Michael Swan: Taking A Stand

For evil to triumph
it is enough
that good men do nothing.

At a literature festival,
for instance,
when a man reads a very long poem
translated from the Estonian
about a small horse,
it is essential
to take a stand.

You must scream very loudly.
You must pelt the reader
with copies of the festival programme.
You must throw chairs
through the windows.

Failure to take such steps
renders you complicit
in your own fate.

And if then
a professor from Durham
delivers a paper
on pre-Christian symbolism
in Porgy and Bess,
or a woman from Tbilisi
reads extracts from her verse play
in what may or may not be
the original Georgian,
or a troupe of Andalusian mimes
dressed as badgers
perform an unusual version
of Goethe’s Faust,
believe me,
you have only yourself to blame.