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Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Fifteen days from now

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The Yorkists

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Whitehall Spookery

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Gordon v. O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

Civil ServiceAnthony Thwaite
Close
Close

The government department is deserted
But all the lights are on. It lies below
The pavement, rises up, a stump of glass,
And all the lights are on, and no one there.
It’s Friday night, at nine. And why indeed
Should anyone be there? But all the lights are on.

Banks of computers sit there, room on room
Frozen in rectangles of green on black;
And here’s an office where two chairs exchange
A dialogue which must have finished when
They left at half-past five. Beyond that door
A drinks-machine winks to itself, alone.

The filing-cabinets are shut. A desk-top
Opens itself to any passing eye
But keeps its drawers locked. Hunched, apart,
A word-processor has run out of words.
Round it, the streets are screaming, siren-rent.
The government department is deserted.

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