Lessons of the War:
Going to Vote

Today we are going to vote. Yesterday,
We had party political broadcasts. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have a new government. But today,
Today we are going to vote. Cherry blossom
Blushes pink with modest triumph in all of the neighbouring gardens,
And today we are going to vote.

This is an election leaflet. And this
Is the voting card whose use you will see,
When you go to vote. And this is proportional representation,
Which in your case you have not got. The local branches
Wear their rosettes with silent, eloquent gestures
Which in our case we have not got.

These are the leaked reports, which are always released
In the run up to an election. And please do not let me
See anyone not reading all the press reports. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength of will. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them not reading it all.

And this you can see is the spin doctor’s smile. The purpose of this
Is to close the breach, as you see. He can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Winning the votes. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The candidates are harassing and wooing the electorate.
They call it winning the votes.

They call it winning the votes: it is perfectly easy
To resist if you have any strength of will; like the spin doctor’s smile,
And the rosettes and the leaflets and the proportional representation,
Which in our case we have not got; and cherry blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For today, we are going to vote.

Eleanor Livingstone


If you've any comment on this poem, Eleanor Livingstone would be pleased to hear from you.