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This poem is taken from PN Review 35, Volume 10 Number 3, January - February 1984.

An Old Guide-Book to Prague Frank Kuppner

It being my almost invariable habit
To visit a secondhand bookshop on a Saturday afternoon,
And wander among those rearranged heaps of the past,
Rearranging them myself each Saturday afternoon.

And surely I can afford this little book:
This little book of photographs of a city:
Almost any city, provided I can afford it:
I shall go and ask the man what price he sets on it.

Three days later, I read the back cover,
And discover that the book was published in June 1937;
Before that, it had hovered among the forties and fifties;
Suddenly all those people breathe on the other side of a war.

The River Vltava is still approaching Prague;
At tables on terraces hundreds overlook it;
An approaching war is not so easily photographed;
People are moving to and from the tables.

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