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)