Bill Herbert

December 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

The Library of Bronze
variation on a theme by Orhan Pamuk

One night all the statues of Burns
came to life at the one unannointed moment.
There was a worldwide squeal of necks
in doubletake at where he found himself,
then down he stepped into small towns
so far from understanding
they hid in their houses as he clanked down
thin streets looking for a bar or garage
serving some kind of necessary oil
and wishing he had been equestrian.

Part-Talos, part tale-teller,
he habbied through fences and forests,
fording single oceans in a series of rhetorical leaps;
part-author, part-Terminator
he flyted unquaking Shakespeares
and clasped the hands of a legion of Pushkins
before congregating in the town of his birth,
all its flesh inhabitants having fled
beyond the toughened tourist fence
to sell tickets and telescopes.

And there the statues lived in promiscuity
with fridges and washing machines,
meeting nightly to compare
verses scratched on the bonnets
and in the windscreens of cars
cannibalised into their vast library,
each written in bronze’s incomprehensible dialect –
undoubtedly addressed to you, his rusty fiere,
but, as they debated, could these all be by
the same awoken Bard?

First published in Split Screen edited by Andy Jackson (Red Squirrel Press, 2012)
also to be published in Bill Herbert’s own collection, Omnesia (Bloodaxe, 2013)


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