by W. H. AUDEN

Unbiased at least he was when he arrived on his mission,
Having never set eyes on this land he was called to partition.
“Time,” he was briefed in London, “is short. It’s too late
For compromises, concessions, rational debate;
There isn’t a chance of peace through negotiation:
The only hope now lies in regional segregation.
We cannot help. What with one thing and another,
The Viceroy feels you shouldn’t see much of each other.
Four judges, representing the parties interested,
Will advise, but in you alone is authority invested.”
Shut up in an ugly mansion, with police night and day
Patrolling the garden to keep assassins away,
He got down to his job, to settling the political fate
Of millions. The available maps were all out of date,
The census returns almost certainly incorrect,
But there was no time to revise them, no time to inspect
Contested areas himself. It was frightfully hot,
And a bout of dysentery kept him constantly on the trot,
But in seven weeks he had carried out his orders,
Defined, for better or worse, their future borders.
The next day he sailed for England, where he quickly forgot
The case as a lawyer must: return he would not,
Afraid, as he told his club, that he might be shot.