Edmund Griffiths  

E d m u n d   G r i f f i t h s




Hey Nineteen Thirties

Hey Nineteen Thirties, you came back!
We always knew you would;
but to see you now walking again these old
familiar roads
between scatters of boarded-up shops
as exchanges fall like lightning around us—
well our hearts just leapt and we
stumbled over our words and
yes, it’s really you.
We were harsh about you, at the end:
you were brutal to us.
But we’ve pined for you since,
got pedantic and miserable
from always picking over where we went wrong,
though we don’t deny it—there
have been others.
There was one in particular
walked with a light and skipping step,
cheered us up with summer and jokiness,
and for a moment we were happy, but you see
we were set in our ways by then
and elaborately sensible:
all that bright-eyed whimsy
and the effortless Parisian cool—
we found it hard.
In the end we turned our backs.
It was never like it was with you,
never the way you made us forget our first love,
the one we’d walked home from the
temperance pub that time
after the Esperanto lesson
when the gasworks stood
silhouetted against the evening

kaj birdis tra l’ ĉiel’ printempaj nuboj.

But we’ve got by without you:
we’ve taken long walks in the
Berkshire countryside
and grown used to living alone.
And now you’re back.
It all drops away like smoke.
And it’s yes please Professor Laski, it’s yes please the writers,
all we need is the ILP so there’s somebody to unite with.
You haven’t changed,
though we and the world both have
(Soviet Communism—a
dead civilization);
we’ve been wrong before,
glimpsing your face in the crowd,
but now we know.
And it’s yes please the Popular Front, it’s yes please the Depression,
all we need is a Book Club to help us get your attention.
Just say the word, your
voice magnetic as it was amid the noise of Elgar,
and we your heroes
will meet you out there in an afflicted area,
older now and difficult but as ready as ever
to trace pathologies for you and
accept your healing.