THE POETRY OF BILL HOPKINS: A SELECTION

By Bill Hopkins

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XANADU

The name of a mythical nowhere place

where impossible dreams may be enacted

is commemorated in double doors

of delusion

and windows awry

that portray

- in abstraction –

the magnificence of its happy madness.


CLAUDIAN LANDSCAPE

The terraces, ruined castles and waterfalls

always featured

in the romantic eighteenth-century landscapes

of Claude Lorrain –

but which nevertheless

      goaded Turner to jealousy –

are derided here

in abstraction,

guying the calculated formula

behind the ‘artless’ picturesqueness.

 

It is the god-humoured joshing

of one artist

by another.


HEROIC HEAD

The helmeted and visored structure,

referring to the classical images

of all legendary warriors

from antiquity,

in this case

ironically encloses emptiness.

 

The work poses the question:

“Was there ever anything more?

Is heroism only on minstrel’s lips,

and the actuality

      an emptiness of fear?”


SOFT PERCEPTIONS

An insect-like construction

staring out interrogatively,

it is also inward-looking.

 

A dominant force

held in a stasis of reflections,

it offers a sphinx-like air

by offering itself for appraisal,

but

at the same time

appraising too.

 

In green bronze,

we are offered an enigma

in waiting and expectancy

without further explanation.


SALUTE TO HENRY MOORE

(For Defending Brian Willsher’s Work Against the Authorities)

In this sculpture

commemorating his bruising encounter

with Government bureaucrats

            in 1968

who declared outrightly

that his work was not recognised

as sculpture,

Willshire savagely gives

      a Behemoth’s mask

to all bureaucracy,

incarnating its idiocy,

ignorance and brutality

in an indelible image.


THE PRINCE OF WAR

A classic work

combining the symbolism

of martial leadership,

war and heroism

pensively compounded

in an unfurled & flowing flag

of bronze,

interrupted only by a rapacious megaphone

given to oratory;

exhorting patriotism,

self-sacrifice,

destiny, and etc.  




Born in Cardiff in 1928, Bill Hopkins was one of the proverbial ‘Angry Young Men’ of the 1950s and, most notably, author of the stunning anti-humanist novel, The Divine & The Decay . These poems were selected by Jonathan Bowden.