In the latest issue:

The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

Jane Miller

The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

Piketty’s Revolution

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

ExplanationD.J. Enright
Vol. 3 No. 4 · 5 March 1981


D.J. Enright

200 words

It develops like this, you see. The things called hands
Which terminate in fingers, which terminate in nails,
The whole depending from arms. And likewise the legs,
Which merge into feet, from which emerge what are known
As toes. There you see a head. These parts grow together
Quite slowly, or grow one from another. As though,
It might seem, a loving care is somehow involved.

A bomb, as they term it, is made of parts, quite slowly,
And with loving attention. It is then laid carefully
In places where arms and legs and heads are accustomed
To congregate. A loud report ensues, and the parts
Remarked on above are disjoined, along with a reddish
And lately interior fluid referred to as blood.
What has come slowly together is swiftly taken apart.

Why is this? It is because of something not to be found
Among these pieces, an item unseen, which perhaps has
Escaped. It is something described as a soul, or a mind,
Or (by transference) a heart, in which are present things
Equally invisible, called thoughts or feelings or likes
Or dislikes. Where do these troublesome elements arise?
Their maker is invisible also, and very hard to locate.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences