Wednesday, 10 October 2007

You find this ugly, I find it lovely.

This morning I visited a client in King's Cross, for whom I'm building a web site (don't worry - it's not that sort of a web site: the client is a florist ;-). Walking back along Darlinghurst Road to the train station I saw the city council has been improving the tone of the area by inserting at random points along the footpath plaques bearing snippets of Cross history.

One of them featured a few lines of "William Street", Kenneth Slessor's 1935 tribute to the area: 70 years may have past, along with the ravages of heroin (or more accurately, the legal prohibition of heroin) and all that came with it, but like all truly brilliant poetry, Slessor's work could have been written this morning.

William Street

The red globe of light, the liquor green,
the pulsing arrows and the running fire
spilt on the stones, go deeper than a stream;
You find this ugly, I find it lovely.

Ghosts' trousers, like the dangle of hung men,
in pawn-shop windows, bumping knee by knee,
but none inside to suffer or condemn;
You find this ugly, I find it lovely.

Smells rich and rasping, smoke and fat and fish
and puffs of paraffin that crimp the nose,
of grease that blesses onions with a hiss;
You find it ugly, I find it lovely.

The dips and molls, with flip and shiny gaze
(death at their elbows, hunger at their heels)
Ranging the pavements of their pasturage;
You find this ugly, I find it lovely .

He's right, of course, and always has been. It is lovely.


Anonymous said...

I'm Doin This Poem For My Assessment task....

It's Pretty Good

Alcibiades said...

Good on you!
Tell your teacher if they don't give you a really good mark I'm going to tell the whole world how crummy they are ;-)