Monday, July 4, 2011


Architecture - Dom Moraes (1938-2004, Absences)

The architecture of an aunt
Made the child dream of cupolas,
Domes, other smoothly rounded shapes.
Geometries troubled his sleep.

The architecture of young women
Mildly obsessed the young man:
Its globosity, firmness, texture,
Lace cobwebs for adornment and support.

Miles from his aunt, the old child
Watched domes and cupolas defaced
In a hundred countries, as time passed.

A thousand kilometres of lace defiled,
And much gleaming and perfect architecture
Flaming in the fields with no visible support.
I came across this poem while reading the info page of one of my friends who recently graduated from University with a Masters in Art History. In the first two stanzas the poem captures the feelings of a child grappling with their budding sexuality and the sexual yearnings of a young man through Freudian architectural metaphors. In the last two stanzas the meaning of this, for lack of a better phrase, double entendre is shifted so that the longing becomes more spatial and temporal and the architectural references additionally take a physical form. Men, driven mad by 'the architecture of women', defiled and defaced them across the world while at the same time doing so to the monumental structures they represent. This unique feeling of pathos and longing that this poem conveys reminds me of the Czech word Litost but at the same time I can't help but think that some may look negatively at women being seen as cupolas and domes! 

After reading this poem, I read his Times Online obituary and I feel that the poem is auto-biographical as his childhood isolation and experience as a newspaper war correspondent are reflected in it. 

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