How should we now live?

De-humanised figures
dish out
mechanised death.

In No Man's Land
ignoble, wasteful,
unprecious lives
fall, tangled, snared

Too, there is tenderness;
young lives,
young love
serene but anxious
before the horror.

And there is Amusement;
so much without thinking.
They stand dumb.  What words
could they speak?
But should the
pink-dressed clown play
piano's chords?
For frivolity?
For escape?

Without thinking movies,
silent and dynamic.
"But we like them".

And perhaps Their presence
is to give us certainty,
The King still wears
a top hat,
rides a carriage,
and dappled whites
clip clop the parade.

And God-made-flesh hides,
wrapped in a cloak
with His mother,
on the floor,
fleeing one land
and its evil.

And the Soul of the Soulless City?
Should it not be just
'Soulless'? - 
lost bearings
of skyscrapers and fumes
and endless, pointless
travelling, travelling,
always moving,
never stopping.

Is there any hope?

In resurrection?  In a 
second chance of life 
and its riches:
smelling flowers,
seeing sky,
sharing moments?

Perhaps our redemption
is closer at hand:
Ex Divina pulchritudine
esse omnium derivatur*

When we see beauty,
we see the divine.

('Divine Beauty is that from which all being is derived' 1926, Eric Gill)

Inspired by paintings in Room 1910 in Tate Britain, London
CRW Nevinson La Mitrailleuse 1915
Charles Sargaent Jagger No Man's Land 1919-20 bronze memorial sculpture
Walter Richard Sicket Bright Pierrots 1915
William Roberts The Cinema 1920 Abstraction)
Alfred Munnings Their Majesties' Return from Ascot 1925
Glyn Warren Philpot Repose on the Flight into Egypt 1922
CRW Nevinson The Soul of the Soulless City (New York - an Abstraction) 1920
Stanley Spencer The Resurrection, Cookham 1924-7
Eric Gill Ex Divina pulchritudine esse omnium derivatur 1926


7 thoughts on “How should we now live?

  1. Excellent! I really like this. …and it makes a difference reading it in the quiet of home vs trying to scroll down on my phone in a noisy pub. You’ve been writing for a number of years? There is a maturity to your style that says so.

    You’ve inspired me to pick up my pen again. It’s been a few years since I last wrote any poems but I’ve had it in the back of my mind.

    Happy Monday!


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