Friday, October 20, 2017

1917 Triptych (poem)

The poem published below is from Dave Alton, a non-member and the present resident poet at the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield, which was submitted for publication in the Socialist Standard whose editors thoughtfully passed it on to ourselves to use. Dave explains,  the poem:
"resulted in my seeing parallels with the role Lenin played in relation to what Marx was advocating with that St. Paul played in establishing the Church in the name of a man he'd never met and, from the subsequent history of that Church, hardly understood. I am, of course, making ideological comparisons, not religious ones. Also, I am taking poetic liberties to reflect on the point that the Russian Revolution and its subsequent actions became and remains to a large extent what many (most?) people associate with the word socialism."

1917 Triptych

Damascene railcar fetched out Saul
From Switzerland to Petrograd,
Salvation being sent, sealed and barred,
By one cousin for another’s fall,
Toppling the bi-headed eagle
To cries of “Peace!” and “Land!” and “Bread!”.
Alighting Paul, his Red vanguard
Were prepared to assume it all.

Infallibility’s blinding!
Worse, while dazzled by it, there seems
Only one way, and it’s binding
On all followers, writ in reams
By the Evangelist finding
His word became the pearl that gleams.

As palace gates buckled and burst
The Evangelist glanced sideways,
Catching the peasants’ urgent gaze
And wondered, “Is this revolt cursed?”
A rude vision, not quite rehearsed:
Crusts of bread, slices of land play
For those not looking passed a haze
Of rhetoric, unlike the immersed.

Arora roared, the palace fell,
A once bright vision darkly gazed
Into ascendency of hell:
What notions built, history razed.
His apostles denied the fall
While their packed pyre of the damned blazed.

St. Petersburg to Petrograd,
Huge stride proclaimed and yet so short
A step it proved. In the Red fort
The Evangelist declared glad
Tidings, good news, his vision had
Been realised, bringing comfort
And joy to the world. He held court,
While, in their cells, heretics bled.

Blinded by his revelation,
The Evangelist’s disciples
Took his word to every nation,
And even where his principles
Sowed division, his oration
Echoed through doctrine’s articles.

Dave Alton

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