Wednesday, June 14, 2006

poetry night - e.e. cummings

i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or

his wellbelov├ęd colonel(trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but--though an host of overjoyed
noncoms(first knocking on the
head him)do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments--
Olaf(being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds,without getting annoyed
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"

straightway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)

but--though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat--
Olaf(upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"

our president,being of which
assertions duly notified
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died

Christ(of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:
more blond than you.

e.e. cummings 1931

I've been coming back to this work of cummings for a while now. It is horridly powerful. With the Republican ranting and raving, and it having been flag day and all, I had to turn to this one.
He starts out like Virgil (I sing of arms and the man), then he turns the epic on its head. cummings always said that his experience as an ambulance driver in WWI scrambled his head more than a little bit. Hearing the President today dancing around the issue of Guantanemo brought the cruelty of a military prison even farther home with me. Bush just wants the yellowsonsofbitches in his own dungeon to be forgotten. cummings switching madcap between classical structure and bar room doggerel propels us deeper and deeping into the horror of this story. I always picture some big dumb farm boy out of Minnesota. Born and bred Lutheran, full of decency, who, while he doesn't want to go to war, turns out to be better bred than the colonel, braver than the warriors, better indeed than all of us.

3 Comments:

Blogger SB Gypsy said...

followed the link over from The Dark Wraith. have bookmarked you.

Very beautiful harp, by the way!

Although I have studied the sword in a couple of different venues (fencing and kung fu), my problem with it is that it is precisely those like Rove that would become a fencing master, and that would be the end of your fantasy of calling him out. Oh well, it would have been nice to see.

7:55 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

Rove and those guys would try to learn, they'd try to master the art. but they are cowards. facing someone with the will and the desire to fuck them up would have them peeing their pants. of course, under code duello, the challenged party has choice of weapons and they would go for pistols and such. it just so happens that i have a brace of elegant 30 cal flintlocks. i'd even give him first dibs. it wouldn't matter, they are matched. the big difference is that i would flat kill that son of a bitch and then go get brunch. (you skip breakfast the morning of a duel in case of abdominal wounds) i seriously doubt that cheney has the balls to shoot someone on purpose.

9:02 AM  
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3:58 PM  

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