AMONG THE TRUMPETS

A committee of eight Hebrew scholars –
politically balanced between high church
and puritan – produced in Cambridge
University four hundred years ago,
what Tennyson called ‘the greatest poem’,
the King James’ version of The Book of Job.
They were not paid but promised possible
preferment – essential for some comfort
in the church and the groves of academe
of a country racked by civil strife.

Their contribution to the new monarch’s
pursuit of national unity
was ten books: from Chronicles – ‘These are the sons
of Israel…’

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THE AQUEDUCT

At the bottom of the valley – here briefly
more gorge than valley – the ice age river
runs white and rapid. Deep in its narrow banks
rest the vast brick columns of the aqueduct
that carries, in a narrow cast iron canal,
one hundred and twenty seven feet above,
water from the river tapped upstream –
Thomas Telford’s genius, recognised
as one with the Statue of Liberty,
the Taj Mahal and the Acropolis
and become a stop for Japanese tourists.

Above the valley along the toll road
Telford built from Holyhead to London
is the scattered village developed and named
for the aqueduct –

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TRIUMPH OF THE WILL

‘Half winged-half imprisoned, this is man!’
PEDAGOGICAL SKETCHBOOKS, Paul Klee, 1925

 

Cruising from Westminster to Greenwich, we passed
Tate Modern, the old Bankside power station –
art as regeneration. The current show
was ‘Paul Klee – Making Visible’. “Making
a fool of himself, more like!” called the captain
over the tannoy. There was much laughter
and some applause. The 02 Arena
and the Thames Barrier came into view –
two works of abstract art as engineering.
In the Royal Hospital’s Painted Hall
are Thornhill’s baroque maritime murals –

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SOME CORNER OF A FOREIGN FIELD

‘”…you…will not enjoy their coming. War, fierce war,
I see: and the Tiber foaming with much blood…”‘
The Sybil from Virgil’s Aeneid, Book 6, lines 86–88

 

We found the grave by chance – stopping in Warwick
on our journey south. What drew us in
always beckons: the sad purposefulness,
the dark evergreens – towering larch, spruce, pine –
old graves, their lettering past pollution
almost erased, askew with ivy, moss,
lichen, the shadows of stories, echoes –
‘In Memory of Hannah Louise,

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