Another poem about things. This poet exults in the intimacy of humans with their things, walking on them, dropping them, nearly wearing them out — but to him, all that improves their appearance and even makes the things happy.
Since first publishing this poem, I have been prompted by Jody’s comment to add the photograph below, from Elizabeth Goudge’s beloved Wells Cathedral, completed before 1500, the steps to its chapter house since that time well “trodden by many feet and ground down.”
OF ALL WORKS
Of all works I prefer
Those used and worn.
Copper vessels with dents and with flattened rims
Knives and forks whose wooden handles
Many hands have grooved: such shapes
Seemed the noblest to me. So too the flagstones around
Old houses, trodden by many feet and ground down,
With clumps of grass in the cracks, these too
Are happy works.
Absorbed into the use of many
Frequently changed, they improve their appearance, growing enjoyable
Because often enjoyed.
Even the remnants of broken sculptures
With lopped-off hands I love. They also
Lived with me. If they were dropped at least they must have been carried.
If men knocked them over they cannot have stood too high up.
Buildings half dilapidated
Revert to the look of buildings not yet completed
Generously designed: their fine proportions
Can already be guessed; yet they still make demands
On our understanding. At the same time
They have served already, indeed have been left behind. All this
Makes me glad.