MS (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

0009 Rococo Time

It’s part of the tourism thing –
you stick your nose, more in duty than in hope,
into the local church;
the flowers at least
may be friendly; the flower arrangers, busy..

you’ve been in churches which
as soon as you gently push the squeaky door,
frown on you, their fingers
to their lips, and point
to ‘Thou Shalt Not’ where you expected Jesus’ open arms;

and to vast cathedrals asking, it seems,
an unformulated question of you
in their overwhelming magnificence
so that you’d like to kick a pew,
scrape a chair, dropp a hymnbook,
to find out in the echo echo echo
how Nanny says you should behave;

but this one’s different:
as you step inside, it’s as if
the fraction of a second before that moment,
some huge song-and-dance spectacular
was in rehearsal, Busby Berkeley in full charge,
then ‘Freeze, kids…! ’ and all you see at first is
the lavish set: like a wedding cake, white as icing, giant size,
with a Technicolor sweet-shop suspended over it; while,
frozen in their extravagant body-language,
four golden figures beside you gesture, inviting you,
‘Come on in, you too are onstage now! ’;
these are no evangelists to tell you what
it’s all about; these are guys who know that you know too;
so of course you’ll want to join in, join the wedding party;
you were part of it before you knew you were…

you’ve read the essays dutifully before you came –
‘ this Rococo church is a typical example of
the desperate overload of frivolous and
meaningless detail that betokens
the last dance of a culture in decline; note
the curlicues like sea-spray, shells and wavelets…’

not so; not so; this is the joy of a Creation
whose every move and moment is all joy;
seaspray, shells and wavelets on that blessed shore
which hears the trumpets sounding on the other side;
which cannot find the time and space enough
to shout its joy in gesture, plaster, paint;
this is a church which people rush to enter
to sing and dance the joy of being themselves;
a church which smiling, happy people leave
and fill the streets with love;

this church like some expensive wedding cake
is celebrating, dancing at its own wedding; and why not;
this joyful church is celebrating
the wedding of earth and heaven
and all, all are invited.

by Michael Shepherd

Comments (1)

A Masterfull piece of Literary prowess, Michael. Once again you have demonstrated how a Poet must go one step further in bringing the Reader to the Poem. They must take the Reader within the Poem, have them feast, breathe and digest in the poem....Thats what you do...And thats what makes you the Artisan that you are. Sterling craftsmanship. '''''''''''''''''''''FRANK/fjr