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17TH OCTOBER 1961

My first term at Liverpool. Tuesday morning.

The professor of Philosophy’s lecture:

“All metaphysical statements are false,

or platitudinous”. My memory

of that October is of soft sun,

and clement shadows in the breezy

pollution of the river city.

 

***

 

Today, I have realised, that morning,

not quite four hundred miles due south east,

near the Pont Saint-Michel, under orders

from their chief, Maurice Papon, a Vichy

collaborator, police were beating

Algerians demonstrating against

torture, and for freedom. Scores were thrown

into the river Seine, and drowned. Le Rafle

the Round-up. History as only rumour

for almost another forty years.

 

***

 

Though the world is all there is, and things

have no meanings beyond themselves, the busy

silence of that lecture room, before

the professor speaks, has been broken,

forever, with the cries of the beaten,

and the drowning.

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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3 Responses
  • John Huddart
    October 29, 2021

    Another fine drawing together of personal and global events, wrapped in that wonderful coincidence of your introduction to philosopy. Also great!

  • Ashen Venema
    October 29, 2021

    Poignant juxtaposition. I was too young, and history, as you say, veils itself, but I saw a graphic documentary of the atrocious events.

  • Alex Cox
    October 29, 2021

    What an intense poem, David. Thank you!

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