The ancients believed the skies
Could be scried for secrets. Perhaps
Their astral lines were false.
But they may have found truths
In other substance,
That pagan belief that elemental fire
Lay dormant in material – wood, coal,
Books and men – there
Is truth in that.
Just as there is water in flowers,
Earth in mortal bones, and air
In every scent;
And that the aerial may rise
Whilst ash descends.
Yes, there is fire in books:
There is truth in that.
Stylistically simple poem, partially inspired by pagan concepts of the elements (the notion that fire, as a substance in itself, lies in flammable substances just waiting to be released in flame); and partially inspired by a growing anti-intellectualism here and overseas, denouncing anything theoretically inconvenient, to my mind, bordering on book-burning.