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Saturday, 11 November 2017

Athens: Acropolis Museum







The Archaic Acropolis Gallery

"Even when (if?) the Acropolis Museum is built, there will still be a void at its heart, because the greater part of the Parthenon sculptures, those which are in the British Museum, will not be in it" -

Sir Michael Llewellyn Smith, "Athens" (Cities of the Imagination, Signal Books, Oxford, 2004) - highly recommended - I am using it as my cultural history/guide book whilst in Athens.

The last poem Thomas Hardy published during his lifetime (The Times, Christmas Eve, 1927):

Christmas in the Elgin Room
British Museum: Early Last Century


‘What is the noise that shakes the night,
And seems to soar to the Pole-star height?’
– ‘Christmas bells,
The watchman tells
Who walks this hall that blears us captives with its blight.’

‘And what, then, mean such clangs, so clear?’
‘– ’Tis said to have been a day of cheer,
And source of grace
To the human race
Long ere their woven sails winged us to exile here.

‘We are those whom Christmas overthrew
Some centuries after Pheidias knew
How to shape us
And bedrape us
And to set us in Athena’s temple for men’s view.

‘O it is sad now we are sold –
We gods! for Borean people’s gold,
And brought to the gloom
Of this gaunt room
Which sunlight shuns, and sweet Aurore but enters cold.

‘For all these bells, would I were still
Radiant as on Athenai’s Hill.’
– ‘And I, and I!’
The others sigh,
‘Before this Christ was known, and we had men’s good will.’

Thereat old Helios could but nod,
Throbbed, too, the Ilissus River-god,
And the torsos there
Of deities fair,
Whose limbs were shards beneath some Acropolitan clod:

Demeter too, Poseidon hoar,
Persephone, and many more
Of Zeus’ high breed, –
All loth to heed
What the bells sang that night which shook them to the core.


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