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The plains of hesitation

The idea of this poem came from the quotation I’ve included at the end of it. The poem is in  Manifesto, a collection of New Zealand political poems published in 2017.


On the plains of hesitation

a small crowd gathers.

They have their paintings and their pianos,

their china tea sets, their leather wallets.

They sit down on the grass uneasily,

their backs to the city, its streets bustling

with those who mind only their own business.


Far out on the edge of the plain

the refugees are jostling, hustling,

backpacks and waterbottles, babies on hips,

maybe some bread, or maybe nothing.


The crowd on the plains of hesitation

look both ways, at the bustling city

and at the fleeing refugees.

Uncertainly they open their pianos,

play a sonata, drink some tea


while out on the other side of the city

the drums are beating, the guns are glinting

in the glaring sun, the flags are hoisted

and the troops are ready to charge.


‘On the Plains of Hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who,

at the Dawn of Victory, sat down to wait, and waiting – died!’

George W Cecil (1891–1970)