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

CivilisationAnge Mlinko
Vol. 35 No. 8 · 25 April 2013


Ange Mlinko

211 words


The Venetians, the Venetians –
          you hear about the Venetians
picking off the black grapes of Izmir
          or seizing a ship
bound for Egypt, to trigger a
          war for Crete; grabbing the wrong rein
in the king’s convoy, causing riots;
          leaving their powder in the
Parthenon, to explode and singe
          the ancient trees to extinction
along with the friezes and free-
          standing tibias of Phidias
and Praxiteles. So when a
          ruddy dove, as if burnt by sunset,
staggers onto the balcony
          on the day the tripped munitions
kill more than a dozen
          and destroy a power plant
months after being intercepted
          on a ship bound for a Syrian port,
the first thing I think is
          ‘The Venetians! The Venetians!’
collapsing the shelves
          while olive silvers …


The Dutch called their money florins,
          and their borrowed flora,
which didn’t smell, made money.
          They didn’t smell,
those tulips from the east.
          The east,
          whose aitches and hitches –
an ‘a’a’ like ‘raw almond’ –
like the arabesques in assassins.
          The Dutch were so proud
of their invincible navy ships
          and varieties of tulips
that, crossing ‘Virgin’
          with ‘Admiral Enckhuysen’,
or ‘Diana’ with ‘Semper Augustus’,
          they bred, by and by,
          ‘General Bol’ and ‘Admiral Hoorn’
and sent their waves
          on tiptoe.

Send Letters To:

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

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