A Marxist visits Lewis

Alasdair Maclean

Here they live and are themselves
for there is nothing else to be;
it is a land for gentlemen.

They do not speak here
of the beauty all around them,
being labouring class and used to burdens.
And the years come and go,
dragging their feet in true Lewis fashion.

I may leave tomorrow.
All day counting seagulls,
then back to the hotel:
lotus and potatoes yet again!

You could not start a revolution here
if you had all the world’s unhappiness
crammed into a fifty gallon drum
and the drum heaving and rumbling
and moving of its own accord
along the ground
and you with a fuse and a match.

In Ireland they shoot to kill.
In Wales they burn down houses.
In Lewis there is one old man
who paints out English road signs artistically.