Monday, 29 August 2016

Prose as poetry

I once watched a BBC television series by the historian Simon Schama. I don't remember its title but there was a scene that I do remember vividly. It was when Schama wandered through the dilapidated remains of an old synagogue. He ponders on what it used to be like. I found the prose so poignant and poetic that I transcribed his words. (The line divisions and punctuation are mine.)

At first it seemed like a place of utter desolation.
But then I saw the stylised angels' wings,
Hovering over the ceiling.
Out of the dust burst the colours.
The blues of heaven;
The reds of the kings of Judea;
The rainbows coming through the glass.
And then, amidst all this absence,
I began to sense the presence:
The cantor's chant;
The murmuring banter.
And there in the gallery the women;
And below the men in silk hats.