Long Ago and Far Away

Long, long ago and far away

In a distant time and place

Where kings and rings were crowned and forged

And Frodo’s friends went out

To trek and quest,

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Before the armoured vest and pepper spray enforced

And when men took long hours along the highways;

A three days jaunt for instance going to Bicester

From barely distant – in a Phaeton – Leicester

And cheery women wending taking much more ease

Because they would wear wimples

And on their ways they stopped to pluck

Their fancy’s herbal simples

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But men forthwith being dashing and decisive

Maintained their broad baronial saddle chairs

Wore genial sure airs

And few Yahoo barefoot did go of lesser kidney

Than Roland, Oliver and excellent Sir Philip Sidney

Or Charles the Great or Mingus the Unknown,

And narrative in those days carried forth likewise, proponed

And made no bones

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Wrote celebrated names and fames, sensual romances

Deep in a greenwood happened under forest roofs

And, oh, this accent seems a sainted age ago

So distant and so alien like Australian snow

Unrealisable except for strong imagination

Suppose, propose, there did unfold a world like this….

Perhaps on PlayStation?

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Or in corny corner-house a TV spilling yarns

Where Richard Greene and Roger Moore strode out and fully armed

As dreams of yesterdays

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Rummage for entertainment ransacks this generic store

Takes Troy or Marathon or Douglas Earl of Mar

And blends in legion hybrids, intermingles innovations

A halfway house between Olympus and of-late dilations

Amalgamation’s superheroes; combat US style

New avatars prefiguring a curious Brave New Isle

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Then there is Thor or Odin, Romulus or Mars

Similitudes of whom, as if on open platform

Strive raising dusts interminable in internecine wars

The fighting super-guy then moves, saving the day, it’s curtains

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He’s nothing, first, the enterprising villain makes his hay,

Exultant glories; Hector crowing over Teucer’s smarts,

Tall tales for too-small people push these brother picture shows

Brash bright and bringing home on-stream a gorgeous steely glow

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A theme once owned is internalised

A dream once shown is personalised

Part of that outward music of our social tuning

Part of an inward rhythm answering self-communion

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Now enters space and Sci-Fi, rare celestial themes

Virtual extravaganzas, Golden Age amphetamines

Where olden sagas mash up into futuristic frays

Stirr up to simmer to a plenipotent broth

Famous endeavour interleaving do and dare

Whipped like a soufflé; taut, exotic, debonair

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Star Wars or Alien; Space the Final Frontier,

Take us away from paydays and the stubborn rentier

Life’s strains are growing pains soothed by elixirs

Mixed shooting ships with Argosies and casts of extras

And bring in Neverlands heat-seeking here to happen

And given room they consummate all things, all passion

Here in your chair, you hear, can share, anarchic frisson

Fair fancies far away; from an electric Heaven

        ****************************

Now Heaven has appeared, another proven comforter

Perhaps a garden paradise, tree-lined, with stirring breeze,

But always distant make-believe feigns its uncommon fief,

A foreign body, in a far-off spiral, on its left

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And there are only these amorphous imbecile card figures

Cushions between us and the next seat on the crazy bus

That can flick up that fable-switch minding our sanities

Turn-on and focus, scatter fascination’s vibes and vanities

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Great overthrows by geeks on glorious gory highs

In Shangri La’s of Spanish El Doradoes,

Elysian Fields where heavy demigods destroy;

Who never were, nor are, shall never be

One megalomaniac supplemental donkey-doo

To make life’s torpors bearable

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Contrariwise the chemical reaction

The lighted match, the froth puffed out your soda can

Or bubbling water boiling on a stove back ring

The multifarious host of everyday ephemeral bits

No bottom’s in them; custards do not run amuck and slay

Whole garrisons at one stroke wielding highly-sharpened steels

Nor are great hordes left slaughtered – all by orange peel

And no-one’s ducked or strangled using cotton wool

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Such plain urbane inanities yet get their rings of power

That fright a fear one may appear, show up on-screen,

Discovery’s disillusion to our rude enjoyments –

Blotting those easy, cheesy, cinematic dissertations

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Apprehension so much presses hard on moviemakers

Those fakers of upheaval

One mobile phone its sweet ringtones – oh house of horrors!

