David Perman

Let There Be Light

At night the oaks and hornbeams
of Post Wood sport an aurora,
leaking from the lights of London.
I always looked the other way
to study the night sky, or at least I did
until the Vicar installed floodlighting
to reduce the insurance premium:
“Let there be light,” he proclaimed,
“and there was light” – smugly smiling.

A third of the human race
can no longer see the Milky Way
because of light pollution –
and our culture suffers. What of
Milton’s “broad and ample road”
or Hera breastfeeding Heracles and letting
her milk stain the sky?
Not only culture – light pollution
cocoons us to our narrow planet.

In older, unlit times men and women
looked to the sky and acknowledged their place
in the universe: “when I consider the heavens,
the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars which thou hast made,
what is man that thou art mindful of him,
and the son of man that thou visitest him?”
As they say, light was the life of men
and not a device to reduce expenditure.

David Permanspent most of his working life as a journalist, first in newspapers then in the BBC World Service. He interviewed Mrs.Thatcher and the Ayatollah Khomeini and, more congenially, finished up as the BBC’s head of Greek broadcasting. He has written two biographies of poets. Scott of Amwell: Dr Johnson’s Quaker Critic and the life of a German-born refugee from Hitler –Stranger in a borrowed land: the life and writing of Lotte Moos. Publication of his own poetry began in 1997 with The Buildings(dealing mainly with his Islington childhood) from Acumen Publications
and branched out into A Wasp on the Stair, from Rockingham (2004). His latest publication is Scrap-iron Wordsfrom Acumen Publications (2014).