On reading the youthful memoirs of Yevgeney Yevtushenko


I came across this piece I’d written almost forty years ago and was quite prepared to relegate it to my personal slush pile or trash it. But, I do believe, we’re all rather attached to our own creations so I didn’t. Then at one of our poetry meetings David Hollywood asked us to write a poem about justice and present it at the following meeting. Since this was my own creation albeit many years before, I decided to read it to the group. And now I offer it to you. I’m curious, does it in any way give away the difference in age?

What is truth?” said jesting Pilate

As he mocked the Prince of Peace

The saddest fact that now remains

The scorner’s sentiment’s increased

And ‘truth’ having gone through much change

Now goes around in guises strange

‘Fact’ is one; a point of view

Stripped of feelings, it’s sight-perfect

Oft taken out of context too.

But ‘fact’ remains the undisputed

Champion of the truth

It is, it was and shall remain

The journalist’s and historian’s holy grail.

And then we have the psychologists

Truth’s ever-hopeful optimists

Defence lawyers and statisticians

Twisting methodology to suit

Their hypotheses and for the Truth

They tout their figures

And they shout their numbers

And they clout their readers

With their graphs and charts and medians

Ad nauseam, ad tedium

But you’ll never find that perfect person

To fit their demographic portrait

No you’ll never find that perfect person

To fit in their straitjacket

You’ll also never ever find the Truth

In all that static.

And so we stand with jesting Pilate

More confused than cynical

And with him we ask the question

The hard, the harder, hardest question

‘What is Truth?’

And in our hearts we search for answers

But our hearts are only human

And for all we think we’re capable

We are all so, also fallible.


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