PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Thomas Kinsella in conversation Jeffrey Wainwright comes to grips with St Chad Hsien Min Toh gives us a Korean perspective Iain Bamforth on Lou and Fritz: Sensible Shoes meets Starstruck Judith Bishop on Love and Self-Understanding in an Algorythmic Age

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.

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image