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.