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Politics & Other Works



Michael Joseph Ltd. 1979
Pantheon 1981
Random House 1981


· Index of first lines ·
(additional lines included for requested quotes)

Ah yes. The discipline that gives the air
Of freedom to the beckonings of chance. (3)

Another one won't do me any harm. (18)

Content and form must aptly fit the thought. (2)

First we start showing signs of wear and tear
and no more feel like rolling in the snow. (24)

He taught us what we do not want to know:
That what we think we know we seldom do:
Socrates (34)

How can I help my fellow man, and make
A contribution to the commonweal, (29)

I cannot say that I'm the man that I
Once was. He slaved away to set me free. (17)

I did not want to fall in love with you.
But I'm not free. Even the air can't choose. (12)

I never thought that you'd make love to me. (11)

I used to be a decent woman. then I met
The man I loved and I became his wife. (22)

I want you happy, beautiful and free. (8)

I wonder how you are encumbered by
No metaphysical uncertainlty. (31)

If He exists, it's only through His Grace
That he's so far away or awfully near. (35)

If only your would tell me that you love
Me still. Then I'd pretend I understood (7)

If she did not love you, she would not be
Jealous. I wish you would appreciate (10)

Is it our destiny to spurn
The mortal vessel of our frail desire? (1)

Is this indeed our last, our final kiss? She's gone.
All gone. I should have kissed her more. (14)

It's all correct, and crisp, and keen and bright. (36)

Love does not always find a way: but gives
A promise that it cannot be destroyed. (6)

Man's inhumanity to man remains
A puzzle unresolved. Perhaps we should (26)

My friend insists he needs a bayonet's
Point pressing in between his ribs to make (27)

No one but me can hear the mental din
Of clashing thoughts and images that fight (32)

Now all our guests have come and gone away, (16)

Some say they know the reason why
We're here. And others with an equal force (25)

Sometimes I think it is a rotten deal (23)

Thank God for whenever a priveleged few
Can breathe without the choice of loss of life (28)

The freedom you desire is in the mean
Between opposing tensions in your soul.
Polonius (33)

There's light and love and joy and freshness yet. (37)

To live our life's the grand adventure: fit
for any hero. Nothing else can be (38)

We lost ourselves in love.
And then lost love. (15)

What have you got to say to the American
People in thirty seconds flat?
Presidential Candidate (21)

We want to help you keep your innocence Graduation Address (20)

When I consider what you mean to me,
It is a fact I've come to realise (4)

Why don't you keep it to yourself? You think
That all you have to do is let it all (9)

Will you reserve your next lifetime for me? For Jutta (5)

You once were lean, but now you're fat. (19)

You tell us that it's by faith alone
(Itself a gift of grace) we can be saved. (30)


· Contents ·

Introduction (Pantheon/Random House)



· Notes ·

LP recording Life Before Death (1978)
Words by R.D. Laing
Music by Ken Howard
and Alan Blakely
Three of the Sonnets are available as MP3 downloads from the Art & Literature page,
Life Before Death

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