In 1998 Stuart Henson collaborated with artist Mark Bennett to make a book that paired each of ten original drawings with a poem…
‘With one exception, the poems were begun as illustrations to the drawings—each an attempt to find a narrative analogue for the moods and tones of the picture. The link is always the Moon, whose steely light shines from the drawings into the poems.’
Moonlight. The clear white chill of the moon.
And the owl’s call, woody and long and hollow
across the chimney tops.
Night silence. Bristling like unused tape.
A hedgehog coughs in the shrubbery.
A shrew declares its shrillest hate.
Inside the hall the long-case clock’s
insomnia. Tock. Tock. Tock. Tock.
excerpt from ‘Nocturne’ (Clair de Lune, Shoestring Press, 1998)
The Fourteenth Earl is shivering,
in what the Americans would call his tuxedo,
at the lip of the fountain.
The moon is cold as justice, broken in lights:
his life in little white fragments,
winking leerily. The guests at the party
are guzzling, gossiping, fornicating
with reckless abandon: a dance through
the twilight of the aristocracy.
His mind fuddles. When did they start to be
this huge parody, this backdrop for a costume
binge shot lovingly in endless episodes
and financed by the fashion industry?
There was a girl once. He remembers
her white body. She laughed at him, decamped
with his money—or what was left
after the courts and the divorce, the bouts
with the vulturine attorney.
A nymph beckons. To reach her he must swim,
or wade at least. Her marble kiss
thrills through his teeth. Tomorrow the police
will halt their cars on the gravel.
The warrant will prove unnecessary: the last
of the guests will have dragged him,
sack-like, into the buttery, leaving
anonymously before the questions start.
Leaving the long wet marks on the floor and
the green shape of a man on the dew-soaked grass.
Clair de Lune, Shoestring Press 1998
32pp paper staple bound
ISBN 1899 549 23 4
Images © Mark Bennett 1998
The original run of 500 copies is now sold out.