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

Close
Close

I
Forget the photos. Today I want you when you ruled,
When you sailed through the room, my schooner,
And men and boys fell on each other in your wake –
Today I want your shape, your heft, your grace.
It’s the Thirties, say, and I will sculpt you:
Not the strapping peasant girl bringing forth
Her fields of grain, not the shopfloor virgin
Goading the workers to exceed their quotas …
No, today I’ll do you and your reign justice:
A monument in the public square,
A clump of men fallen (stone or bronze),
Writhing, agony, gestures, the struggle,
And there above them, above the fray,
You as I would only you portray –
Nothing vulgar or carnal, a presence
We divine only in their faces, all there
And yet vanished like the victory they sought
Or the life this stone, wiser now, would strive for.
You: a whiff, a storm, a sovereign form,
A vapour trail dispersing in the vivid air.

II
Yes, a clump of men and among them, me,
Kneeling in prayer or pain, mouth open, head back,
My words (what words do statues speak?) you alone hear,
And all around, like coats at a party
In midwinter, piled high on an upstairs bed,
My comrades, my rivals, men of honour,
Ardent partisans all, in love, in battle, fallen,
Their wet hearts pitchforked onto this stone slab.

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