Thursday, June 05, 2008


Photograph appears courtesy of Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, Warwick District Council

As promised last month, here is the poem commissioned in connection with the Warwick Poet Laureateship to commemorate the recent re-siting of the elegant 'Elephant Circle' seat by Nicholas Dimbleby in Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa, which you can see pictured above - with one of my own sons taking an impromptu elephant ride!

Circus Elephants in Royal Leamington Spa
(in memoriam Sam & George Lockhart, elephant trainers)

Exotic, thick-lashed, they arrive
with their entourage
of flap-eared uncles and wrinkled aunts.

Flirtatious, on elegant display,
they sashay
the white length of the Parade

and people stare as they pass,
bold debutantes
overwintering at the Spa.

Like heroines from a Regency romance,
come here to acquire
‘a little town bronze’,

they admire themselves in shop fronts,
twirling Oriental silk parasols
in their dusty trunks.

One hundred years on, you can
almost see them
in the park each dusk, walking

single file in the cold,
taking themselves down to the river
to bathe; daisy-chaining,

trunk-to-tail, their vast
delicate feet
like scallop-edged drums

thumping the concrete,
always just missing the civic pinks
and marigolds.

* 'Leamophants' is an alternative title for this poem, dreamt up by Jon Morley of Heaventree Press fame; didn't take to it at first, but now I rather like it. Thanks, Jon!


Bo said...

Jane - it's delightful! As acute and vividly imagined as ever - I love the paradoxes of bulk and delicacy that pattern the poem.


Thanks, as ever, Bo. My one-man fan-club!

It took an awfully long time to write. Nearly three months. That was mainly thinking-time, though. The actual writing itself was only about an hour.

And the poem falls into two discrete parts, which may be a flaw - I can never decide. But I've noticed that quite a number of my poems in recent years seem to do that.

I've got another commissioned poem to post up, by the way, this time on Leamington Spa Station. A very different kettle of poetry indeed, as you'll see. I'll do that in the next few days.



Oh, and I nearly forgot. My Latin teacher - John King, also the Classics master at Rugby School, no less! - has very kindly and painstakingly translated this elephant poem into Latin. Or an approximation of it, anyway, since you can no doubt see the difficulties immediately.

So that's something else to post up soon - and I can be sure THAT will certainly amuse you!


Background Artist said...

hurrah!!!KEB is effin great H

Welcome to a sole whorl holy
land-lashed fresh ash-willow

arrive: exiting an entourage
of exotic stavesm flapping

flirtatious aunts, wrinkled: elegant shape peoples shift

perplex parading editor: hey
a sashay the peoples length

tuatha passing a white Lancs
hire shoppe our contemporary

debutantes bold stare at:
the Spa, heroines: regent-

romance like, come here
acquit the *town bronze*

admire ourselves for who we
in front -- silkies hipping

Oriental saint hildas - gra
mister stan's parasol, Ogam

dens and biffo in a trunk,
dusty one hundred ears off

Tower racked *get then effers
chopper dons almost unseen

seeing now walking a single
dusk each river cold cliff

between two steams: bhard
chained to babbling daisies

fluer de failure, mal rucks
vast flat footed inner felt

incises: across druim edge
a stem met concrete there

then thumping them always
missing brehon bearla file

civilisation canned culture
pink Eds marm golden ism: S

well mage material, imo Hart
BS kay tuatha native Lugh

fan of trolls in chains, we
rs Gwynne, Brythinic coll

Wayne and his hazel whorling
cardigans reversed psychic

kaleidoscopic pictures, tim
ID time returned ash staves

votive urns burial, death
taxes and Comuncille, Iona

dove and lover in Eoin's man-
or - island owen found church

o-pagan snared bottom larkin
belief in mist: a correct Ms.