Saturday, 14 July 2018

On The Blink

It's been another superbly sunny day in the jewel of the north and your Saturday blogger has been flagging - just waiting on the cool of evening to get a bit of creativity stirring.

Who doesn't love a lighthouse? As structures they have proved themselves both beautiful and useful for centuries, though in this digital age of gps they are possibly becoming redundant - mostly to be preserved as museums, icons, tourist attractions.

I had a lot of fun scrolling through hundreds of photographs of lighthouses from around the world before I chose this one to illustrate the blog. I like it because in composition, colour and the effect of light, it seems to me to possess all the qualities of an Edward Hopper painting... not that surprising, given Hopper painted pictures of several of them, mostly around the New England coastline in the 1920s and 1930s.


If you're familiar with any of his work, you'll probably know that Hopper (1882-1967) is widely regarded as the pre-eminent realist painter of 20th century America. His spare compositions are taken to express, through their prevailing quality of emptiness, the isolation and loneliness (alienation might be a better term) residing at the heart of modern American life. Check out such classic paintings as Chair Car, Nighthawks, Four Lane Road, Cape Cod Evening or Solitude for typical effect.

When it came to writing today's poem, I pondered on the situational aspects of lighthouses and lighthouse life back in the mechanical age: remote, rugged, living on the edge, alone with the screech of wind and seabirds and the mind-altering properties of weevils (in the flour). It all gives a different meaning to brinkmanship and the gloomy preoccupations that isolation catalyses. See what you think.

Brinkmanship
On the blink.
On the brink.
Recurring dreams of being
ankle-deep in candle-grease,

of splintered timbers
steeped with the reek of seaweed
haunt your circular sleepwalking,
a-tangle with mermaids
and mangled mariners
whose every agonised look
accuses...

...after forty stormy days and nights
who let the light go out?

Respite arrives
on waking with the dawn.

You climb once more unrested
to dogged duty
in the mirror room
from whose height
even the horizon looks curved,
to snuff the flames and polish
sooted lenses till they gleam.

After all these years
of living alone
in your tapering tower,
you can no longer swear
you are entirely sane.

On the blink.
On the brink.
You man a beacon of hope
and yet
a sense of darkness
follows you around.

People who live in lighthouses
can't help but throw shadows.


Okay, that's it for this one. Thanks for reading. Keep shining, stay safe, S ;-)
Reactions:

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good one dude.

Anonymous said...

Yes that's a very interesting poem, some intriguing imagery and I like the clever blink/brink wordplay.

Anonymous said...

Love this Steve.

Steve Rowland said...

My maternal grandfather was a lighthouse keeper in the Solent; so not a remote environment and he came ashore often enough to make five babies or I wouldn't be here to tell the tale.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember that M&S advertisement with the song 'I want to marry a lighthouse keeper'?

Anonymous said...

Excellent poem sir.

Anonymous said...

Agree with above comments. I love this poem.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your poem very much.

TJ said...

Fab blog. Hopperesque photograph is lovely as is your poem. Thank you for sharing.