In the latest issue:

Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Indefinite Lent

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The House of York

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Secrets are like sex

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Caroline Gordon v. Flannery O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls

IronbridgeR.N. Allan
Close
Close
Vol. 5 No. 6 · 1 April 1983
Poem

Ironbridge

R.N. Allan

200 words

What great snout of ice
Once nosed through this gorge
I cannot imagine, but it left
Sabrina narrow-waisted for men
To span after their fashion.

Abraham Darby’s three hundred
And eighty tons of lacy iron
Make an elegant clasp now, but
The names of Coalbrookdale,
Coalport and Bedlam Furnaces
Still catch the throat with
Acrid smoke and the valley’s
A museum of sad defiant mills,
Like old men among the trees.

At Blists Hill they’re breathing
Life into substantial ghosts.
A monster possesses a brick shed
And raises and lowers a mine
Cage with an easy snort. A
Beam engine is stalled like a
Monumental bull and mysterious,
Circumjacent leviathans with
Grinning chevroned teeth await
Resurrection. In refurnished
Workshops, aging white-smocked
Craftsmen operate heavy tools
With remembered movements
Like actors in an old movie and
A toll house and cottage are
Anaesthetised under household
Wares that croon nostalgia.

It is as if life might escape
From its moments unless material,
And these are its presents,
Casting dense shades of mines and
Mills, of child-men and women
In this seamy, overgrown valley,
Redeemed with the remorselessness
Of creation by its cleansing trees
And flowers, its airy iron bridge.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences