Muir Holburn - Selected Poems

Previous   Contents   Back to Muir   Next




(Chorus from a Dramatic Poem)





When the green city is in its cuddling days,

The brisk and acquisitive capture the proclamatory hills,

Design huge well made shells on the steeper places,

Plant croquet lawns, intermarry, promptly assume

Postures of vernal sumptuousness – with elbows supporting the pyramid

But the hot days soon

Crash into dogdays, while the winter hums

Near in the future. The metallic fever ebbs.

The house asserts its latent stoniness.

Statues which fluttered sweetly through expensive groves

Are suddenly trapped in hideous arabesques,

Their faces, beneath lichened parasols, blushed with dirt, flushed grey with toil of posing.

Tramline shuffles upwards. That viler rot

Of pilfered goods, that repulsive misery,

Depressing women, wageless men, delinquency

Spreads like insidious virus, sharply away

From swampsphere, wharfgas, quayside neighbourhoods,

Begins a pilgrimage, disorganising

The avenues of charm, the melodious boulevardes.


The hills are stricken then, The insurgent moiety

Wears down the middles of proud flights of steps,

Scribbles on the walls, makes

Permanent its initials in the abandonned mahogany.

The exhausted Patriarch tipples backwards

Upon the partially digested Axminster.

Clever vindictive mothers struggle to marry

Dismayed daughters to the suitable vulgar young

Shifting to vibrant landscapes further west.

Even the spiritless virgin plans an academy on a small scale,

With singing and soft washing thrown in.


But think of the stone house, barbarously

Anaesthetised, muse on its pain,

Dissected or most mawkishly converted

Into a “coming” or well thought of guest house

For nervous profiteers and haunted aunts.


O the stone house, O the well made shell among

 The precipitous terraces–

You cannot marry or die or spit up a pearl or

 Evacuate the bedridden zone.







Previous   Contents   Back to Muir   Next


© Copyright Muir Holburn 2010