In the latest issue:

Robespierre’s Chamber Pot

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

Two PoemsCharles Simic
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The Mirage

Like a cartoon of a lost traveller in the desert,
Fallen on his knees and dying of thirst,
Who sees a quiet pond in the distance
Surrounded by tall palm trees,
Once on a train approaching Chicago,
I saw a snow-peaked mountain
I knew perfectly well was not there,
And yet I stared, gradually beginning
To make out one high sunlit meadow,
When the black smoke from the mills
Hid the sheep grazing from my sight.

Wild Flowers

There were wild flowers on the road to hell.
The wind blew and the flowers
Danced in the ditches, alone or in pairs,
In that cheerful way flowers have.
You had to be there to see them
As well as the looming guard towers.

I wasn’t. Still, one hot summer afternoon
As I lay resting, their bright colours came to me
And that dusty road and that long ditch
Where the wind played with them
Carrying their scent past the barbed wire,
Or so I thought, too terrified to imagine the rest.

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