Norway July 2011: A poem

A poem for Norway a year after the terrorist attacks on Oslo and Utøya:

Norway July 2011

Before this, we, the world, were on the outside.
Amid blue sky artifice we, the world, afforded
And then deployed pettiness as a luxury,
Confident that the windfall of civilisation
And being able to calm down in time
Would kick in just in time,
Safe like a raincoat, treasured like coconuts
That we hoarded, equating unseen with carapace.
We were on the outside, but saw all these ills
As external to ourselves, seething in lands
Both far-off and typecast.
We saw the book’s cover,
And judged (from experience).

Now? All terror is completely within and
All those gone are blameless. Completely.
Those proved wrong are broken, broken,
Unable to salvage life from innocence.
The unknowing young still with us awaken
All feeling, all fear, every piece of awe;
The jigsaw gains clarity, we crave new protection.

And yet this is where everything democratic
Sprouts up for appraisal – or just out of defiance.
Tender like snowdrops, rooted like Norse pine,
All freedoms and fairnesses again evoke children
And vases not fragile as long as they over-run
With love for water, daisies for small hopes
That suddenly circle, and join up, softly.

All we have is that childish hope.
That childish hope is all that’s obligatory.

Copyright Aidan McGee 2012

Oslofjorden from the Bygdøy Peninsula, August 2009. Photo: EE Pridgeon

Oslofjorden from the Bygdøy Peninsula, Oslo, August 2009. Photo: EE Pridgeon

See here for a more immediate and highly impactual verse response by Danish poet Pia Tafdrup, made available in this instance via the blog of a poetry publishing outlet we can’t praise highly enough – Bloodaxe.


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