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Poem of the week: Look-out by Ian House

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This poem for peace eschews flag-waving and forced sentiment in favour of a still moment of ceasefire

This week's poem is Look-out by Ian House. It's from an unusual kind of commemorative anthology, The Arts of Peace, and simply and movingly encapsulates the editorial concept.

The collection's title quotes Andrew Marvell's An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland: "So restless Cromwell could not cease/ In the inglorious arts of peace,/ But through advent'rous war/ Urged his active star." Conflicts undertaken in defence of the humane pursuits and values implied by "inglorious arts" may be won, only for lesser values to replace them. The Arts of Peace, writes Adam Piette in the introduction, turns from "anniversary fuelled flag-waving and fake tearfulness towards a measured and felt solidarity with those who have suffered, as well as a quiet celebration of the peacetime that is so easily lost, so quickly taken for granted, so undervalued." House finds symbols of that easily undervalued peacetime in a moment of ceasefire, abstracted from any specific war or battle, but not thereby neutralised. Look-out seems both local and universal.

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