The Endless Column

This is Simon Miles’s poem submitted for the third Yates Club of Oxford open poetry competition which won the Grand Prize (Ecstasy Award) in 1988.

The Column of Eternal Remembrance
by Constantin Brancusi

Endless Brancusi, I pit my reverence against you:
This column of yours, that has no conclusion.
You planted it, fashioned around an idea’s unseen marrow,
The timber, hard and cured; sawn, shaven and raised.
Its summit has become beyond sight,
Yet you suggest it still, into the far-above.

Alone you’ve achieved the spine’s kingdom to the full extent,
Aphoristic of the vertical: by your hand, in hand with God,
Your final assault.  The accumulated effort is in your arms,
Unswayed by the clamour, will not be worn.

You’ve gained complete clearance from this earthbound stave
That has us shackled to the ground.
This is your over-sight, whose only summit is the sky,
The incontrovertible emphatic around which we turn.

Each vertebra worn smooth and made by you
That stands against the weir of time itself,
Accepts no counter-act, is on its own account our aerial
Toward all that we reach: it is pure climb.

Our Jacob’s ladder to consciousness:
Impels our vigilance, monument beyond the means of words,
Your certainty attained in its aspiration to the upright.
Omphalos of our age.

Having seen you, your arms that wield the saw, attend now.
Your column of eternal remembrance will resist,
Endless and endless, endless and endless,
Until it scrapes the base of heaven itself.

Simon Miles

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