Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
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 Hal Coase 'Ochre Pitch' Gregory Woods 'On Queerness' Kirsty Gunn 'On Risk! Carl Phillips' Galina Rymbu 'What I Haven't Written' translated by Sasha Dugdale Gabriel Josipovici 'No More Stories' Valerie Duff-Strautmann 'Anne Carson's Wrong Norma'
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This poem is taken from PN Review 58, Volume 14 Number 2, November - December 1987.

The Cannibals and Missionaries Problem Peter Sansom

This is a variant of the more familiar problem.
In this - your - version, the five cannibals
and five missionaries initially on the left bank of the
are your friends, the ones that do not like each other
and, really, don't like you much either.

The rowing boat, hired out by the hour from the park
(and on which you must pay a deposit), can hold
up to four persons at a time: your job is to find
a sequence of crossings that will leave these 'friends'
EITHER (a) on the right hand bank in the sun

OR (b) thirty feet down upon the river bed.
no missionaries may be left with a larger
number of cannibals on the bank or in the boat for

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image