Extracts from Anthelion

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Anthelion, 1996


It is where I am gone,
where I am in nothing placed
entombed in another world
alive with beguiling thoughts
of memory and distaste
and as guilty as these thunder clouds,

it is where I am gone that holds my mind
and makes this time a misery
as less than useless now…

What few days I have,
but it is now, I know,
where I am gone to now,
where I am in nothing placed,
entombed not in your world
but as alive as absurd
under London’s cinematic skies
that aren’t its own and rarely mine
enclosing frailties like madder wines
and as the steering rudders,
calms this awfulness
that’s magnetised with me
along this putrid and uncertain tropic
ordained by an old and moulding mind
that mothers me like fiction mothers pain,
and blast this sun
this planetary heat that has me squint
on this midday of a Monday that feels
like the autumn of a clay village
under the shadow of infallible ziggurats
emptied by insanity and disease
sparing a hornless, hoofless goat
bemused by hunger,
crippled under a heavy sun
and I will escape this sleep,
into an ecclesiastical museum
to recline behind the statues
I built out of my mind
with nothing but a cruel intrigue
and a solemn humour, medicined by mirth,
so I’ll shed this hurt
as if I spied the raging cyclops
looking for his other eye
when a vehicle dripped
from the spherical sky
to knock him flat
as a house of cards
and he held his only eye
and shrugged a curse,

“Bugger, one eye will do,
I saw a lot less with two.”

“And I shall wear a monocle and a purple patch of silk
swaggering, dejected, in, like an indifferent buccaneer
stranded on sea legs in a boatless port and be drunk
with coarse cut marmalades and sweat whiskeys and pork fat.”

It was then that a skeleton of a horse rapidly galloped
clicking like an old umbrella tapping down Piccadilly
quite white and smooth like an old lady’s tooth
and with an orange mane that flowed
like the fire found in still photographs,
or as icicles of water towers,
but since my Love lives in the old red town
I climb beech trees and poplars to look beyond the towers
to paint sour colours in dark clarets
and hunch like a goat with a stiff neck,
or as a unicorn curled up on a peninsular beach
smoking a fat Greek cigarette,
conducting smoke with my manicured hoof
I am resigned, orange as a dragon
eating blueberries from a long tin ladle
whistling scriptures and Beethoven
to infant eagles in their nests
for we can not wash clean the world with tears
and nothing’s new but older fears
conversing with occasional joys,
and so I’ll swim a dance
at the marriage of my friends
or spin like a fan’s rotating blades
circling in one’s mind
if I were more than real then I’d be dead
iamreal iamreal iam i
like pistols in banana groves

“Best go to sleep my friend and make the doctors smile at Bart’s.”

And then you’d stare at naked judges
swilling poison sins in Chancery
on bare back ornamental donkeys
in the fog that Dickens told us of
more than once on a well leafed page
in Bleak House, my old Bleak House
which entertains a gathering of metal sharks
and angry hogs with bristling brows
grinding my mahogany, with a fierce delight
like ghosts enjoying amber jellies and a palets de boeuf Dunois
all before the darkening carcass of this youthful buffalo.

My head is growing more than hair
like dogmas growing mockeries of men
as headless parrots tickle pears in bowls of fruit
in my Bleak House, within the fog that Dickens told us of
and Cardinal Richelieu has three hats and more
than a marvellous collection of red robes

“Of which I am envious”

“But I will wear clouds Accumulo, parted on the left
and trail a crimson scarf coiled around my abdomen
like thorns that leave their bloody marks
on minds of men who built us mental roads
within the mazes of our minds
to show us more if we should fall
or gallop along like horses in a violent storm
plundering evils with a cleansing scimitar
like horses in a violent storm
and fill the skies with a roar that rumbles
tears from from monks and holy men
in archives of the Seine, the Arno and the Nile
who shudder in the torment of their pious lives
like violent horses in a storm,
and all the skies, rip incised
to show the fire flames behind
with a madness to make these cities squawl
like violent storms in horses
dragging darkness in their atramentous manes
sweeping from the sky into our minds.”

