“Van Go”, he said, thus mangling it Quite in the American style – Yet in the accent of a Brit, From maybe Preston or Carlisle. So natur’ly I had to cough And stem this slovenly display – “I think you’ll find it’s said ‘Van Goff’, Misspoken in the English way.”
I saw a lepidopter’s case, A peon to the butterfly. With filigree of carapace From abdomen to compound eye. The duffer who possessed these critters Spoke at loving length of flitters
I wondered how this gent possessed Their tiny feet and stain-glass wings, For clearly one who so obsessed Could never harm so precious things – Therefore, it must surely follow, Ev’ry bodyshell was hollow.
These weren’t spent, discarded parts – For butterflies can never shed – They never get a dozen starts, And only gain their wings to spread Upon their change to adulthood – They change for once and change for good.
Maybe then they’re not rejected, Rather they are shiny new – Here displayed to be selected By the crawling grubs who queue – So they choose their new quintessence As they quit their adolescence.
Some are brighter, some are duller, Some are nippy, some enlarged – Pick a model, pick a colour, Carbon-framed and sugar-charged. Are you a grounded caterpillar ? You should check these stats – they’re killer !
Just as a church is crowned by a spire,
And just as the spire is crowned by a cross,
So the cross is crowned by a stiffened wire
That points heavenwards and reaches higher,
Showing God that science is boss.
From king to serf to country squire,
Nobody’s prayers and nobody’s choir,
To God or Thor or Helios,
Can stop the bolt of electric fire –
Not any pope or priest or friar
Can tame the spark and spare the loss
Like copper can. And that is why
There’s a spike that jabs the eye of the sky,
With a finger raised to the holy man on high.
Crystal Palace – it’s a suburb,
Station, park, and football team,
And a memory to a time
When this nation still could dream.
Once a product of Empire,
A palace to capture its roar –
Now just a flat-topped hill
In the Republic of Elsinore.
Straddling boroughs, pumping fountains,
Soaring towers, glass for miles.
Flames across eight counties
And her spell no more beguiles.
“No more beguiles” – that sounds Victorian –
Half vers libre, half Tudor sonnet.
Flirting with jazz and television,
Yet still bedecked in her bustle and bonnet.
She was no Bauhaus, no mere function –
Cast iron crockets encrusted her shell –
For all her prefab industry,
She always wore her baubles well.
Ah, she’s gone now, like her dinosaurs,
She’s of her time and place,
Though her place of course is the one she named –
You cannot say she leaves no trace.
A snail upon the concrete, half way high,
Just scaling up the slabs to the broken-bottle prism
That shards into the crown that lacerates the sky –
It’s breaking up the straight lines, a bauble on the brutalism.
This snail is still there, weeks later, its shell becoming its coffin. I wonder if it were poisoned by the concrete ?
I went on down to the Tate today
To see the pompous, macho art –
Art that’s oh so very clever,
Art that’s far more smug than smart.
It hates so much to be attractive,
Loves to interrupt the brain –
Wants to make the world more ugly,
Wants to dare us to complain.
But most of all, this art is terrified,
It’s scared of beauty and of ornament –
Frightened of a crafter’s gentle pride,
And what to do once all its shock is spent.
But most of all, it’s frightened we might think it gay,
And desp’rat’ly it butches up its empty walls.
But I really loved my trip down to the Tate today –
By far the best of spots to view St Paul’s.
On the Inability of many Victorians
to adequately append to their Dissertations
such short and succinct titular Benamings
as would better serve their weighty Publications
without exposure to crucial Details
of sundry Devices and Plots thus delineated
by which the presumed Reader is disprivileged
and their subsequent Enpleasurement undersated.
The rich live in houses, the poor in cells,
This is how classes are classed –
From Kensington Gore to Tunbridge Wells
The best were designed in the past.
The poor get newer and concreted hells
That are decomposing fast.
Of course, the new could be just like the old,
But then they would all get far too bold –
So keep them ugly, keep them cold,
And build them not to last.