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Octavio Paz


Interruptions from the Past


My grandfather would sip his pint,
and talk of Keir Hardie,
George Lansbury,
a voice for the working poor.
And the tablecloth shook like a banner.

My father would stir his mug of tea,
and talk of Atlee and Bevan,
Beveridge,
the birth of a Welfare State.
And the tablecloth shook like a banner.

I kept quiet:
who was there for me to speak of?












A version of one of the 'Interruptions from the West' poems, in the collection 'East Slope' ('Ladera Este').

Translation Alan Baker, 2005