Thursday, 16 December 2010

Two official poems

The first shot:

A Common House

Here he was born, on a forgotten floor
that dropped away in one or other raid.
Like you, he stumbled through the broken door
and found the place in ruins and was afraid.

Consider the small rooms of this one house
our common house, as somebody once said,
(more wreck than shelter, squeaked the tiny mouse
inside the massive warren of his head).

It’s where we work, both mouse and man. The sound
you can hear is the music of the wall
that we repaired and raised from the burned ground.
It’s what remains whenever houses fall.

The walls are dense with song. So what to do,
but open doors and let the music through?

And the second, as etched:

Open the door
Go and open the door. – Miroslav Holub

Open the door and enter the world through space,
By way of language, custom, and good grace,
This Europe, this world; a world as all worlds are:
And know it yours, as much as moon or star.

Great cities, long fields, mountains, rivers, and lakes,
Factories, institutions world makes or breaks,
Fast trains and airports lodged in the human heart,
Streets and parks, constructions of mind and art.

Here histories, manners, speech, vision, dance,
Commerce and custom, constitution, chance,
And strategy, seek concord and a voice.
Open the door. The house is yours. Rejoice

In both cases it is a little like writing with a hat on, in collar and tie. Let there be rejoicing, he pronounced in measured tones, in the hope of rejoicing.


Gwil W said...

I spent the evening watching arte. It was a docu on Molotov. He lived to be 96, I think they said.

Congratulations on having your poem selected for the EU door. It's a small step for poetkind. A giant leap over Queen's Canary.

Mark Granier said...

Nice one George, sounds like a lovely occasion.

One of my favourite commemorative poems is Thom Gunn's wonderfully expansive quatrain (or couplet), which is engraved along the wall of a stone circle (the 'Circle of Peace') in the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park:

Walker within this circle, pause.
Although they all died of one cause,
Remember how their lives were dense
With fine compacted difference.

Pictures here:

George S said...

Thank you, Gwilym.

Mark, those Gunn lines are beautiful. I didn't know them. So glad to meet them now. Thank you.

thegedle said...

Your first poem has that compelling European matter-of-factness about it. I probably only think I recognise it, being half-way round the world and catching only whiffs through chance meetings and randomly chosen books.

The second seems more English to me, but is undoubtedly better suited to the occasion/building as you describe it.

Mark Granier said...

A pleasure George. I figured you'd like them.