George Szirtes for Remembrance Sunday

 

 

 

Chorus from The Returning

 

We are the people, the nation and the state

We are the inscriptions, the documents

The declarations, the pomp and the circumstance,

The structures of being, the bedrock of commerce

The official face of the face in the mirror

Listen!

 

We are the people, the nation and the state

We are the stamps you must lick, the forms you must fill

The dues you must pay, the creditor at your door,

We are the duplicate, triplicate, quadruplicate infinitude

Of all you must say once, then twice and again

Until you have said it to our mutual satisfaction

Listen!

 

We are the people, the nation and the state,

The statues in squares, the graven monoliths,

The bones of survival, the blindfolded judge,

We are the corpus of the corporeal

We are your heroes, your champions in the field

We are the field, the grass and the meadow

We are your long and terrible shadow

Listen!

 

 

 

 

George Szirtes published his first book of poems, The Slant Door, in 1979. It won the Faber Memorial Prize. Has published many since then, Reel (2004) winning the T S Eliot Prize, for which he has been twice shortlisted since. His latest book is Mapping the Delta (Bloodaxe 2016).  For more information: http://georgeszirtes.blogspot.co.uk/

Note: This is the last chorus taken from an oratorio titled The Returning, about the end of the First World War.

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