5. Objects Which Inspire A Poetic Reaction

The belated appearance of this poem has been due to illness and

other misadventures – but many thanks to those of you who


This piece began with a very uninspiring exhibition at the V&A in

London, on Modernism. It included paintings, textiles and machines

which all seemed to me stark, angular and unappealing. In one

corner was a display case full of objects gathered by the architect

le Corbusier – a piece of driftwood, a lump of vitrified slag, a bone.

The title of this exhibit was Objects Which Inspire A Poetic

Reaction. I suspect that le Corbusier wouldn’t know a poetic

reaction if it sat on him, but I liked the title. So I stole it. Here it

tells a story of my own, in the style of a list which might appeal to

an orderly mind such as le Corbusier’s. As you will gather, my friend

Shelley is lucky enough to live in a small apartment behind

Hardwick Hall, and this piece charts the progress of another lovely

evening swapping tales with her.

Objects Which Inspire A Poetic Reaction

1 Hardwick Hall at dusk

2 Bats and blackbirds in a courtyard

3 A wide pine table in the kitchen of

a grace-and-favour flat

4 Two risotto-stained plates

5 A bowl of fruit

with half the lemon missing

6 The perfect gin and tonic

7 Two low chairs

with soft red cushions

beside a small-paned window

8 Rain-wet cabbages,

and crowds of nettles growing privately

9 A radio, stirring quiet light

with hints of Rachmaninov

10 The M1 at sunset

with its many beetling lives

11 A face, telling a story

12 A clean bed

a pillow

13 Dawn at Hardwick Hall