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Saturday, March 29, 2014

No longer a Facade


[Full video available on YouTube courtesy Vanessa Dixon]


TURN BUT A STONE AND START A WING


O world invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,

O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!


Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
The eagle plunge to find the air--

That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumor of thee there?


Not where the wheeling systems darken,

And our benumbed conceiving soars!--
The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
 
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.


The angels keep their ancient places--
Turn but a stone and start a wing!

'Tis ye, 'tis your estrang├Ęd faces,
That miss the many-splendored thing.


[From Thompson's 'In No Strange Land']

EH-UP OOPS!

The Lancashire Poet Francis Thompson was born in 1859 in Preston but his family moved to Ashton-Under-Lyne during his childhood. They lived at 226 Stamford Street [until recently described as ‘still standing and marked by a Blue Plaque].
Withdrawn, odd and dreamy, he was ill-equipped for life, becoming the recurrent target of animosity and rejection. He failed to complete his training as a Catholic Priest, spent six years studying medicine at Manchester University and was rejected by Oxford University for his character rather than his intellect. During his spell as a medical student he spent his time at the museum, at Old Trafford watching the cricket, or simply in the library reading.
Gravitating to London, he eventually became a homeless and destitute opium addict sleeping under the Thames bridges.
Eventually though his poetry was ‘discovered’ after he pushed an untidily written poem under the door of the editor of the magazine ‘Merry England’. For the next twenty years he was the subject of recurrent attempts at character reclamation, with his benefactors including literary cognoscenti and a kindly prostitute.
All help failed and he died in 1907, a pale and haunted figure who had built up a litany of sentimental, bitter and ornate poetry.
Quite how he would have reacted to the collapse of his family home in Ashton-under-Lyne is an interesting conjecture.
Asked to examine the abandoned building in the light of recent falls of bricks, a council contractor on a cherry-picker was examining the facade and poking at the brickwork when the whole shemozzle collapsed.
“He was up there trying to make it safe and he obviously took out the wrong brick. The whole lot came down with a loud rumble,” an eyewitness told The Manchester Evening News.
 
 

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