UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Another Country by Sean O'Brien

Get there if you can
– W H Auden

Scattered comrades, now remember: someone stole the staffroom tin
Where we collected for the miners, for the strike they couldn't win,

Someone stole a tenner, tops, and then went smirkingly away.
Whoever did it, we have wished you thirsty evil to this day:

You stand for everything there was to loathe about the South –
The avarice, the snobbery, the ever-sneering mouth,

The lack of solidarity with any cause but me,
The certainty that what you were was what the world should be.

The North? Another country. No one you knew ever went.
(Betteshanger, Snowdown, Tilmanstone: where were they? In Kent.)

"People" tell us nowadays these views are terribly unfair,
But these forgiving "people" aren't the "people" who were there.

These days your greying children smile and shrug: That's history.
So what's the point of these laments for how things used to be?

Whenever someone sagely says it's time to draw a line,
We may infer that they've extracted all the silver from the mine.

Where all year long the battle raged, there's "landscape" and a plaque,
But though you bury stuff forever, it keeps on coming back:

Here then lie the casualties of one more English Civil War,
That someone, sometime – you, perhaps – will have to answer for.