My teachers at school in England

never told me that America had a revolution.

They never quoted Winston Churchill

saying I do not admit, for instance,

that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America,

and none of them mentioned Siegfried Sassoon’s

letter expressing his belief that World War One

was being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power

to end it, and that it had become a war

of aggression and conquest. Instead, we learned

about Dr. Livingstone taking an English god

to the African jungle, said the Lord’s Prayer

each morning (although I only moved my lips),

and filed back to class past the Jewish boys

who came later to assembly after chanting

in their classroom ghetto. Nobody mentioned Ghandi.

Colonialisation was presented as a gift

to the uncivilised. We heard about Dunkirk

but not Dresden. My relatives in Austria

wouldn’t talk about the Nazis, except for one uncle

whose hand became a holy relic when Hitler

took hold of it, although he only talked about

the Autobahn system and omitted the rest.

We watched westerns until Apache was a word

as dirty as terrorist today. Propaganda became inseparable

from Communist, while American sitcoms

invaded us with visions of prosperity. My father

used to say There’ll never be another war

now they’ve got the bomb

and I looked forward to a world united, but couldn’t see

far enough to know that when it came that world

would fly corporate logos beside flags and spend so much

on weapons it would be wasteful not use them.

People cross its borders to find work instead of culture

and learn their history by experience

that clings to them like sweat stained shirts.


David Chorlton


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One Response to History

  1. Dafydd ap Pedr says:

    Absolutely spot on. A brilliant piece of writing.

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