Victorian Asylum Tower Clock/V2

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Antcliff
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Victorian Asylum Tower Clock/V2

Post by Antcliff » Mon Sep 14, 2015 7:26 pm

Look up:
see the eye of order.
Visible from all parts, crowned
by a hat of mini-battlements.

Metronomic monarch
ticking against the madness;
blind, though it stares
with a perfect devotion to purpose,

unblinking.
Two hands circle the surface,
sweeping their small set space,
set pace;

the busy broom of the minute hand
that sweeps all rooms,
the hour's slower,
superintending step.

Breakfast, dinner, time to walk,
rotation in the yard,
or, if we wish,
a time for ornate prayer,

or for guards to depart,
to fall within the realm
of some other eye,
perhaps the market clock,

or a petty ruler of a mantelpiece
all ticking against
the fainter but-still-there
mumbles of chaos.

Perch for birds, from which to fly.
Still standing, though
no citizen or king or queen,
deader than the eye of condemned cattle,

all inmates gone, time stopped.
Was it 1954?
No hands ring bells.
No hands are wrung




.....
V1

Look up:
[tab][/tab]see the eye of order.
[tab][/tab]Visible from all parts, crowned
by a hat of mini-battlements.

Metronomic monarch
[tab][/tab]ticking against the madness;
[tab][/tab]blind, though it stares,
with a perfect devotion to purpose,

unblinking.
[tab][/tab]Two hands circle the surface,
[tab][/tab]sweeping their small set space,
set pace;

the busy broom of the minute hand
[tab][/tab]that sweeps all rooms.
[tab][/tab]the hour's inspecting step,
grand matron to the hurrying minutes.

Our hands follow
[tab][/tab]in their tedious tasks,
[tab][/tab]hours no richer
than whispers in the cold.

Breakfast, dinner, time to walk,
[tab][/tab]rotation in the yard,
[tab][/tab]or, if we wish,
a time for ornate prayer,

or for guards to depart,
[tab][/tab]to fall within the realm
[tab][/tab]of some other eye,
perhaps the market clock,

or a petty ruler of a mantelpiece
[tab][/tab]all ticking against
[tab][/tab]the fainter but-still-there
mumbles of chaos.

Perch for birds, from which to fly away.
[tab][/tab]Now still standing, though neither
[tab][/tab]citizen or king or queen,
deader than the eye of condemned cattle,

all inmates gone, all hands stopped.
[tab][/tab]Was it 1954?
[tab][/tab]No hands ring bells.
No hands are wrung.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

Macavity
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Re: Victorian Asylum Tower Clock

Post by Macavity » Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:02 pm

Hi Seth,
'Playful' writing that kept my interest. The main focus seemed to be on time, a means to order and rule behaviour, and the mechanisms themselves. The flip-side, the mumbling chaos and madness, was generally lurking - providing a tension - the thought of that 'eye' blind, but knowing - time keeping generating its own madness. I did wonder if this was written on seeing that asylum clock?
all inmates gone, all hands stopped.
Was it 1954?
No hands ring bells.
No hands are wrung.
Maybe reconsider the number of times 'hands' are used throughout the poem.
Look up:
see the eye of Mordor.
Visible from all parts, crowned
by a hat of mini-battlements.
Maybe me, but that did float into the mind.

all the best

mac

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Re: Victorian Asylum Tower Clock

Post by Antcliff » Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:42 pm

Ta very much, Mac

Yes indeed, I think I should strim a few of those hands.

Mordor...now you see this is what happens of you are exposed to Lord of The Rings at a too young and impressionable age, Mac. :lol:
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

ray miller
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Re: Victorian Asylum Tower Clock

Post by ray miller » Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:28 pm

Liked it very much. Was wondering about the layout of the stanzas - are they meant to resemble half a clock-face? I was surprised to find there were only 10 of them, expected 12.

the busy broom of the minute hand - nice line
that sweeps all rooms.
the hour's inspecting step,
grand matron to the hurrying minutes. - for what it's worth, the person in charge of many asylums was called a superintendent, which is perhaps better than grand matron.

hours no richer
than whispers in the cold. - the only lines I didn't find of much interest

Fine ending, I thought. Are there still asylums in use in Scotland?
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Victorian Asylum Tower Clock

Post by Ros » Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:36 pm

Very enjoyable. I thought you lost the rhythm a bit by

mumbles of chaos.

Perch for birds, from which to fly away.
Now still standing, though neither
citizen or king or queen,
deader than the eye of condemned cattle,

all inmates gone, all hands stopped.
Was it 1954?
No hands ring bells.
No hands are wrung.

Not sure you need now and still. Can you use neither for 3 things?
Very clever last line.

Ros
Rosencrantz: What are you playing at? Guildenstern: Words. Words. They're all we have to go on.
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Antiphon - www.antiphon.org.uk

Macavity
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Re: Victorian Asylum Tower Clock

Post by Macavity » Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:00 pm

Mordor...now you see this is what happens of you are exposed to Lord of The Rings at a too young and impressionable age, Mac. :lol:
:oops: 'tis true. I have problems with red sunsets - the lidless eye!

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Re: Victorian Asylum Tower Clock

Post by Basnik » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:21 pm

I thought there were some nice things going on but my overall impression was that it was too long and overloaded with portent. Perhaps it was aping the rather overblown Victorian poetry that probably accounted for a fair few neuroses.

What I did like: 'the busy broom of the minute hand'; 'grand matron to the hurrying minutes' and 'petty ruler of the mantelpiece.' Especially the first actually, and I wonder whether this could be the nub of something really good.

What I don't like: the first two stanzas - the tone, the phrasing; and the ending with the hands pun that hasn't the wit of the earlier image.

Best wishes,
Richard
bez prace, nejsou kolaci - without work, there are no cakes (Czech proverb)

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Re: Victorian Asylum Tower Clock

Post by Antcliff » Fri Sep 18, 2015 12:56 am

Thanks Ray
Was wondering about the layout of the stanzas - are they meant to resemble half a clock-face? I was surprised to find there were only 10 of them, expected 12.
Not meant. Good idea, I will work towards 12.

a superintendent, which is perhaps better than grand matron.
Yeh, I think I prefer superintendent,

hours no richer
than whispers in the cold. - the only lines I didn't find of much interest
Agreed. I have cut.
Are there still asylums in use in Scotland?
Don't know. The family history interest has meant that I have seen quite a few photos of disused asylums, notably one in North Wales. Always a clock tower.

Thanks, Ros
Not sure you need now and still.
True
Can you use neither for 3 things?
I think so. If you can say either a or b or c then presumably you can say neither?

I will look again at the rhythm of that bit.

Thanks for your thoughts Richard


Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Victorian Asylum Tower Clock/V2

Post by Macavity » Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:11 pm

To be honest Seth - I know this is a familiar one - I prefer the original (even the indents)

cheers

mac

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