I’ve written about hangars before, the large industrial structures built to house airships. To me, these sheds are just as impressive as the crafts they protect. I tried to convey their incredible size and reverberating interiors in “Hangar”, the opening track of the upcoming album, Airship. In addition, I have written a little experimental poem on the theme. (Who knows, perhaps I’ll publish a little booklet of dirigible poetry!) I wanted to describe the airships as reluctant occupants of the colossal buildings, their soaring spirit of freedom as earthbound and restless within:
Steadfast sheds of metal,
Structures proud and bold
Sheltering the zeppelins,
Splendid to behold!
Silently they loom
Safe within the walls
Spirits of the boundless blue
Sheltered in their halls!
Inspiration from Cardington
The genesis of Sheltering Airships was the poetry of airship enthusiast, Trevor Monk. A resident of Bedfordshire, England, home to the ex-RAF Cardington sheds, Monk has written a number of informal poems about lighter-than-air flight. Favourites amongst these include a comical limerick about a scatterbrained blimp named Billy, and The Cathedrals of Cardington, a dignified ode to the local landmark hangars. I particularly enjoy the latter for its imagery—the scale of the doors, the vastness of the interiors, the vision of the buildings as industrial cathedrals:
The Cathedrals of Cardington
By Trevor Monk
They stand looming from the fields of Bedfordshire,
Proud structures of a time long passed—
Their mighty doors on tracks move steadily.
A beacon of home when travelling—
The sound reverberating from their cavernous halls,
Airship engines roar under test.
Their vast bulk impressive from afar,
Unbelievable whilst close;
Girders of steel like pillars
Supporting the roof of unbelievable height.
These are truly ‘Cathedrals of Cardington’,
Standing almost Gothic in industrial form.
More than just a box,
More than a collection of girders and sheets,
Elegant giants of old.
Long may those cathedrals of Cardington echo
To the choir of airship engines!
In response, I wrote Airship Hangars, borrowing heavily from Monk, the first draft of what eventually became Sheltering Airships:
Airship Hangars (working title)
They stand looming in the fields,
Structures proud and bold.
Their mighty doors on tracks of metal,
Sentinels of old.
Within, the airship engines roar,
Echoing off the walls,
Chanting an industrial tune
In the stately halls.