Trapped Man or the Freedom of Small Nations by Nigel Heseltine

In the Italianate landscape the trapped man,
his feet on the map, rising with his two fists,
where the hills darken and the sinuous roads
vanish in the marshes, he has
his hair in the breeze and the shackles are corroded.

Like a mouth in the evening air, the red
and purple sea, glazed with the night
four hours away on the water, the man
has might in his stance, in his mouth
the words that the crowd love,
and slits with which the moving herd is marked.

In an acre the conical mountain
freezes to its top, the chains shaking
are splintering ice like drinks in a glass
tinkle of women and scent and falling lace;
thick-faced bridge players are in
love with the death they read,
four-deep, five-deep, in young men’s faces.

His all is his stance
the garlands bars, land
lies in his map; two feet mark
the beyond and after, this is the beginning
of uniformed monument guards, and national parks.


Date: 1943

By: Nigel Heseltine (1916-1995)


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