IT IS simple, look: statue is huge in the hall.
Gaze is inspirational and up.
The worn words, garbled in grammar school,
here lie freshly graven.
Tourist feet walk in whispers.
Air is musty.
This of course is history.
Traitor too is easy to recognize.
The narrow eyes sneer out from textbook page.
Teacher has told us all:
his whole cunning and contriving,
how they caught him in nick of time.
Have nudged him in the museum, bloated and wax.
This is history, these are facts.
But alive, warm, erring, how do you know?
That man a hero—the one in the wrinkled suit,
cigarette stain, bad teeth,
no microphone technique?
And that charmer, faintly of talcum, so witty after dinner,
hard to believe in the hidden dictaphone,
the crested ring with the removable stone …
And what of the others: halfway house,
ready to applaud whichever ending,
blending smoothly into the major hue?
Where is our litmus paper,
which slide rule will apply,
what chapter and verse to quote:
quick! let us learn by rote!
History cannot help us here at all.
Steers no open course.
Roaring niagaras froth and churn,
North Star midnight black.
Deafened, we must shout the certain way.
Blinded, we must baffle into day.
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