“All Of These People”

Monday, December 12, 2016 - 4:51 pm

“All Of These People”

Who was it who suggested that the opposite of war
 Is not so much peace as civilisation? He knew
 Our assassinated Catholic greengrocer who died
 At Christmas in the arms of our Methodist minister,
 And our ice-cream man whose continuing requiem
 Is the twenty-one flavours children have by heart.
 Our cobbler mends shoes for everybody; our butcher
 Blends into his best sausages leeks, garlic, honey;
 Our cornershop sells everything from bread to kindling.
 Who can bring peace to people who are not civilised?
 All of these people, alive or dead, are civilised.

This poem is excerpted with permission from Collected Poems. For more poetry, visit our Poetry Radio Project.

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Michael Longley

has written more than 20 books of poetry, including Collected Poems, Gorse Fires, and his most recent collection, The Stairwell. He was the professor of poetry for Ireland from 2007 to 2010 and is the winner of the Whitbread Poetry Prize, the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, and the Griffen Prize. In 2015 he was honored with the Freedom of the City of Belfast.

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