tate gallery
Tate Gallery

Magical Mystery Tour

Gavin Ewart

Part One

Surely I remember?
The coach that look the Sixth Formers
to see the Blakes and the Impressionists and the Post-Impressionists
and the Cubists, and the sculpture of Rodin?
Van Gogh's chair, Modigliani's wonderful peasant boy,
Beatrice addressing the Likely Lads from the car,
the Simoniac Pope?
Surely, I remember.

Fifty years ago!
And now I go back to see The Ghost of a Flea
so well remembered, and The Man Who Built the Pyramids
(forgotten – if seen) and James Ward's Gordale Scar
and Maillol's three nymphs with identical leg-lengths
and a marvelous sunstruck outburst of Turners,
all as potent
as fifty years ago.


Part Two

But there's a lot new there, to see,
and in Nineteen boxed-in Thirty Three
they'd have blushed red to know
such a pubic Delvaux
and the sculpture would quite spoil their tea -

while one painting, The Sword Of The Pig,
shows in detail what leaves of a fig
were once much used to hide
(though Blake's drawings tried) -
a male organ quite lifesize and big!

And McWilliam. His Eye, Nose and Cheek
would have boggled the minds of the meek
who were after Burne-Jones
and his temperate zones
(not Picasso, that two-faced old freak!),

likewise Warhol's repeated Monroe,
Arman's shaving brush Venus, would go
near to making them mad,
and they'd surely be glad
to leave Lichtenstein – WHAM! BAM! what woe!

They'd be mystified, as by George Smiley,
bye the abstract arcane Bridget Riley -
and go straight as an arrow
to the construct by Caro?
I don't think so,. Though we rate them highly.

Still there's the trompe l'oeil fresco/frieze
where in past years they served all the teas,
Rex Whistler's pastiche!
Now it's red wine and quiche -
but the whole lot is what you can't please!

tate gallery
Tate Gallery

Gavin Ewart (of Scottish descent) was born in London in 1916. He has worked as a salesman, as a publisher, and as an advertising copywriter, as well as for the British Council. His poems are contained in two books, The Collected Ewart 1933-1980 and Collected Poems 1980-1990. He has written three books of verse for children - the latest being Like it or Not. He is the Editor of The Penquin Book of Light Verse, and in 1991 he received the Michael Braude Award for Light Verse from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Next book: 85 Poems (Hutchinson, Spring 1993)