Lucy Vickery

Pylon poetry

In Competition No. 2901 you were invited to write a poem in praise of a modern-day blot on the landscape.

Stephen Spender wasn’t praising pylons on aesthetic grounds in his notorious poem but celebrating the progress that these non-human structures embody: ‘There runs the quick/perspective of the future’.

The spirit of the 1930s poets — applied to those 21st-century gods technology and consumerism — was very much alive in what was a large and accomplished entry. It was tricky to single out just six prizewinners. Catherine Chandler, Tim Raikes, Bill Greenwell and Alanna Blake shone, but were narrowly pipped to the post by those printed below, who are rewarded with £25 each. Brian Murdoch pockets the bonus fiver.

Progress has led the human race unto
The plains of wickedness where we now live;
Vile, evil, sinful and degenerate,
Lacking our own moral imperative,
We can no longer tell what things are right,
But err in ethical despondency.
No guardian angels keep their eyes on us,
But we have been saved by Technology.
Break no commandments! They are filming you!
And they shall hold your image long and clear,
So think again before you kill or steal,
Lest you perhaps on Crimewatch might appear.
Complain not of the omnipresent eyes
Of our new secular society;
If there are no gods looking down on us,
We need th’ubiquitous CCTV.
Brian Murdoch
I think I’ll never see a tree
As fair as these displays.
All hail the billboards that adorn
Our towns and motorways.
Though nature has its vaunted charms,
The landscape and the sky
Are useless for alerting us
To wares we ought to buy.
Raise high the hoardings that obscure
Our view of lesser sights
And dazzle us with brand names wrought
In multi-coloured lights.
These are the totems of our tribe,
The icons of our creed.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in