Poetry Corner The Statues. Monuments

Following the death of George Floyd and during one of the subsequent protests, a statue of Edward Colston – a slave trader – was toppled in Bristol. This has led to the call for a great many of these statues to be removed, including the one of Henry Dundas (The Melville Monument) which towers high over St Andrews Square in Edinburgh.  Robert Burns is reputed to have referred to Henry Dundas as a “damned auldfarren” which means to be behind the times/old fashioned. In regards to all of these statues still standing I would suggest that it is we as a society that in this instance are behind the times; they should have come down a long time ago and put into Museums where they belong. #BlackLivesMatter


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The Statues

Pythagoras planned it. Why did the people stare?
His numbers, though they moved or seemed to move
In marble or in bronze, lacked character.
But boys and girls, pale from the imagined love
Of solitary beds, knew what they were,
That passion could bring character enough,
And pressed at midnight in some public place
Live lips upon a plummet-measured face.No! Greater than Pythagoras, for the men
That with a mallet or a chisel” modelled these
Calculations that look but casual flesh, put down
All Asiatic vague immensities,
And not the banks of oars that swam upon
The many-headed foam at Salamis.
Europe put off that foam when Phidias
Gave women dreams and dreams their looking-glass.

One image crossed the many-headed, sat
Under the tropic shade, grew round and slow,
No Hamlet thin from eating flies, a fat
Dreamer of the Middle Ages. Empty eyeballs knew
That knowledge increases unreality, that
Mirror on mirror mirrored is all the show.
When gong and conch declare the hour to bless
Grimalkin crawls to Buddha’s emptiness.

When Pearse summoned Cuchulain to his side.
What stalked through the post Office? What intellect,
What calculation, number, measurement, replied?
We Irish, born into that ancient sect
But thrown upon this filthy modern tide
And by its formless spawning fury wrecked,
Climb to our proper dark, that we may trace
The lineaments of a plummet-measured face.

Written by William Butler Yeats


how you rise and stand
to imprint your vanity!
how you rise and stand
to keep your heads high!
how you rise and stand
to fail to face the pendulum!
how you rise and stand
to fall and decay in column.
Written by Mohd Arshad


1 reply »

  1. Mornin’ Helen – here’s something for you – I remember my Mum, a kind-hearted, gentle woman – belting this out like a right rebel!


    And while we’re on the subject – there’s old Sutherland – why is he still standing there?


    And I’m away into the garden, on this lovely Orkney day, singing “Up went Nelson in old Duuuuublin….”

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