Sad Wisdom from Philip Larkin on Iraq - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Sad Wisdom from Philip Larkin on Iraq

One more thought on the official conclusion to the War in Iraq. As it happens, I am reading Philip Larkin’s Collected Poems (edited by Anthony Thwaite.) While riding back home on the T, after I had written my lament about Iraq, I read this poem which I have read previously but seemed especially germane under the circumstances. Granted it was written more than forty years ago and Larkin passed away more than a quarter century ago. Nevertheless this poem sadly resonates with wisdom. The poem is titled “Homage to a Government”:

Next year we are to bring the soldiers home

For lack of money, and it is all right.

Places they guarded, or kept orderly,

Must guard themselves, and keep themselves orderly.

We want the money for ourselves at home

Instead of working. And this is all right.

It’s hard to say who wanted it to happen,

But now it’s been decided nobody minds

The places are a long way off, not here,

Which is all right, and from what we hear

The soldiers there only made trouble happen

Next year we shall be easier in our minds

Next year we shall be living in a country

That brought its soldiers home for lack of money

The statues will be standing in the same

Tree-muffled squares, and look nearly the same.

Our children will not know it’s a different country.

All we can hope to leave them now is money.

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