Friday, June 25, 2010

Auden, "Partition"

“Shut up in a lonely mansion, with police night and day/
Patrolling the gardens to keep assassins away,/
He got down to work, to the task of settling the fate/
Of millions. The maps at his disposal were out of date/
And the Census Returns almost certainly incorrect./
But there was no time to check them, no time to inspect/
Contested areas. The weather was frightfully hot,/
And a bout of dysentery kept him constantly on the trot,/
But in seven weeks it was done, the frontiers decided,/
A continent for better or worse divided.//

The next day he sailed for England,
where he quickly forgot/
The case, as a good lawyer must. Return he would not,/
Afraid, as he told his Club, that he might get shot.”

Also see Ramachandra Guha's article citing this poem from 2007:

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