Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Artwork by Paul Peter Piech. Words by Issa. © the Estate of Paul Peter Piech
Clouds are half-conquered. A cloud hardly ever
strays into the office nowadays. When one does
it can still be dangerous. The chairman
or office boy (clouds being quite classless)
will swivel round, dribbling cloud.
But that is exceptional. Generally
clouds can be studied through double glass
safely, or mounted on slides, That way, they contribute
to model-building. Some foreign planets
have their own 'cloud-cosies'. Certain animals crop cloud.
And when, rarely, a cloud comes mooning
against your window, you may see the white hairnet
of its blood vessels, or the clenched white brain
(which is often shadowed). At those times apply techniques
of cloud-dispersal. So far is death like Orpheus.
John Thomson, d 1618
You would have to know where he lived,
how his croft clung to a hillside
forty times its size, on sufferance.
To stand under meteor showers
and northern lights, under a sky so vast
it swallowed his voice,
to see daily the breathtaking sweep
of hills, green and purple breakers
of surging stone,
to hear the ravishing inhuman voices
of birds, water, wind. You would need
to look out from his land,
where the ocean glitters beyond what eyes
can bear, the view he shared with no one,
to understand John Thomson,
who, long ago, was strangled for seeking
the stable’s warmth and, with soft words
of comfort, making love to his mare.
I’ll never understand nor want to know
the pity of a song I’ve not yet heard.
Why would I slice my finger on a cracked
pane knowing only a drop of blood
would mark this hand? I am so near
the edge of knowing why one apple
falls before the crop and why a maggot
eats into the core of this one fruit
and not the rest. At night a water-lily
opens up. If I dig my fingers into soil
I’ll find a worm that is afraid of separation
only half a secret remaining.
Sky now reddens to trap night.
In your last letter you used the word beautiful.