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Tag Archives cathedral

A ROOM WITH A VIEW

I was a scholar at a grammar school

founded by Henry VIII after he had

dissolved the monasteries, stolen their land,

destroyed their hospitals, tortured the odd

abbot or two and trousered their cash and plate.

The school, a Victorian extension

of the original, was ‘in the shadow

of the cathedral’, as the head would say –

an Anglican canon, MA Oxon.

There was, in the Canon’s dismal study,

a portrait of the priapic monarch.

The reverend would order those he caned –

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SUBURBIA

Along the avenue of shorn maples,

leaded lights are discreet – distantly,

the cathedral darkens in a rose sunset.

A piano lesson begins, as cars turn

into drives and a door opens broadcasting

the six o’clock news. At an upstairs

window, a woman holds a baby, sees

nothing in the crepuscular room, hears

only the snuffle of breath on her neck,

the small heart’s beat, the swaying lullaby –

amid ordinary, pink perspectives

of curbed greenery, herbaceous living

and bells telling the hours.

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LA CATHÉDRAL SAINTE-MARIE D’AUCH

This is the first church she has ever entered.

She likes the thudding noise of her pink trainers

with the flashing heels on the limestone flags.

She stops and points. She has seen, in subtle,

Renaissance stained glass, Jonah emerging

from his whale. She sees a kneeler, lies down

before Adam and Eve and pretends to sleep.

The cathedral was on the pilgrim route

to Santiago Di Compostella

so is a place of consummate skill,

vaulting beauty and Christian arcana –

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JUBILEE

‘Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound…and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.’ Leviticus 25:9 & 25.10

 

Much of the chapters and footnotes of England’s,

though not Britain’s, history are scribed here

in stone and iron – Roman Walls, Norman weir,

marshalling yards – the rest is on paper,

of course, and from hearsay. It is said,

for example, for Victoria’s Jubilee,

in our street,

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LLECHWED SLATE CAVERNS, GWYNEDD

The quarried cavern is vast as the

proverbial cathedral or, perhaps more

properly, higher than a chapel ceiling.

Amidst the rubble on the floor is a caban,

a small, slate lean-to. Though on piecework,

the quarrymen, erstwhile farmers and shepherds

driven here by poverty, stopped, at noon,

to sing, recite, debate for an hour –

their knowledge the power to sustain them.

 

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SEASONAL GREETINGS

Door, Marrakech © SCES 2009



GUBBIO, WINTER 1992


Where the tourist buses turned, the Werhmacht

had murdered partisans – La Piazza

di Martiri Quaranti.  The cold from the hill –

old, old rock – rose from the cathedral’s floor

into our very soles. Outside, February seemed mild,

seasoned with wood smoke. We bought a hand thrown,

hand painted jar with an ill fitting lid.


Since then: earthquakes, marriages…



GUILDFORD,

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