Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Old Asylum



Corridor. Hellingly Asylum, Sussex by James C Farmer
 

Figure Eight, 1952, by Franz Kline

Seed, parachuted,
drifts aimlessly on passing breeze,
upon a lull descends
amidst the grass and tangled weeds
that strew the paths,
choke the very heart
of the Old Asylum grounds.

Time stands still,
the clock unwound upon its tower
hides amongst the chestnut trees,
and some way below,
the door, chained,
keeps its secrets locked inside,
defiant, repels (for now)
Ivy’s attempt to stranglehold, invade,
as she tries to squeeze her tendrils
through decaying slats and shatter glass.             

Elsewhere
corridors echo eerily the slightest sound,
paint peeling curls upon the walls,
leaves its angry scars
as it flutters wearily to the ground
to join dust and dirt and debris
dropped from gaping ceiling.

Life stirs,
bristles in the old abandoned ward,
spiders spin fine thread from spinneret,
a window chink lets in solar rays,
lights up swirling silver dust heaven bound
and bedsteads rust upon the ground
as fly struggles in spiders sticky web
and in the roof space
wasps nest nestled in the eaves emits a buzzing sound
as pigeons coo and play
perched high upon the rotting rafters.

Seed, parachuted,
drifts aimlessly on passing breeze,
bees dip thirsty tongues in flower hearts
sing gratitude with pleasant hum,
wood pigeon cooo-coo-cu in chestnut trees
as nature breathes its love of life,
takes refuge in
the Old Asylum.

Anna :o]

Tess’s prompt at The Mag was that of the Figure Eight and spiders eight legs immediately popped into my mind.  Prior to the prompt I had been taking a trip down memory lane, viewing abandoned asylums on Flickr and had come across the hospital where I did my training and the resulting poem was a combination of the two.

The poem is also entered at Open Link Night, hosted by Joseph Hesch at dVerse~Poets Pub.  Thanks Joe!

ATTENTION!  ATTENTION!

Totally remote from the above please view this YouTube video “Som Sabadell flashmob.”  Wonderful!  (As no-one has mentioned this I have highlighted it!   Please, please, please view it - it moves me to tears every time I do.)

Image; courtesy of James C Farmer at flickr photostream.  (I did not do my training here!)

27 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

Old asylums are nearly always remarkable buildings, at least the ones I have seen. I wonder if the architecture had any effect on the people inside them. What do you think?

Berowne said...

Beautifully descriptive, and rather moving...

Wayne Pitchko said...

very nice.....thanks for sharing your words

Brian Miller said...

wow...very nice...can you imagine being in an old asylum...the memories would probably be stiffling the lingering energy

Filip and Kristel said...

This Asylum looks a very special place. Isn't it dangerous, it looks deserted. Great picture.

Greetings,
Filip

Tess Kincaid said...

I'd love to spend an hour or two with my camera in this old asylum...

Tumblewords: said...

Vivid and spellbinding.

Dave King said...

This brings back the darkness of these old places. You capture it well.
Superb write.

Dr Erhumu - twitter@drerhumu said...

Nice, you took me through a virtual journey of the Asylum. By the way, are they still called Asylums?

Daydreamertoo said...

Phew... what a lovely amble. I felt a bit like to ivy, trying to find a way in. If those walls could talk, what stories they would tell. I loved all of the vivid imagery in this, all the way through there was something happening to capture us in to wanting to know more. I had thought it would be a creepy tale but, was so glad you left it as just another old building, left to rot and to the creatures it now gives homes too.
A truly ovely read. :)

brenda w said...

Gorgeous and descriptive. I love your personification of ivy.

Anders Woje Ellingsen said...

Buildings are over-estimated. (✿◠‿◠)

▲ A ▲

Victoria said...

Wonderful visual images and the picture you paint of the asylum is so evocative.

Claudia said...

love how nature takes over and help the old asylum to new life again..

Luke Prater said...

Very atmospheric. Stunning pen-womanship. Very tidy piece... get it published...

ayala said...

Nice piece !

Grace said...

Nice capture specially the first and last stanza mirroring each other ~ Very well done ~

Old Ollie said...

You created a wonderful atmosphere.

manicddaily said...

This works very well with the prompt - and is, as Old Ollie, says wonderfully spooky and atmospheric. k.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for your kind comments folks.

Jenny ~ old asylums are nearly always remarkable indeed, some quite grand in appearance yet somehow daunting. As how perceived by patients; I would think upon first admission they would be fearsome strange places and how they felt once there would depend how they were received by staff.

Asylums became home to many and there was a certain awful feeling of security about them. Upon their closure often ex-patients eventually became homeless and took to street living and alcohol. Care in the Community – an illusion for many who had spent much of their life in institutions.

We have three such folk in the home where I work who had become street dwellers and alcoholics once their ‘home’ of a psychiatric hospital closed…

Brian ~ if I had visited my old hospital before it was demolished I am certain I would have been stifled by the memories…

Dr Erhumu ~ those that still exist are called psychiatric hospitals and were so when I did my training many moons ago…

Daydreamertoo ~ it was my original intention to talk of past ‘ghosts’ but the poem went its own way…

Luke ~ thanks, your suggestion means a lot to me.

Anna :o]

Bee's Blog said...

A sad, forlorn building devoid of human life but beautifully described with your details of plant and insect life. Beautifully written.

Jaideep said...

Like it, I am your 99th follower! HiFi!

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks Bee and Jaideep for your welcome comments.

Anna :o]

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Asylums had varied effectiveness, but when Pres. Reagan closed them all in the 80s to "mainstream" those with mental disorders, he did so at the cost of the health and safety of thousands who became instantly homeless, who were preyed upon by bullies (and other insecure people). Now they call the short-term type the "Behavioral Science Unit" (or "The Bin," in my experience), and at least for the time you need it, you have safety - sometimes from yourself.

Anna, thank you for bringing a tragic beauty to this scene. Also, thanks for the Flashmob, which made me laugh AND cry. Peace, Amy

Anonymous said...

Three generations of my family have been patients from WW2 asylums to the latest 'centres' (can't call them hospitals apparently).

One thing I found was that whilst the old hospitals were large, they were nevertheless 'warm' in feel, with the brick and institutional colours.

Now we have buildings with huge glass atria which frighten the life out of me. I feel overawed and stunned. There are straight lines and square corners and none of the little flourishes of architecture of the old asylums. Oh, and television screens everywhere - is it really not possible to have anywhere you can sit quietly in a hospital?

Contrast the Victorian asylum with its strict rules about the front door and windows not being overlooked from the road and perimeter walls no more than 6' high with modern hospitals with windows visible to the public and surrounded by very high ugly black mesh fencing reminiscent of prisons and internment camps, sending out a negative message that the inmates are dangerous.

The asylums left a lot to be desired but we're replacing them with buildings that are less friendly.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks SLP and Anonymous for your welcome comments.

Anonymous~I would agree that old asylums left a lot to be desired, and yes indeed these wonderful new 'purpose built' buildings are devoid of compassion from those who work within them (and do often resemble prisons from the exterior).

Anna :o]

kkkkaty said...

Having known someone who live in a place like this, I've been hesitant to describe that world and do it justice...you did a remarkable job....Snake Pit revisited...