

Paint peels, curtains hang off rails, litter gathers –

in one of the most deprived wards in England.

In walking distance are blue chip companies.

Right to be here, by chance, on this 2012

Budget Day with its economics

of division, mendacity and greed.

 

Since it is also the first day of spring,

share