My imagined community* by Jonathan Taylor

is an earworm,

a half-recalled fragment

of a ‘foreign’ folk-song.


Or it’s something glimpsed

by a lone cyclist

in Malvern mists

(or deserted carpark,

or derelict Satanic mill),

never in full daylight,

never in chanting crowds


because its language comes alive

only on the lips of others

who talk in foreign cafés

of an illusion that is most itself

when not itself.


It is never found in tabloids

except in their apologies,

tiny columns on page 17

saying sorry like war poetry

for the battlefield of the past.


It breathes only in recollection,

only in Wordsworthian hindsight,

a memory of something

that was always (being) lost.




*After Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, Edward Elgar, Introduction and Allegro, and George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn.



Jonathan Taylor is an author, critic, editor and lecturer. His books include the novel Melissa (Salt, 2015), and the poetry collection Musicolepsy (Shoestring, 2013). He directs the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. His website is

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