Splay, shatter –decimate – created auras

Effects worked-hard for, vigilance painstaking

Has scoured the edit rooms for wrecking balls

The smallest incident mishap, vitiates the cultured pearl

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Bust, cracks the bubble, everything’s upset

When Arthur King of Britons features careless gaffer-tape

Eyes left, right there, on Lyonesse’ great conflated plain

Clear in full sight of viewers… handyman’s remains

So search the shows, don’t let one go, no-eye glaze-over

Get all things sacred pristine clean, the full makeover

Be all resolved

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There lives no history, is hid no mystery, in gaffer-tape

No rose romance fills septic tanks, washing machines

Too real; too everyday; anachronistic

But more than this, mundanities, too much below-stairs

All sorts of modern clutter of the late torrential range

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Too real, too real; to appeal to a mystique

A mashed potato, or a parcel due next week

Only away is holy, distant times on stranger shores

Only by wandering ways we’re pleased and so redoubtly shored

Who having low contempt for things we know and have

Accept as tawdry givens; dull familiar usual rags

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Nothing’s enchanting, hooks to grab, nor moves to awe

When testy insides rumble because battle blows inure

All’s hot dissatisfaction – faerielands go wan, unravel  

Present like homely objects, objects women prattle

But dense in metaphor, and of no brittle coin

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Objects Our Lord thought good enough to be his schooling

In which to cast sweet brilliants; flowered on people; mining

The jewels of ample simple truth set beautifully:

Those roots in nature warranty that reach inside

Articulate the dumb and deaf; no schemas, no free rides

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Native objects inordinately full; yet men inveigle

Cast caustic eyes, closed off from sight to see;

As much untouched as full of vacancy

Of taste mere must, dry dust, no filigree

Of fascination, consternation only meets with pique

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There’s splendour in a wave rolling a moving sea

A snowstorm’s spate’s delighting, powder white

The regular continuance of a softly ticking clock,

When in a room alone, and not another sound,

Surrounds of stillness setting the established ground….

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Are all enthralling calls, whose thought ought to recover

Restore, and more, to open up, discover

Contained in mundane things their range of succour

Inklings invisible

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Put you your hopes on, and run forth, uncover

His love affair with simple stuffs and commonplaces

View clues, heave loud halloos, come to awakening

All’s mews, and avenues, to educate the imagination

Of what might be, and certainly within sure speculation

No mastery of great control, no implemental usage

For uses’ sake alone, a plume of revelation parcelled,

As if broke open minds to mark the humdrum’s common marvel

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The texture of the spruce and eloquence of myrtle

Hid underneath a palimpsest to breasts unfolds

What narrative beneath here lives to be supposed?

What wonder staggers too much to be seen and shown?

Like Moses’ passing image of the Lord’s backbone

And loaned as witness, ours from time to time

By quiet meditation contemplated, line by line

By reason reasoning excavated, what is trussed and stayed

Beneath our bullish brief appearances

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A buttress there robust sat on the cusp of knowing

As if an engineer at engines, or man of labour stokes

Aboard an ocean liner, works below decks, ocean ploughing,

Applying hands to warrant here adheres continuation

No passenger may see, and only pith’s ingenious depth

Perceives these labours’ furrow

Divines a hand dispenses, offers flame and frame, to template.

Thus this cruise

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Accrues to all things temporally sculpted

This globe’s a globe because fit tools have shaped it;

Love’s implements have variegated surfaces and corners

As He were Michelangelo and hung from ceiling ropes

Dispensing colours, composition, animation’s verve

And yarely gluing all through cause effect notation

His work a composition orchestrated

A paean adulating His designed Creation

The nine spheres only hear and echo in formation

After His baton

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Not just the superstructure’s braces, but the pattern

Upholding in remoulding, always bettering

And always rivetting

New aspects, vantage points, in transit centuries

For Time, His workbench, ever serves him patiently:

Noted well anciently

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The Hebrew nation noted first the dark beyond expanse

(Empiricism, positivism, vast existential haze)

Circled the square and saw that here we stand a thing amazed

And felt the glorious satins of a closing winter dusk

A beauty unaccountable and unexplained, on trust

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The Grecians likewise guessed in sad Prometheus Chained

Both as their wages foresaw Christ, Ancient of Days

His coming; and his discourse of the commonplace

Plain given terms, like grain and water, shepherds, bread, and fish

In these He wrapped his messages, his mysteries

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Nor soared nor rose in mind above such solid sundries

Not one pretension in his tooth or toe He should desire

His speech to all he spoke answered to no regard

To office, standing, influence; always heart-centred

Men’s selfhoods showing; His interrogating pith

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No superhero acrobatics, no designer suits

His epithet is lowly, holy by renown

We know and honour Him, His coming as contingent man

Empirical, positivist, well-documented man

In history more recorded than Anaxanimander

Or Pericles or mega-crazy wanton Alexander

Whose vows and shows, and rows we are assured ensured of

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And here’s but One rose from the dead returning endless grace

The Underwriter of all things; His great arms underneath

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