Enlightenment! poem – Luminary by Ann Atkinson

Luminary

 

 Set the scene with a full bright moon,

 note Flamsteed’s Crater in the Ocean of Storms,

 the impact; now think of the tide-swell,

 the collision and ferment of curious minds,

 a beginning, then, of modern times.

 

So at full-moon they come to Erasmus,

unfolding ideas like charts, maps to a future,

these friends – the maker of buckles, the potter,

the clock-maker working with minutes,

but dreaming of eons, engineers, mechanics,

 

and you, Joseph Wright, artist and witness,

 frame new perspectives, cast your light

 on these moments advancing the times.

 We think of you stretching your canvas, mixing

 a spectrum of colour, planning balance and form.

 

Those intimate nocturnes – faces, keen and alight,

 drawn close by the candle’s flame; and there,

 a lamp is the sun, and the orbit of planets, moon,

 demonstrates an eclipse; in the foreground,

 another – the dark silhouette of a child.

 

 There, is the clamour and heat of the air

 in the blacksmith’s forge, a glimpse of moon

 behind clouds; and the same moon shines

 as the Alchemist kneels, like prayer, and gasps

 at the instant, the phosphorous flare.

 

You write from Italy, wishing John were there

 to see Vesuvius redden the sky, say

 that he would think deeply into the mountain

 while you skim the surface, the glare in darkness,

 the moon floating palely over the bay.

 

John is our clock-maker. He explains the heave

 and uprising that opened up strata, like pages

 recording the layers of time. You paint him,

 pen and diagram in his hands, a smoking volcano,

 the image you choose for the power of his mind.

 

You give us your views in the changing light,

 Arkwright’s Mill, Matlock Tor, Dovedale

 by day, by night, and the stories you frame

 come like news from your time. You set these scenes,

 the storm and the vision of these luminous minds.

 

Ann Atkinson: Derbyshire Poet Laureate: 2009 -11

Luminary was commissioned to celebrate ‘Faces in the Crowd: Joseph Wright and Friends in Georgian Derbyshire’, an exhibition at Buxton Museum & Art Gallery from 5th March to 30 May 2011. 

Ann Atkinson was Derbyshire Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2011 and before that Poet Laureate of the Peak from 2008 to 2010. Her book From Matlock to Mamelodi: 5000 miles of poetry is available from Ali Betteridge, Literature Development Officer on 01773 831359 or email alison.betteridge@derbyshire.gov.uk.  Ann’s pamphlet Drawing Water is available from Smith/Doorstop.

Advertisements

3 Responses to Enlightenment! poem – Luminary by Ann Atkinson

  1. Joseph Wright is here! One of my favourite English painters of the period. I love the word equivalent you paint of one of those memorable paintings – all going on in Derbyshire!
    _______________________________
    I love:

    Those intimate nocturnes – faces, keen and alight,
    drawn close by the candle’s flame; and there,
    a lamp is the sun, and the orbit of planets, moon,
    demonstrates an eclipse; in the foreground,
    another – the dark silhouette of a child.

    An Insight wonderfully seen

    ________________________________
    Another lovely word picture I like is:-

    unfolding ideas like charts, maps to a future,

    Profound concept

    Thanks so much for this poem

  2. Hello Peter,
    I’m glad you enjoyed the poem. I’ve forwarded your comment to Ann, as I am sure she’d love to read your feedback.
    Thanks,
    Anna

  3. Hello Peter,

    Sadly Ann Atkinson passed away last month after a short illness and I was never able to pass on your message to her, but as I said, she would have loved to have read you comment. I know that she will live on through her poetry but she will be very sadly missed – I really enjoyed working with her on the Enlightenment! poetry commission and I think Luminary sums up this period in Derbyshire wonderfully.

    Anna

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: