Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Reader Survey
PN Review Substack

This poem is taken from PN Review 156, Volume 30 Number 4, March - April 2004.

She Maps Iraq John Matthias

She maps Iraq. For England and for Empire
and the Man who Would be King.
She is Miss Gertrude Bell, a friend of T.E.L.
and Faisal. She knows much more

than all the men around her table, and she knows
they know this and despise her for her
knowledge and her fluent Arabic. They need her though,
and so she maps Iraq. They cannot find

a thing: no well or wall or wildflower blooming
where they all think nothing blooms.
What they know they only say to one another
at their club - conceited silly flatchest windbag daughter

of the Ironworks Bell & Bell. They'd all
sweat their smelting jealousies in Turkish baths.
She maps Iraq. They all take notes. They lean across
her table, light her endless cigarettes.
...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image