PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Kei Millerthe Fat Black Woman
In Praise of the Fat Black Woman & Volume

(PN Review 241)
Next Issue Vahni Capildeo The Boisterous Weeping of Margery Kempe Paul Muldoon The Fly Sinead Morrissey Put Off That Mask Jane Yeh Three Poems Sarah Rothenberg Poetry and Music: Exile and Return
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review Blog
Monthly Carcanet Books

This poem is taken from PN Review 8, Volume 5 Number 4, July - September 1979.

Four Poems Dick Davis

In his introduction to the theory of history, The Maqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun quotes and explains the proverb with which this poem opens. The meeting that ends the poem took place outside the walls of Damascus in 1401.

"The city filled with orange trees
Is lost", which, interpreted, meant
All conspicuous luxuries
Augur ruinous punishment.

This fitted what he knew. The zeal
For conquest, prayer, decays: the child
Mocks pieties he cannot feel
And children's children are beguiled

By comfort, gardens, literature.
Aesthetics dazes them, safe lives
Grow lax and soon they can endure
No-one but slaves, musicians, wives . . .

Till to degeneracy the Lord
Sends one who, like their forbears, spurns
Mere taste as mannered cant. The sword
...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image