A Poem About Poems About Vietnam
J O N S T A L L W O R T H Y
The spotlights had you covered [thunder in the wings]. In the combat zones and in the Circle, darkness. Under the muzzles of the microphones you opened fire, and a phalanx of loudspeakers shook on the wall; but all your cartridges were blanks when you were at the Albert Hall.
Lord George Byron cared for Greece, Auden and Cornford cared for Spain, confronted bullets and disease to make their poems meaning plain; but you-by what right did you wear suffering like a service medal, numbing the nerve that they laid bare, when you were at the Albert Hall?
The poets of another time- Owen with a rifle-butt between his paper and the slime, Donne quitting Her pillow to cut a quill-knew that in love and war dispatches from the front are all. We believe them, they were there, when you were at the Albert Hall.
Poet, they whisper in their sleep louder from underground than all the mikes that hung upon your lips when you were at the Albert Hall.