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The century turns.
Right on cue, Queen Victoria dies.
(Next time around, in the digital era
we will take the turn on the zero, not the one
making the twentieth century only
ninety-nine years long.)
Béla Bartók and Frank Bridge
are still at college
Sergei Prokofiev and Carl Orf
still at school
Aaron Copland and Kurt Weill
in their cots
William Walton not yet born.
But Maurice Ravel has just joined
the Société des Apaches
(or Bunch of Hooligans)
later to enrol, when they come to Paris
Manuel de Falla and Igor Stravinsky.
A turn, a period of change?
Well, yes. In all the arts
currents criss-cross, revolutions
blossom and fade, movements
are born, copulate and die.
But for the real turn, the cataclysm
which will both inspire and destroy
so many poets and other artists
which will drag us
kicking and screaming of course
but maybe also wailing and gnashing our teeth
into the maelstrom, the fire and brimstone
that will be the twentieth century—
for this we have to wait
another thirteen and a half years.