Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Blackened Caryatids of St. Pancras Church

The other day I wrote the following lines:
Below the vast November sky the heat-cracked surface lies
half an inch up, baking and changed,
the roots are fruitlessly unearthed.
The blackened caryatids of St. Pancras Church stand like sentinels,
themselves unobserved – potential reminders of a cancerous London.

Something moves lugubriously in the earth. The armoured octopi have stirred;
their feelers snake past tarmac and stone, dreaming
of gustation, touch.
I still haven't got a clue what it means. I've tried to revise it, to try to make sense of it, to make it part of a 'whole', but every attempt seems to fail. It's very frustrating. The Caryatids and the roots undoubtedly obsess me, but I don't seem to have anything interesting to say about them. It's partly the way they stand that interests me, each of them spaced so gracefully apart, gazing into air, with one hip thrown wide. But the thing that obsesses me the most is the way they're so dirty. I don't know how long ago the above picture was taken, but now they're literally black. On the one hand they embody the beauty of the female form, but on the other hand they're marred by a thick pollutant. The first time I walked past them, there was something incredibly poignant about them. For a moment I felt as if they were speaking to me, that they existed just for me and wanted to tell me something - that they, the Caryatids, and everything they stood for, were being deformed by the crazy ugliness of the industrial/commercial world.
An old teacher of mine, Tim Liardet, said there comes a point in the writing of a poem when the writer should know what he's writing about; only then can he form a fully realised piece of work. I guess what I've been struggling with over the last few days is that I didn't know what I was trying to say. I thought it was something so deep in my unconscious that I was unable to bring it to light. Whatever it was, I thought, it's too garbled, too dream-like and fragmentary. But now I think I know what I'm saying. I know what it is the Caryatids have done to me. They've reached into my soul and reminded me what it feels like to strive for something greater - something not of this world -
This entry was made possible by A Suit That Fits.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So graceful and ephemeral their gradual distruction by pollutants is a crime.