a train to London. A stag party got on at York, and the carriage became, for a short period, territory ruled by them. Their terrible, eager, desperate faces produced in me feelings of interest, pity and fear. That occasion marked a time when as a poet I consciously wished to write about contemporary society. Júhasz’s poem, written by a man in 1955 Communist Hungary, altered and conserved through many translations, suddenly appeared to me as a surprising, but wholly fitting model.
Feverfew The following description of feverfew is given in the Reader’s Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain: ‘It is unlikely that feverfew – almost certainly an introduction from the Continent – would have come to Britain were it not for its value as a medicinal plant. The common name is derived from the Latin febrifuga, meaning that the plant was thought to be effective in driving away fevers. The plant had many other uses too, for instance, as a remedy for headaches and as a cure for feminine complaints, especially those connected with childbirth. Once grown commercially as a drug, feverfew is now regarded as no more than a noxious weed to be rooted out, but it is very persistent and hard to eradicate.’ ‘Down with the star […]’ is a reversal of the chorus of ‘Rally Round the Flag’, an American Civil War protest song (‘The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah! / Down with the traitor, up with the star’). Re-written by Billy Bragg as ‘There is Power in a Union’.
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