The squirrels in the previous post were photographed in St Paul’s churchyard, London. Like the ones I remember from the parks of my childhood, they were very friendly and keen to be fed by the tourists.
Nearer to home there are wild squirrels who visit and use the flower pots on the patio as storage jars for their winter supplies; they are not at all tame – which is why I couldn’t get closer for the next picture – but they do seem to have learned their kerb drill:October 20th was the anniversary of the birth of Christopher Wren, so it seems appropriate to make another post connected to his great work, St Paul’s. I made a brief visit there on a recent trip to London and sat in the churchyard, where I watched the squirrels and began planning a poem.
Usually, I sketch out a poem in my head and can remember it well enough for the days it takes to work out the knots as I walk or wait at the bus stop etc. (This method probably goes a long way towards explaining the overly heavy iambic meter of much of my writing – it’s written in time to my walking.) Once I’ve got a decent chunk of the piece working in my mind, I write it down and work at it again.
This time, although when I left St Paul’s I had what seemed like the basis of a good poem, it got lost as I crossed London on the Tube in the rush hour.
I am left, then, with something that is not at all what I planned or hoped for:
At St Paul’s
the churchyard trees grow tall; their roots
tap charnel wealth and city histories
swell their sap.
Pearled clouds frame the Saint’s raised hand:
he blesses flower-bright leaves that thread the air
with gyring gold.
Here, in dank shade, fitful silver ripples
start and stall as squirrels nip and scuffle
The post title – a nod to Edward Lear’s “old man with a beard” – promises “some squirrels”, but even the semi-tame ones were mostly too quick for my photographic skills, and I’ve already posted the few half-decent pictures I took.
Lear had a tendency to re-use the first line of a limerick at the end, but I didn’t want to close with a reposted photo, so I went looking to see how I could connect the threads together. It was with genuine pleasure, then, that I found this page on the British Library website with an illustration Lear made of a Javan squirrel.