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Tony Grist

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Clergy Conference [Nov. 23rd, 2008|11:06 am]
Tony Grist
This picture comes with a poem attached



I was at a retreat for members of the Deanery clergy, sometime in the early '80s. One afternoon I went for a walk on the hills above the retreat house (which was later sold to the footballer Phil Neville) and took my camera with me. It was lovely weather when I started out- as you can see-  and then a storm blew up and I got very wet. It's no joke being caught out on the hills in bad weather. Especially if you're lost- as I was. You could get yourself killed.

Anyway the heart of the experience is in the poem,

                                    CLERGY CONFERENCE

 

                                    A soft-voiced bishop was speaking to us

                                    In the music room.  It was stuffed with vicars

                                    Mostly in mufti.  A marble Venus

                                    Standing in roses up to her hips

                                    Gazed in at us and a little stream,

                                    Tipped from the hill, went clattering past

                                    Down a stepped cascade.

 

                                                                            When the session ended

                                    I found a path.  There were purple shadows

                                    On ochre fields.  There were bones of sheep

                                    In the tough old grass and a barn or two

                                    With their roofs knocked off.  When the storm grew over

                                    I hadn't even a coat to keep off

                                    The beating it gave me.  I came back down

                                    With shoes full of water.

 

                                                                             I'd missed the session

                                    On urban mission.  A god as loving

                                    And hard to pin down as the city council

                                    Had not been much to my taste in the hills.

 

                                    It's not that the rainstorm broke my faith;

                                    That took much  longer.  It's only that after

                                    The conference I could remember nothing

                                    The bishop had said.  I had only the droning

                                    Mellifluous tone of his voice to counter

                                    The shout of the cascade under the window,

                                    The roar of the rain and, after it stopped,

                                    The slap-happy sound of a hillside, drinking.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jubal51394
2008-11-23 01:01 pm (UTC)

I am usually impressed with what you write...

I really, really, really LOVE this!
"The slap-happy sound of a hillside, drinking."
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-23 01:37 pm (UTC)

Re: I am usually impressed with what you write...

Thank you.

That's a line I'm proud of. :)
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2008-11-23 02:42 pm (UTC)
That, sir, is really a GEM!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-23 03:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2008-11-23 03:10 pm (UTC)
Of all the poetry of yours I've read so far, this is the best. It's full of the senses and even sense.
:)

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-23 04:00 pm (UTC)
You think so?

I'm glad you like it. I guess it's one of my most personal pieces.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2008-11-23 04:15 pm (UTC)
Maybe that's why I think so. I find that poetry detached from self can be very good technically and even interesting but it has a hollow sound in the end. This one is good not just in form and style but also because it communicates something, as you say, very personal. At least it did to me.
:)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-23 05:00 pm (UTC)
It's a profound mystery where art- any art-comes from. When a poem wants to be written it more or less writes itself. I just sort of guide it along.

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[User Picture]From: brttvns
2008-11-23 04:04 pm (UTC)

I have much admiration

for your writing. This poem is packed with both the tangible and intangible, and contains some enviable imagery. Perhaps it has affected me more than it would as I have just been caught in a storm in the Welsh hills - I may attempt to post my photos of today.

Wonderful poem.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-23 04:07 pm (UTC)

Re: I have much admiration

Thank you.

It can be pretty scary up there on the hills.

I look forward to seeing your photos.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2008-11-23 05:58 pm (UTC)
I had only the droning
Mellifluous tone of his voice to counter
The shout of the cascade under the window,
The roar of the rain and, after it stopped,
The slap-happy sound of a hillside, drinking.


I want to see this one in print, too. The rhythm and sound of that last line is perfect.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-23 08:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

Yes, I'm rather proud of that last line. :)
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2008-11-23 09:40 pm (UTC)
Wonderful, wonderful poem. I love the last stanza particularly.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-11-24 10:24 am (UTC)
Thanks.

I always think the last verse of a poem is the most important.
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