A. L. Morton

The Backward Lookers

Now in war’s winter
Their thoughts expect
A miraculous return of the year
To a time remembered.
But remembered falsely.
To a dream autumn
When leaves hung solid gold in the golden sun
And the wind slept over the fat land.

How will they bear the spring?
With boughs
Still black over the puddled earth,
With each green shoot a battle
And each birth
A hard adventure into a biting world.

How will they bear to be born,
From nightmare and dream,
Into this biting world?

SOURCE: Morton, A. L. (Arthur Leslie). “The Backward Lookers” [poem], in History and the Imagination: Selected Writings of A. L. Morton, edited by Margot Heinemann and Willie Thompson (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990), p. 340.

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