London Walk No.43: Zebra Finches to William Blake

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Today I went to see the sweetest exhibition on in London, Céleste Boursier-Mougenot‘s guitar-playing zebra finches at the Barbican – closing soon, go! Unless you’re nervous of tiny birds, since they seem to have got used to humans and were actually landing in one man’s hood.
A wander out into the City led me to Dissenters’ burial ground Bunhill Fields, which for some reason I’ve never come across before. Cutting through, I noticed I was walking past a couple of famous graves:
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Daniel Defoe has an impressive obelisk, while this one is more modest:
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But it seems to have a selection of coins lined up carefully on top of it. I’ve never seen this before: anyone know why it is? Is Blake’s grave a sort of wishing well equivalent for fans of visionary poetry?

5 thoughts on “London Walk No.43: Zebra Finches to William Blake

  1. Stan

    The finches exhibition looks and sounds completely brilliant. I wish I could go — I wouldn’t leave until they had visited my hood.
    I had no idea what Blake’s grave looked like. The coins are a custom, I suppose. Oscar Wilde’s is covered in lipstick, Serge Gainsbourg’s in metro tickets. Someone starts doing something, others mimic it and before long there’s a tradition. Or maybe there’s a better explanation.

  2. Emma

    Yes, Serge Gainsbourg’s grave is more obviously a shrine, with metro tickets and pictures and notes all over it though – this just has coins on top, nothing else. Must have some meaning, don’t know what

  3. Helen

    Ah! Emma! I love your pictures, your musings… I have been looking at your work for about five minutes and you have made me laugh a lot and smile a lot. Which is a nice change from sneezing a lot.
    Thanks for being lovely and hilarious
    Love from New Zealand

  4. Val Erde

    I saw your post and went to look at the Barbican bird exhibition (online, it has to be said, as I live in Wales!) and was completely captivated by it! I love birds and thought, before I watched it how cruel this might be, but in fact I can tell that the birds are enjoying themselves immensely! They are very adaptable creatures. I blog about our wild visitors, sometimes. :)

  5. Frank Key

    I’m not sure about the coins, but as far as I know there are always fresh flowers placed at Blake’s grave, by whom I know not. Nor does anyone know the identity of the person who places roses and a bottle of cognac at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe every year on Poe’s birthday… though apparently neglected to do so this year for the first time since 1949.

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