‘Redeem’: Poet Imtiaz Dharker’s Response to the Monument to Bishop Thomas Fanshaw Middleton (1769-1822) by John Graham Lough (1832)
by Imtiaz Dharker
To see this stone as it wants to be seen,
forget the colour
of the skin, scarred
and weathered to the bone.
In a trick of scale,
the man of god looms over
a diminished man and woman,
their bodies smoothed out, childlike.
Stone can learn
to be sentimental.
Marble can be taught
As you turn away,
hand becomes a bird of prey, poised
to swoop on souls that must be saved,
children of god
set in stone, the stone enslaved.
If you choose to turn
and look again
at the lifted hand, knowing no man
can make you kneel,
even this stone might raise its head
About Imtiaz Dharker
Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and video film maker. Awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014, her six collections include Over the Moon (2014) and her most recent, Luck Is the Hook (2018). Her poems have featured widely on radio and television, as well as the London Underground, Glasgow billboards and Mumbai buses. ‘Reading her, one feels that were there to be a World Laureate, Imtiaz Dharker would be the only candidate’ (Carol Ann Duffy).
About the Monument
Thomas Fanshawe Middleton (1769 – 1822) was a minister in the Church of England who became the first Bishop of Calcutta in 1814. During his time in India, he approved the Tamil translation of the Book of Common Prayer and in 1820, he founded Bishop’s Mission College in Calcutta for educating young men with a view to a future as missionaries and teachers. He died of a fever, probably caused by sunstroke, during one of his many journeys around his diocese. his monument in St Paul’s shows him blessing two Indian children. It was paid for jointly by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.