(after the Finnish of Gosta Agren)
If you should go to Samarkand
you might find Scheherazade
reproduced a thousand times,
tinsel-clad, in gift shops,
and Al-al-Din’s gold-plated domes
slung with Soviet tourist signs
and tarnished, on a brassy sky.
But staying is a kind of leaving.
From here, the fields of Oxfordshire
stretch almost sovereign-golden.
And when the wheat is rolled in bales
like wheels, and black tractor rills
run to the bare horizon, there shall be,
in the wordless autumn air, Samarkand,
the idea of Samarkand.
From Thumbscrew No 12 (Winter 1998/9)