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This poem is taken from PN Review 5, Volume 5 Number 1, October - December 1978.

Five Poems Charles Tomlinson
FOR DANTON

                                                                                                                    'Bound to the fierce Metropolis . . .'
                                                                                                                                        The Prelude, Book X

In the autumn of 1793-the year in which he had instituted the Revolutionary Tribunal-Danton went back to his birthplace, Arcis-sur-Aube. After his return in November, he was to be arrested, tried and condemned.

Who is the man that stands against this bridge
And thinks that he and not the river advances?
Can he not hear the links of consequence
Chiming his life away? Water is time.
Not yet, not yet. He fronts the parapet
Drinking the present with unguarded sense:

The stream comes on. Its music deafens him
To other sounds, to past and future wrong.
The beat is regular beneath that song.
He hears in it a pulse that is his own;
He hears the year autumnal and complete.
November waits for him who has not done
...


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