Sunday, 26 January 2014

Central Europe

How admirable they are, these sober gentlemen
with their silver hair and patriotic moustaches,
their straight backs, their handsome, faintly malicious
smiles, their authority, their quiet gravamen.
They are assuredly the very soul of the nation,
who look to assure us and strive to look reassuring,
exemplars of uprightness, objects of admiration,
who have always been there and are the enduring
face of the people for which the nation has fought.
You couldn’t imagine them with a gun by a ditch
surveying a row of corpses, perish the thought!
They wouldn’t murder their despicable enemies,
they’d simply tidy them up like an unfortunate glitch
in the programme then straighten their sober grey ties.


Dennis Tomlinson said...

The smiling 'gentlemen', who could be part of an innocent celebration, do take on a sinister aspect when you see them next to the executed man. I can see that the caption is in Italian and the dead man's name is Battisti, but who knows what is going on here in a past era!

Anonymous said...

Cesare Battisti is being assassinated by the Austro Hungarian empire I think so I am sure GS knows what was going on so soon after a speech which should not have been allowed to be delivered happened in London.

George S said...

Yes, Anon, that's the story to the picture. But the image was a late choice at someone else's suggestion. The poem is the point and what it says is that this is what such gentlement lead to.

Gwil W said...

In Trieste they even arrested James Joyce's brother. Probably because his name was Stanislav or something similar. The general condition of mankind is madness. If you don't believe me ask Freud. It's no coincidence that he made his discoveries in Austria.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I had not seen the Tuesday post before I made my rather obvious point and should have said what a fine and sombre poem. It must never happen again.