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

The Inequality Engine

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

A Sequence of Sorts – Three Albanian FolksongsFrank Kuppner
Vol. 10 No. 20 · 10 November 1988

A Sequence of Sorts – Three Albanian Folksongs

Frank Kuppner

197 words

One foot on the second-top step of the small flight
Of stairs which lead to the door of her fine house,
The other on the third, the very old lady
Stands, staring dead ahead, clutching the railings.

At one point in my tortuous, interrupted walk
Linking up all the second-hand bookshops I know of
In this city which I visit too rarely,
I pass by her, guiltily, without speaking.


Where a few paths converge at a pedestrian crossing,
Two young women with astonishingly similar heads,
In quite different and equally astonishing coats –
Twins, clearly – arrive just in front of me.

I slow down, to be able to follow them
Between two lines of pink-white-blossom-shedding trees,
On a path where, in the last century, a jawbone was discovered,
Which perhaps once gaped in wonderment.


The carton of chilled apple-juice, which I bought
In a small cellar-shop, not far from Holyroodhouse,
Which royalty departed centuries ago,
Before a sudden thunderstorm altered my plans,

I cautiously open and take a sip from
In the evening, in a small untidy room
On the other side, more or less, of an unwide country,
While three children play, far away, in the garden.

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