Spring Forward at Blenheim Palace - Valerie Mendes
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Spring Forward at Blenheim Palace

For John Richards: Clock Man Extraordinaire

The swinging of the pendulum exactly marks the time:
Precise, intense, immaculate, he checks the hour’s chime.
A second out? Two minutes on? Then something must be done
To sharpen up the reckoning until the battle’s won.

Today a pair of Blenheim’s hands will reach to alter time
Precise, intense, immaculate, it’s worth the slippery climb.
He nods approval, springs ahead to stroke another face:
Gold-plated bronze – that ormolu must win the beauteous race.

The tick! The tock! The chiming! The ringing of the bell
The marking of each minute, the timing of the spell
It casts on Blenheim’s gardens. It’s later than you think
We’ve lost an hour! Hurry! We’re on time’s very brink …

And yet he changes nothing for the chorus wakes at dawn
Whether or not the drawing-rooms tick matching. Swords are drawn
In time to fight another day. Church bells their peals ring
Spring forward must we anyway … and to our futures sing.