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Kate Clanchy

(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)

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