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  • Monique Sliedrecht

Eyes Up



Last Friday evening I had the privilege of going to an evening of poetry and music in Gorebridge just outside of Edinburgh. And what a treat of an evening it was. A magical offering of poetry read out loud by the Liverpudlian Poet himself, Stewart Henderson, and music by Yvonne (and David) Lyon. The collaboration and content was very moving somehow - an example of the best effect art can have on the human soul.


Many of the poems and songs have stayed with me over the last days, including the poem ‘Eyes Down’, which was commissioned by, and first broadcast on, Good Morning Sunday, BBC Radio 2, 2015. It could be more relevant now than it ever has been and really struck a chord with me in the event of recently running out of battery on my laptop, having forgotten my charger at the studio, and the surprising feeling of freedom and rest that brought me in the evening - to look around me, to notice. Seeing it first as a frustration and disadvantage, I quickly came to realise how liberating it was.


And today, on walking to the studio, I took the opportunity to look up and saw the Crags and bright Equinox sky. Immediately a verse came to mind….’I lift mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help?’


It’s a good question.


Surely not from the smartphone.


How much are we missing when it comes to inspiration for our art, for our lives? All these free gifts from the universe.

As Stewart writes in A Poet’s Notebook, referring to his poem, 'Eyes Down', "Outside we were being given glory without realising it, and, in a manner, ignoring and squandering it." (p.21)


EYES DOWN

"We are the eyes-down generation

tapping on apps and icons,

scrolling for signs and wonders,

cradling our tablets of capricious stone,

our soothing and desolate slabs

with their images of singing kittens

and shrouds on beaches;

an indiscriminate kinetic canvas,

a potpourri gallery of

the deplorable and the frivolous.


We are the eyes-down generation,

and… Bingo!… If we follow this link

we will have won something…

Really?…?…How generous… how crooked..

Beware - pickpockets operate

in this touch-screen area.


We are the eyes-down generation.

But if viewed from above,

how do we appear?

A cloistered congregation on buses?

Hunched-over mystics on trains

wired-up for solitary, sing songs

and numbing news?


We are the eyes-down generation

pining for glory

and mourning for our looted innocence.

Meanwhile we do not hear the untethered clouds

as they chorus to us… pleading…

“Look up… look up and consider…

all this has been entrusted to you…

so that you do not look down.”


On this day of the Spring Equinox and eve of the Super Moon, let us not forget to look up!

Who knows how these ‘live events’ passing in front of us can impact our art, and our souls, not to mention the people around us.

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© 2020 Monique Sliedrecht