A portrait of the portrait gallery

Cathedralesque mausoleum.

The great and the mighty jostle in this place.
Here Darwin stares down Fleming
And there Victoria and all her progeny stand together.

Oh, look! A bust of Eliot by Epstein,
Two giant souls melded into one object.

Champions, statesmen, artists, actors, jesters, scholars and kings.
Whisper and hiss into the sterile spaces of the great halls.

We shrink into insignificance under the grandness of this place.
The earthy, neutral tones;
Subtle, reserved
Ensure that Churchill, W G grace, McCartney,
and all the other personages (most of them forgotten now, alas)
Get a chance to dazzle us with their superior importance.
And put us in our place.

The huge canvases and the giant photos make us feel little.
This is not a cultural centre.
It is a temple, where we must go to worship our betters.

And the only way to gain back self esteem?
Sheepishly buy a postcard on the way out.


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