Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Telescope poem

Up at Clifton Down on Saturday the Suspension Bridge shone in the callow Spring sun, but I had eyes only for the poem which adorns the telescope outside the Observatory. It’s a heartbreaker.

Point the telescope & insert coin,
Turn and fully return knob.
Observe the View and at night the Moon.
Don’t look at the Sun. Hold child on stand.

Coin-operated telescopes are a rich source of found poetry. Who can forget the Yard’s analysis of the shattering Scopepoem at Well-next-the-Sea (“The second stanza makes hot tears spurt.”)?

The Clifton poem can surely claim to be in the same bracket. It hardly needs me to point out the reference to the Book of Ecclesiastes in the second line’s lyrical flourish (“Turn and fully return”) nor the hopeless ‘optimism’ of “and at night the Moon”. As for the double-blow of the concluding line, if there is anywhere in this world a man cold-blooded enough to read it aloud with dry eye and lumpless throat, I've yet to meet him and I'm not sure I'd want to.


No Good Boyo said...

Superb. I once compiled poetry from the tragic little emails colleagues would send about having failed to establish video connection to London or, better still, having that connection blatantly severed at the other end.

One moment I cherish was:

"I could hear them
But they couldn't hear me."

Gadjo Dilo said...

Charming. A genre that is entirely new to me. The third line is surely a translation from Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, but I confess that I find the last line a bit Reeves & Mortimer.

Brit said...

Gadj - well there's a lot of tragedy in the comedy of R&M.

And NGB - that one says it all, really. Says it all.

worm said...

the biggest question:

did you get to see any owls?

Brit said...

One cannot see owls when one's eyes are filled with tears, Worm.

David said...

For pith, boldness and truth, it takes a lot to beat:

Objects in mirror
May be closer than they appear.

Brit said...

Isn't one of Meatloaf's interminable songs about that?

David said...

Aren't all songs really about that?