Len Webster's 'Departure From The City Of Coventry' - Poem by Len Webster
There must be some who have never heard of you,
though they be few and far between
or hidden in the shadow beneath Cofa's tree.
There must be some who looked up, agape,
at the buildings of the walls which were to house you,
or entered the hanging galleries of your daily life
with open eyes that did not understand.
And you would have tried to give them all,
had you all to give:
but you gave them something more than words,
which are all I have to offer.
Warlike darkness of the night hurled flaming iron
upon the city's people;
in the bitterest of struggles, art was submerged,
but not forgotten,
for somewhere lay that elephantine Christ
You came and watched the rebirth of a spirit
that bombs and theats had failed to kill;
you took it forward, framed it, loved it,
held a lamp for all to see by,
and those who saw were pleased -
thankful they could be alive
to watch the changing of the world.
So now you take your leave,
channel a way, the two of you,
back to the isle of great tradition
from where so many come, but few return.
Do not forget that the light you had still burns,
no longer in need of its basement shelter;
that elephantine Christ dwelling within the hearts of men
is open now to public view.
(Originally written in July 1972 as a contribution to
a farewell book of poems for John Hewitt, former Art Director of the Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry, who was returning with his wife, Roberta, to Ireland. Subsequently published in 'Open Forum',
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