Kenneth Slessor

(27 March 1901 – 30 June 1971 / Orange, New South Wales)

Nuremberg Poem by Kenneth Slessor


So quiet it was in that high, sun-steeped room,
So warm and still, that sometimes with the light
Through the great windows, bright with bottle-panes,
There’d float a chime from clock-jacks out of sight,
Clapping iron mallets on green copper gongs.

But only in blown music from the town’s
Quaint horologe could Time intrude . . . you’d say
Clocks had been bolted out, the flux of years
Defied, and that high chamber sealed away
From earthly change by some old alchemist.

And, oh, those thousand towers of Nuremberg
Flowering like leaden trees outside the panes:
Those gabled roofs with smoking cowls, and those
Encrusted spires of stone, those golden vanes
On shining housetops paved with scarlet tiles!

And all day nine wrought-pewter manticores
Blinked from their spouting faucets, not five steps
Across the cobbled street, or, peering through
The rounds of glass, espied that sun-flushed room
With Dürer graving at intaglios.

O happy nine, spouting your dew all day
In green-scaled rows of metal, whilst the town
Moves peacefully below in quiet joy . . .
O happy gargoyles to be gazing down
On Albrecht Dürer and his plates of iron!

Submitted: Thursday, April 01, 2010

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