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

Coming to FranceRobert Crawford
Close
Close

after the Latin ‘Adventus in Galliam’ of George Buchanan (1506-82)

Badlands of Portugal, bye-bye
For ever, starving crofts whose year-round crop
Is lack of cash. And you, fair France, bonjour!
Bonjour, adoring sponsor of the arts,
Your air’s to die for, and your earth’s so rich
Vineyards embrace your warm, umbrageous hills,
Cows crowd your pastures, glens gabble with burns,
Broad, open meadows fan out fields of flowers;
Sailboats go gliding down long waterways,
Fish throng your ponds, lochs, rivers, and the sea
Where, left and right, your harbours greet the world
With open arms. Unstinting, smiling France,
Your towns are stunners, safe, walled, turreted,
Sights for sore eyes, stacked out with shining roofs;
Your folk are never pushy, but plain-speaking,
Well-dressed, well-fed, so ready to be friends.
France, alma mater of the universe,
Faithful, happy, flourishing at peace,
Jocund and easy, but grim-faced in war,
Unbeatable, but not flushed with success.
When the going’s tough you show true grit. You stand,
Defender of the true faith, with no time
For foreign bigots’ fads. Well-balanced France,
Your summer’s free from arid heat. Your winter
Gives up its bleak excesses at your hearth.
No east wind plagues make autumn faces pale,
No spring floods drown your farms with fast-thawed ice.
France, if for just one instant in my life
I cease to love you as my patria,
Send me straight back to Portugal’s dour badlands,
Those crofts whose only crop is lack of cash.

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