You are here

Hampton Court Shelter

Lee Harwood

That hue of light you find on a summer afternoon

when a rain storm batters the gardens, stitches the heavy river.

Like dusk but not.


You and I in a room set with windows overlooking that river.

A room panelled with large mirrors, long smoky mirrors

whose foxed glass reflects our dusky selves, maybe our ghosts.

And inbetween – the window seats and views of a flowing

                                                               watery world.


That this 17th century pavilion, built for privacy and banquets,

could have been where voyages were planned, trade calculated

and profit, much profit, inbetween the laughter.


That the elaborate maze-like gardens that surround this pavilion

are where people wandered talking,

are where we will soon wander in a fine rain

unaware of anything beyond, caught in the moment’s delight


as we weave our way through the flower beds, the sunken   


the arched corridors of wysteria, pergolas of laburnum,

honey scented lime walks, our myths and histories laid aside.

Floating in any century, timeless, we romantically imagine.


If the myths were put aside, and we… ?

Would the mirrors be clear and glitter?  a rainbow

flickering on their bevelled edges?     I doubt it.


“So what are you going to do

with the rest of your life?”


From Painted, Spoken No 6 (2003)

Explore more