Dystopian Poems

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Island where all becomes clear.

Solid ground beneath your feet.

The only roads are those that offer access.

Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.

The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here
with branches disentangled since time immemorial.

The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple,
sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.

The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista:
the Valley of Obviously.

If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.

Echoes stir unsummoned
and eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.

On the right a cave where Meaning lies.

On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction.
Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.

Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley.
Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.

For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,
and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches
turn without exception to the sea.

As if all you can do here is leave
and plunge, never to return, into the depths.

Into unfathomable life.

by Wislawa Szymborska
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature (1996)
From "A large number", 1976

Translated from Polish by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

The Unknown Citizen|  |
by W. H. Auden|
(To JS/07 M 378
This Marble Monument
Is Erected by the State)He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to beOne against whom there was no official complaint,And all the reports on his conduct agreeThat, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint,For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.Except for the War till the day he retiredHe worked in a factory and never got fired,But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.Yet he wasn't a scab or odd in his views,For his Union reports that he paid his dues,(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)And our Social Psychology workers foundThat he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.The Press are...
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