We knew the pre-war world:

Lyrical, slightly decadent,

Subtle, though ironic,

A fabled land of make-believe.

We made allowances

And rubbed along, up to a point.

But post-war times are harsh:

Clean-shaven, dead legs, watch your back,

No loose talk, stay in line,

Rationing of love, smile control,

The ever-present threat of truth.

For some, the place where we now live

Is close to pure hell.

How long will it last? Who can tell?

◄ The Big Lie

Paris ►


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Stephen Gospage

Sat 11th Dec 2021 09:30

Thanks, Aviva

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Stephen Gospage

Mon 6th Dec 2021 21:44

I understand, Keith. The future seems particularly worrying, as so many of the old certainties seem to have gone. There is a sense of taking a leap into the dark. Also some governments (and intolerant lobby groups) seem to be tightening the screw and cracking down on any dissent. I don't include most anti-Covid measures in this, as I think they are necessary and proportionate, but human rights are under attack in many parts of the world. Thanks for this.

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keith jeffries

Mon 6th Dec 2021 09:30

This poem has been on my mind since I last commented on it. There are other current poems on this site which touch upon some of what is in your poem, perhaps even my latest poem. A sense of the impending unknown, if that makes any sense. Poetry can be a barometer and there seems to be something which we are alluding to but not quite naming. It is as if the world is hurtling forward to an unknown destination and along the way we are losing ourselves in the process.

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Stephen Gospage

Sun 5th Dec 2021 16:20

Thank you all for the comments.

Have you ever finished writing a poem and find you are not sure exactly what it is about? I had that feeling before posting this one and I am glad to say that your comments have clarified the meaning for me!

I think that initially it was intended to refer to the pre- and post- pandemic worlds, with the notion of war as a methaphor. As you point out, Keith, there is a serious risk that society will become more controlled and conformist. But looking at it again, a dominant theme seems to me to be nostalgia, in the sense of fondness for a time or a way of life that we do not remember very well (if at all) but which we imagine to be better than the one we are living through now. In that sense, we often wallow in fantasies and fear the 'ever-present threat of truth', as you point out, John.

Stephen, I hope the piece is provocative. May be it is a bit like Cavaliers being turned into Roundheads, but with the twist that, for some, the Roundheads may not be all bad.

Thanks very much for the likes, Jordyn, Holden and Ursula.

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Stephen Atkinson

Sun 5th Dec 2021 11:08

A superb provocative piece, Stephen!

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keith jeffries

Sat 4th Dec 2021 15:25

One has to read deeply into this poem as it contains a message which is slowly beginning to emerge. To me it speaks of a more controlled and conformist society. There is danger ahead.
Thank you for this

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John Botterill

Sat 4th Dec 2021 08:48

This has a bleak Orwellian feeling, Stephen.
I liked the lines
The rationing of love, smile control,
The ever-present threat of truth.
You hit a nerve there!
John Botterill

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