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COUGHTON HOUSE COMMISSION 2013

CABINET OF CURIOSITIES

 

© Helena Cavan, 2013 Coughton Cabinets of Curiosities, for Lady Mary Ann Acton Miniature portrait.

1,000 Words

A story never spoken, in a language
few understood.  Letters
never formed in embroidery stitches,
never hidden in diaries, never sold
in celebrity papers of three births,
a widow by 24, comforts in a lover.

Her story tucked easily into the pocket
of a heart nearly 50 years her elder,
who secured papal dispensation to worship
such youth,  such tenderness, such devotion
in his niece.

 

Elegant Mystery

It rhymes with “pew”
you’d never guess,
how women used
to avoid the stress,
of leaving church
by treading on toes,
to visit that place
Everyone goes. 

 © Helena Cavan, 2013 Coughton Cabinets of Curiosities, for Porcelain Bordaloue.

© Helena Cavan, 2013 Coughton Cabinets of Curiosities, for Porcelain Bordaloue.

 

© Helena Cavan, 2013 Coughton Cabinets of Curiosities, for illuminated manuscript.

Illumination

Budding forest of red and gold,
summer green, Royal blue
plentifully decorated leaves
frame lifetimes of dedicated flow.

Hourglass of strokes,
pigments as grains of sand
perfectly measured, hidden
mistakes as purposeful as the life
devoted, poured out for

Illumination.

 

Journey of Heart

I’m a relic with a story
and travels all my own,
I’ve been on a little pilgrimage,
found myself a home.

Some time ago I was taken,
seventeen miles away,
but I’m so old, I can’t recall
the details of that day!

All I know, is that here I am,
near the oratory door, 
a cut-collage, the entourage,
of a Lady and the poor.

 © Helena Cavan, 2013 Coughton Cabinets of Curiosities, for The Dole Gate.

© Helena Cavan, 2013 Coughton Cabinets of Curiosities, for The Dole Gate.

 
 © Helena Cavan, 2013 Coughton Cabinets of Curiosities, for Tabula Eliensis

© Helena Cavan, 2013 Coughton Cabinets of Curiosities, for Tabula Eliensis

Recusant’s Record, Capitol of Capture

Lyrics in letters and named passport pictures,
famous record-tour-theme-song.  
Cast the mood, let recusant anthems roll
in silence, spinning blood red roundels.

Various gigs in Ely, Banbury and Broughton
met deathly hostile audiences.  Capitol of Capture,
British underground chart topper, unbeaten
rebel-leitmotif just keeps hangin’ on.

Sound of defiance, refusal, objection, 
this record’s an assertion of fidelity,
THE manifesto of Rebels with a cause
to die for, pledging allegiance to a crown.

Protective sleeve, Iconic cover artwork
Elizabethan-Levi-Strauss-style, 
THE collection of singles on display for pre-view, 
for Mass, remembering which side they are on.

 

Storage for Secrets

Keeping secrets is most successful
when secrets are forgotten.
Storing treasure is most effective
when treasure is out of sight.
Devout practice is most sustainable
done in secret, treasured night.

If mirrors hide truths, not tell them,
and riches are concealed behind craft, 
the heart of their matter survives
by the paten, and the chalice, 
and the altar hiding, 
in safety of mahogany light.
 

© Helena Cavan, 2013 Coughton Cabinets of Curiosities, for Mass Cabinet.

 

© Helena Cavan, 2013 Coughton Cabinets of Curiosities, for Throckmorton and Herbert Commemoration Window in the Drawing Room.

Lattice-Paned Storyteller

Lattice-paned storyteller begins our tale
on the first day of the Happily Ever After.
“Let us a garland bring! Delicate flowers,
ripe cornucopia for bride of thirteen,
and groom, four years her elder.”

From the looking glass we’re told, 
“A golden scroll is opened, see
Palladian garlands in emerald and gold, 
trussed in velvet, studded with pearls,
all laud for the union of Peers and of Catholics, 
the joining of chevron and lion!”

Abruptly ending in stone cold silence, 
the storyteller’s voice now is rasping,
in lament of “the happily” only lasting four years,
and a widower coming of age.
 

 

Vanitas

Right side, left side, soft crown in black cap,
black over-robes white, 
white figure-of-eights caps black.

No chains of status, no two-letter acronyms accompany golden letters, 
conveying tales of courtier, 
Queen’s cousin, religious rebel.

Left side, right side
ritual object in liturgy held, 
symbol of authority, skin
protection in every clime.

Right side, left side
hard crown, tarnished cap
memento mori tells the whole story
(remember that you and I will die).
 

© Helena Cavan, 2013 Coughton Cabinets of Curiosities, for Sir Robert Throckmorton painting.