A poem by John Arden

John Arden (26 October 1930 – 28 March 2012) was a playwright whose works tended to expose social issues of personal concern.  At his death, he was lauded as “one of the most significant British playwrights of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Arden had a long history of association with radical left-wing politics in the UK and Ireland. Elected to Aosdána in 2011. John Arden and his wife Margaretta D’Arcy are internationally known for their contribution to literature and social politics.

A poem by John Arden


The Great Gas Giveaway

An ex-Minister’s Remore


Oh never ask us why we gave away the Gas:

No memory can stand the strain, the shame, of that. Alas.

“Commercial confidentiality” (sssh, watch your mouth)

“National security” ( sssh, whether north or south).

Sealed lips forever best, to the east as to the west,

Show no embarrassment, encounter no disgrace.

Who could foresee Shell’s corporate heart of stone

To smali and to take: and forever to rule? My God, if all were known,

Forever we shall lose our face, abandon forever the pride of our place.

Sealed-lips mandatory. (Ssh sssh. End of the story.)


*Thanks to Margaretta D’Arcy for permission to publish this previously unpublished poem by John Arden.

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