In the latest issue:

An Ordinary Woman

Alan Bennett

Anglo-America Loses its Grip

Pankaj Mishra

Short Cuts: John Bolton’s Unwitting Usefulness

Mattathias Schwartz

Smells of Hell

Keith Thomas

Mrs Oliphant

Tom Crewe

Tippett’s Knack

Philip Clark

At Tate Modern: Steve McQueen

Colin Grant

Catherine Lacey

Nicole Flattery

Churchill’s Cook

Rosemary Hill

The ‘Batrachomyomachia’

Ange Mlinko

On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs

Paid to Race

Jon Day

Poem: ‘Traveller’s Tales: Chapter 90’

August Kleinzahler

The Soho Alphabet

Andrew O’Hagan

Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley

Victor Serge’s Defective Bolshevism

Tariq Ali

The Murdrous Machiavel

Erin Maglaque

Diary: Insane after coronavirus?

Patricia Lockwood

The 24,000 Islands of StockholmPaul Durcan
Close
Close
Vol. 23 No. 15 · 9 August 2001
Poem

The 24,000 Islands of Stockholm

Paul Durcan

198 words

How you do go on
About the politics
Of Stockholm –
About how too controlled,
Too predictable
Are the politics of Stockholm;
How the politics of Stockholm
Are like the citizens of Stockholm,
Too careful, too clean.

On, on, you go
About the Swedish Academy;
How the waters are awash
With bobbing condoms.
I doubt – but keep
The thought to myself –
That condoms ‘bob’,
Whatever their content
Or lack of content.

Have you nothing to say
About the islands –
The 24,000 islands of Stockholm?
Nothing?
About even, say, a single skerry?
A rock, a pine, a hut?
Nothing?
Not even about one of them?
One of the 24,000
Islands of Stockholm?

Nothing about skimming
With forefinger and thumb
Water-rolled slivers
Of infant granite?
Nothing about how oaks
Can conceive in crevices
On a rock in the Baltic?
Nothing about why
A man and a woman
Might choose to be sparse
On an island in Stockholm?
Nothing about how the Bergman
Question posed by the Garden
Of Eden is whether a human
Can handle leisure or not?
About the origin of deprivation?
About whether or not
The Goth has got it right
In the islands of Stockholm –
In the 24,000
Islands of Stockholm?

Send Letters To:

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

letters@lrb.co.uk

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