In previous installments of "No Escape," we have seen some opine that, rather than pursuing the longed-for (but ever-elusive) Ideal Place, we should simply look around us. The following poem does not necessarily say that where we are is, in fact, the Ideal Place, but it does suggest that Right Here is not without interest.
Angle of Vision
But, John, have you seen the world, said he,
Trains and tramcars and sixty-seaters,
Cities in lands across the sea --
Giotto's tower and the dome of St. Peter's?
No, but I've seen the arc of the earth,
From the Birsay shore, like the edge of a planet,
And the lifeboat plunge through the Pentland Firth
To a cosmic tide with the men that man it.
Robert Rendall, Shore Poems (1957).
Robert Rendall (1898-1967) lived most of his life in Kirkwall, Orkney. He was in the drapery business, but he also wrote poetry and painted. He was a conchologist whose Mollusca Orcadensia was published in 1956. I found "Angle of Vision" in The Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century English Verse -- yet another discovery by the ever-diligent, ever-reliable Philip Larkin.
A "broch" is a stone tower that served as a dwelling. Rendall discovered the Broch of Gurness in 1929 while he was out sketching. At that time, the area was simply a large earth mound. One of the legs of the stool on which Rendall was sitting sank into the ground. He turned over a few stones and came upon a staircase which led down into the mound. Excavations were undertaken and the broch was discovered.