Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Great concave Dome

Great Concave Dome upreareth high
His carved and golden symmetry,
'Bove this large area circular,
Round whose rich walls disposéd are
Sixteen marble columns tall,
each with golden capital
Crowning his creamy shaft -- and springing
From these same gorgeous capitals,
Lo ! sixteen Gothic arches flinging
In carvéd wings their decorate walls
All round the wide circumference
Of this rich Saloon, and thence
Ending in Moorish Frieze above,
And projecting Cornice wove
In richest Moorish fashion -- all
Its lower ridge of arches, small,
with pendant boss -- its upper face,
A Moorish fillet carved like lace,
And pushing up a cresting high
Of finials rising taperingly, Each ending in a golden star,
Twinkling ever, near or far,
Sith their bright galaxy surrounds
Our dome, and circleth all its bounds.
But, mild Orion! I do see,
That with watchful pleasantry,
On every star that there should shine,
A matchless brilliant thou hast placed,
Plucked from Golconda's mine,
Long ages past ! They have effaced
The golden beams, and flashing wide,
Their silver radiance, kindled fair
From million lamplets, all the air
Seems rife with starbeams, and the pride
Of planets this one night to roam
In circle charmed of Fairy Dome !

Above these starry lustres see
Ribs massive, gilded delicately,
Sixteen in number rising high,
Sustaining Moorish Cornice bossed,
And double-arched, and gradual lost
In concave rich expanding frieze,
Blending in its harmonies
Those curling leaves the ceiling rare,
Unfolded, waving high in air ;--
And that gay centre doth project
Downwards a glorious Pendant deckt
With golden leaves and flowers, and thence
Descends in chaste magnificence
Yon crystal Lustre's massive weight,
Graced by our diamond lamps of state.

Royal Oberon ! now behold
Between those gilded ribs how falls,
Broad relieved from out the walls,
That ornament unadorned with gold,
Expanded like a magic fan
Of open lacework, vast in span,
Or lamina of colossal shell
That deep in Indian seas might dwell ;--
But perforate with all Beauty's lines,
And ivory white, how grand it shines !
From highest cornice fair extending,
It cleaves its course, halfway descending
To yon charmed space where Orpheus on high
Pours his silver melody.
Through all our dome wherever space
Undecorate seems with sculptured grace,
Such partial spot is featly set
With diaper and gold rosette.

The "Richest Indian furniture" had been cleared away for the ball, and stored in upper chambers. No mean feat of lifting for the fairies! The weighty block of marble sculpture "The Listeners" had perforce remained in sted.

The description from the poem is, as avowed in its introduction, purely literal, each feature exactly described. 'But wherefore describe an Interior so minutely, a task which Poets omit as barren and fatiguing, and perhaps impossible?' Titania answereth : 'The area of Poetry is the Universe. From the far-off Dog-star Sirius to a hovel on the earth, all is within her domain. The true poet turneth all things into poetry, and Poetry dieth not ! My Palace shall escape the wreck of Time, for Lo ! I have photographed it in words ! '

Detail of early photograph showing that Francis Cook's lustre was not the same as that which appears in the photographs from 1929. The source of light for these diamond lights is still an unresolved controversy.

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