Pictorial blethers

By blethers

Getting away ...

A blip of one of my hanging-out-of-the-window-in-a precarious-fashion shots, because of the dramatic light and because the two ferries crossing the Firth (Western Ferries in the far distance, CalMac nearer, heading away from Dunoon) looked so small for such important lifelines. They also show that the world is still moving, people are still crossing the water, life is going on - though now that we've decided to be sensible we're not seeing so much of it.

But I was also reminded of a poem I used to love teaching - pupils as young as S2 were able to appreciate the imagery as well as the sad story. So I'm going to leave it here - laboriously copied, I'll have you know, as I can't find it anywhere online.

Pompeii, by Hilary Corke.

What did they do at Pompeii? Go away?
Well, they could go: the world was wide enough,
Three miles would clear them, anywhere would do,
There were other towns and farms in Italy.
Under a fat vineyard something heaved -- 
High time to pack and scarper? The volcano
However was always there, making particular
Rumblings the less cogent. In the atrium
The new fresco of cupids by Pidonius
Was much admired and would be hard to leave:
Four cows were heavy in calf: the soil besides
Was hugely fertile, sulphur in the tilth,
The grapes grew there like grapefruit. Even when 
The earth shook almost open and the cone
Sprouted in giant feathers, it was not
Too late: but let us see what Polpius does,
Whose brother's of the guild of geologues ...
Running, loving, crouching by pots of gold,
Poor souls, the fire preserved you where you lay;
At which we stare and poke in the museum today.
Our case is somewhat different though not quite --
No matter if history points an altered gun:
Burning by fire of fire will all be one;
Dying in any hour is fall of night.
How constant the rumblings are, yet what's to be done
But till our vineyards, paint our atria, 
Pay formal visits to the homes of friends,
Love and beget and do what we should do,
Now the whole world is one volcano grown;
And though we would fly, there is nowhere to fly to?

I find I can almost remember the poem by heart, such was the impression it made all these years ago. My generation grew up with the constant lurking threat of nuclear annihilation; for now, it seems to have receded in favour of new threats (only 3 months, or less!) - an altered gun indeed.

Sign in or get an account to comment.