I am not alone
and can not further hold my images in words
for Mothers and Daughters do walk in,
eternal messengers of love and medicine,
maybe it is better for us all
as now I stroll in unending gardens
domed as bell jars in silent open skies
Open Sesame
calmed by refreshing moons
and moving words in conversations
with courtly lizards, I play them whist
with a handful of diamond trumps
and a heartful of happiness and peace
that unfurls like flags of saffron silk
uncurling in this southern wind
to treat me with a fleece of golden air
where I can sculpt the sky with a comic glance
and cure your tiring pains and mine,
for there is only more
than madness and sadness
there is only more than time
and there is more than word and mind
for there is more than silence
and if not silence, there is always wine
and women of the aether kind
who’ll paint the sky with freak and friendly lightnings
whilst I orchestrate these thunders to rage throughout the sky
or I’ll colour in all the empty stars and join them up until I die
for I am an orchid with an hexagonal mind
gasping, since it still is never done;
it can not be done for there is no end.


The tiring lights of ceaseless change

‘And the first greys of morning filled the East
And the fog rose out of The Oxus stream’,
as riverboats on the gleaming silver sheet
with Juggernaut by Embankment’s tide
creaking barques within the Thames
by Albert Bridge as cold as Shelley’s fate
then I am irate
this April morning of the Thames that has no ghosts
of fizzing lights mourning in my mind
for now is the only story
now far under spherical skies
it’s more than writing words you see
and now until I am quite tired
of mystery and ritual
in fabricated stars
and like the water under moons
and like the water moons
or towers smoking fumes
of pyres before my time
of mirth in mind
and a strolling frame cut from light
and falcons casting waves of wings within my eyes
as purple berries twisting stalks, in vigil
of three candles floating fires
of jasmine flowers,
at night, in flames on a wax meniscus,
as landscapes of Claude Lorraine
abstract in oval mirrors rowing quiet tomes
of skeletons in flesh at night
dictated to by an unknown might
on the ivory kneelers of an ebony board
that clicks by a double clicking trap
arranged in plan for thirty two,
for a meeting at the end of Lent
where a pascal lamb was slaughtered
for our guts
and Burgundies and German wines
and sugared almond nuts
and guts of lamb
are scattered on the floor
like unremembered jokes
and unrequited love

and lanterns cease to raise the dead
when friends are witnesses to friends

“Bang Ran gangly dun”
“Bang ran gangly dunh”
“with an extra h.”

Henry Virgin is a writer, artist and photographer based in London. Having studied the Philosophy of Religion at London University, he taught in Rostov-on-Don, South Russia in the late 90s and in Guangdong Province South China. For the last twelve years, he has been working, in different sectors, with digital imagery and graphics. He is currently working with a leading architecture and design studio.

His writing has been published in the Independent, The Moth Magazine, The Highland Park News and the Pasadena Star. His Poetry books ‘Anthelion’ and ‘The Glass Aubergine’ are available on Amazon along with his travel journal ‘Teaching in Tangxia.’ Other works are in the production pipeline, including his first completed novel ‘Exit Rostov’ and a collection of his earlier unpublished poems, ‘RAW.’

His video projections have been shown at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, The Serpentine Gallery in London, At the 2014 and 2016 Venice Biennales, with the ICA, Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Dongdaemun Plaza in Seoul Korea, Tel Aviv Israel, Dubai UAE, Miami USA, NY USA, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, DAC Copenhagen.


Henry Virgin wrote the poem ‘Anthelion’ in 1996. Set out in 13 canzoni, it charts the tale of a wandering voice, through the streets of London, out of town, over oceans, continents, deserts and mountain passes. Love, and the lack of it, is ever the guiding light. Experiencing an array of characters and situations, the protagonist ventures forth, determined to reach his goal. Part soliloquy, part love poem, part spirit flight and invocation, this lyrical abstraction arouses the soul with a sonorous flow of visions and ideas. Blending insight and humour, this poem will delight and astound you.


All Material Copyright Henry Virgin ©