Frome XVI | Andrew Hirst

The revolution is coming to Chin –
it will begin inauspiciously enough, through
nursery tales, paper lanterns strung around
the garrison at evening. But make no mistake
names will be re-named, dynasties finished.

It’s too late, I’ve missed my chance –
I was reading one evening from Li Po
– it was the middle of winter and snow began
to slowly muffle the rattling lime leaves
in the avenue outside and just for that moment
the whole wretched thing became clear.
There’s little chance of us ever seeing land again,
I won’t comfort my daughter when she weeps,
that, easily divided, we were so simply made
fools of or happily made others to look like fools.

Then I glanced down at my book and it was gone –
illustrious as they are, again, these were merely words –
history flattened out into something done by someone
else to something else, mutterings beneath
an upturned collar under the chipped brown moon.

From the poem-cycle Frome I-XXIV (Longbarrow Press, 2007-2008). The Frome pamphlets can be ordered here. Listen to Andrew Hirst reading this poem: