Question Your name and nationality?
Answer My name is on my passport, and
My passport is my native land.
Question What brings you to this desolation?
Answer Pleasure, perhaps.
Question Are you a spy?
Answer Of course.
Question I envy you - for I
Would also like to be a spy,
Instead of baiting traps
For those who, careless, wander by
My up-to-date police station.
What made you choose this great vocation?
Answer A love of mystery.
But recent history
Gave me the final shove.
Question You are a student?
But I am a student too!
A constant student of
And the lore of the brand-new.
And you ... ?
Answer I am a bad student, the scholar
Question And yet you wear the white collar?
Answer In fact, a faded blue.
But learning is not found in schools
Only, and there are learned fools
With the courtesy style of worker.
Question An Honorable Shirker?
Answer In a manner of speaking, yes.
Question You are not a success?
Answer After a fashion, no.
So long as I misunderstood
The way things went, I thrived.
But when the doubts came out of the wood -
Work, out of the dry rot, out
Of hiding in the white-washed world,
I wondered that they had survived
Under the weight of lies.
I read the books again, and said
‘False’ to the bland progressive dead;
And as I read, the pages would
Yellow before my eyes.
The good, I found, were never named;
Instead, the bad were called the good,
I knew the new world; saw its films
For the first time in the open;
And, by and by, I lost my qualms
At being in the desert.
Question Tell me about this great white world
You have left behind.
Answer In marble bank and brokerage house
The perfect gentlemen arouse
The sacred bull.
In bucket-shop they order prayer
Lest prowling predatory bear
Eat up their profit.
But soft; the telephone is hoarse;
Come, timeless bard, hymn no divorce.
See, the bull, the bear, together
At the Capitol forgather;
Lo, they speak, and conscript father
Hears the high religious tone:
‘Save the rich and starve the poor:
‘We want more and more and more
‘Money and pleasure.’
Whereat, the sibyl, pendent, blonde,
Hung overhead in chains of light,
Murmurs, oracular: ‘I see
‘The widow’s stock, the orphan’s bond,
Ascending and descending; bright
Stones, and several furs for me.’
Silence, my muse, Oh, silence; for
The modern bride goes to the door!
Thrice-married, she; veiled ‘Other Woman’
Now leaves the Senate for her home
Electric. Stand back, ye starveling scribes,
While throng the festal priests of Mammon;
Loud cry, ye muted plebs; ye tribes
Bacchantic, raise the roofs of Rome.
‘Long life, and shorter working days!’
Be this the burden of your praise.
And now, lest I unworthy prove
Among the shades because I gave
No solemn ending to my song: -
One final note, O lyre, one tune
To echo from the southern moon.
Tell how the lights on bestial faces
Play, while coins are struck;
How, rapt, the broker, gibberish sings;
How bankers dance to sound of things;
And how the liars in high places
Sacrifice to luck.
Question In this region
There are not many of your religion;
But at Alexandria
They are more advanced.
I am myself interested.
We should all be of one faith.
Do you agree?