Monumental Sound

Ian McMillan - 26 October 2010

I've been out and about these last few days; I'm lucky enough to be a judge for the Landscape Awards so I visited two contrasting places, the Heather and Hillforts Project in North Wales, and the Mersey Basin Project in Liverpool. Both the places were fertile ground for poetic ideas, from the café in Loggerheads Car Park to the longish walk in the mist up by the hillforts and a car park that was being restored to look like a hillfort to the glimpses of the valley through the mist in Wales, and in Merseyside the almost heartstoppingly beautiful sight of Anthony Gormley's Another Place in the sands by the Mersey.

Another Place is Gormley's title for his series of figures that look out across the estuary waters, and which, since they were put there in 2006, have become amazingly popular with locals and visitors.
What I love about Gormley's work is that, even if the pieces are huge like The Angel of North is, or larger than life size like the figures dotting the Mersey sands, they somehow remain very human. My favourite Gormley piece is one called The Field that, coincidentally, I saw at the Tate Liverpool a few years ago: it consists of thousands of little crudely-constructed figures, with basic faces, just staring at you accusingly across a vast space.
I thought of those figures as I stood on the sands, with just the sound of the wind in my face, and then I thought about the iron-age people who had constructed those forts in a version of the same wind (after all, the hillforts are only twenty miles from the Pier Head as the Liver Bird flies).
And it's often windy in Wombwell.
Here's a draft of a couple of stanzas, and a scotch is a Yorkshire word for a smack.

FRIDAY SOUNDS, WOMBWELL
Iron age hillfort sock stall /Slap of wind from somewhere/Old somewhere where the sound//Of money hand to hand, sound/Of the wind's scotch, of the mouth's/
Harsh reyt nivver sithee sock stall

Comments:

Oh whow I went to this site below and saw the sculpture that you are talking about http://shapeandcolour.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/antony-gormley-another-pl...

Being so close to the sea all my life it certainly created some mixed emotions - it was the inevitability of being swallowed by the sea...

You touched on it, facing the wind. Have you ever tried to describe in words the silence you 'hear' during a proper 2 minutes, as today, Armistice Day, at 11 o'clock this morning?

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Glossary term

Sestina

A form that uses six six-line stanzas, each using the same six words at the end of its lines in different orders, followed by an envoi of three lines using two of those words to each line. They tend to be written in iambic pentameter, and without rhyme.