Bright sunlight will distort what it reveals.
Politicians lie. Once more we’re strung along.
This afternoon I rubbed my thumb
along the chipped rim of a coffee cup
and thought what could be worse. A gulf
dividing night from day might open up.
Old shadows though, which public glare conceals,
are more substantial than deceit or pelf.
Among them walks the genius by whom
evening was invented. The shepherd youth
Nostalgia, arm in arm with brother Hiraeth,
is with him and will challenge us to song
in groves where milk-white peacocks droop
their ghostly tails and squawk the truth.
Note: This poem was written in June 2016, after the referendum about Britain’s membership of the European Union. According to Erwin Panofsky and others, Virgil invented evening. Oscar Wilde mentions the ‘milk-white peacocks’, quoting from Tennyson’s poem ‘Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal’, in his essay ‘The Decay of Lying’, 1891, in which he remarks that poets gave us the language of twilight.
Peter Bennet has published seven collections of poetry. He was Associate Editor of Stand from 1995 to 1998, and is a co-editor of Other Poetry.He was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2008 for his collection The Glass Swarm (Flambard). His most recent collection is Border from Bloodaxe Books in 2013.