Friday, February 23, 2018

Enemy Territory: a Poem from 2005

Another poem from my archives. Most of the poetry I wrote at this time is dismal, but this one is not too bad, although the final line owes quite a debt to Louis Macneice's "Prayer Before Birth".

At this time I was an agnostic, and an increasingly alienated conservative. My view of the modern world back then was even gloomier than it is now!
Enemy Territory

Don't let them tell you, whatever you do,
That nothing the dead believed is true,
My child.
Never be won and never be reconciled
To the truth of tarmac and television screens.
Hold fast to the ancient scenes;
The mother and child, and the empty country road,
And the boy alone with a book, and the wedding ring,
And never stop remembering
The world that you never saw, and what is owed
To ghosts and silent voices. Fight alone;
And rather break your heart than make your heart a stone.


  1. Definitely something I like about that one

  2. Yes, the sentiments this articulates have been mine for as long as I can remember! Another reason to be glad you have kept your archives.
    A lot of people have taken the second path in the last line.

    1. They haven't always been mine, it took a while to get there for me. You have the blessing of healthy instincts!

      I think there is something to what C.S. Lewis says in The Weight of Glory: "“In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence."

  3. This poem made my mind hark back to an empty country road... also came opportune for other reason.