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12 October 2022

The NS Poem: Variations on “Auld Lang Syne”

A new poem by John Burnside.

By John Burnside

From now on, you should treat me as a
witness, neither
pro nor con, nor

anywhere between; 


in every house 
but one.

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A grown child in the close and holy
darkness, I will 
have no business here:

no gowans fine, no cup o’ kindness yet,
no good folk westering home
in summer fog.

My ghosts are laid
in veins of anthracite
and firedamp in the pages of no book,

oxlike and unremarked, beneath a town
that wears its hauntings 

No wede awa for me. No neiges d’antan.
With every breath
I’m learning to forget.

John Burnside is a Scottish author and poet. His most recent poetry collection is “Learning to Sleep” (Jonathan Cape)

[See also: The NS Poem: Hymn to the Subjunctive]

This article appears in the 12 Oct 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Will Putin go Nuclear?