Poetry Shelf connections: Bernadette Hall’s ‘the landscape of longing’


the landscape of longing

in memory of Gerry Melling, poet and architect 1947-2012



I shall explain herein the arrangement and symmetry

of private buildings from the position of the heavens in respect of the earth,

the inclination of the zodiac and from the sun’s course


just the cold left now like a smooth glove on the top of my hand

though the joint between my fingers is still warm


an object under the eye will appear very different  from the same object in an open space       


think of the shell as part of the architectural setting, a shallow canopy

over the Madonna who, with her child, has been gathering raspberries


the injury which nature would effect is evaded by means of art


take, for example, the more tensile forms of tiny fish that dart,

a little more weighted with their body mass,

more straightforwardly down, slewing side to side like footballers

shaping new subtleties of line to distract the eye


it is the part of a skilful (wo)man  to consider the nature of the place, 

the purpose of the building and the beauty of it


think of the falcon and the falconer,

of words in circular and ovoid shapes like the seventy-one

cervical vertebrae that held up the neck of the plesiosaur

think of Beethoven’s Quartet No. 15 in A minor

think of the Sky Box overlooking the West Bank in Wellington

think of Gerry and Geoff and Celeste and all the other beautiful people



Bernadette Hall


italicised text taken from the writings of the Roman architect, Vitruvius 80-15BC



Bernadette says:  Here is my lockdown poem. Some of the lines have been floating around for a while. I’ve long wanted to write something for Gerry. How good that this week Geoff Cochrane and Celeste should join him.  I’ve no idea who Celeste is. She appears in one of Geoff’s poems. She sounds beautiful. All I can say is, here’s to love and friendship, they are timeless. And thank you to all who are working to keep us all safe.













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