Let’s Talk Photography Ep.84 – The Circus Animals’ Desertion

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In this solo show Bart shares his experiences finding photographic inspiration in 2020. The show was triggered by a memory of a poem by the Irish writer W. B. Yeats.

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The Poem

The poem that inspired this instalment is The Circus Animals’ Desertion by W. B. Yeats.

Below are the excerpts read on the podcast:

The Circus Animals’ Desertion
by William Buttler Yeats


I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last being but a broken man
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.


What can I but enumerate old themes,

[a critical summary of his own career]

Players and painted stage took all my love
And not those things that they were emblems of.


Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

You can read the full poem on the Poetry Foundation’s website.

How I’ve Been Surviving 2020 Photographically

Rather than photographing different and interesting places, I’m photographing the ordinary natural world around me as it changes over time.

I watched the Snowberry bushes go from tiny pink flowers most people wouldn’t even notice to bright white berries over just a few weeks:

I also watched Elderflowers become Elderberries:

I’m trying to notice the little footholds nature gets in my suburban setting, and to keep a careful eye out for the unusual and unexpected, e.g.:

While I take most of my photos on one of my two daily walks, I make an effort to keep an eye out for unusually good light on my daily cycles. These are places I pass so regularly photographing them yet again usually feels repetitive and futile, but when the light or sky is special they take on a unique character that’s more than worthy of capturing and sharing!

Finally, on those all so rare occasions (between lockdowns) when I do get to go somewhere interesting (by bike) I make the most of it and try capture the place as best I can:

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