Thursday 24 February 2011

The Literary Efforts of the Leaders

On the same subject as yesterday's post, Colonel Gaddafi has written several poems and stories. Many political leaders have heard and heeded the plaintive calling of the poet's pen. So I'm going to set you a little puzzle. Here are six little literary efforts by political leaders. The authors are Colonel Gaddafi, Barack Obama, Radovan Karadzic, Chairman Mao, Jimmy Carter and Saddam Hussein. But can you guess who wrote which?

Goodbye Assassins

Goodbye, assassins, the boundaries between
The worlds are trampled
Instead of the heart, a hornet drones in vain.
History turned its back on us.
What should one shoot at?
Like an octopus, the age hides its vertebra,
And the winter approaches
With white drifts.


Is not life in the midst of ordinary things filled with the most extraordinary things? Is its consistent flow not interrupted by some unexpected leaps? Could the colours of life be rich if the most ordinary things were not interspersed with miracles? Would a valley bring delight to the eyes of the one gazing at it if there were no mountain peaks above it?

Yellow Crane Tower

Wide, wide flow the nine streams through the land, 
Dark, dark threads the line from south to north. 
Blurred in the thick haze of the misty rain 
Tortoise and Snake hold the great river locked.
The yellow crane is gone, who knows whither? 
Only this tower remains a haunt for visitors. 
I pledge my wine to the surging torrent, 
The tide of my heart swells with the waves.


The miles of rubber trees bend from the sea.
Each of the million acres cost a dime
nearly two Liberian lives ago.
Sweat, too,
has poured like sap from trees, almost free,
from men coerced to work by poverty
and leaders who had sold the people's fields.

The plantation kiln's pink bricks
made the homes of overseeing whites
a corporation's pride
Walls of the same polite bricks divide
the worker's tiny stalls
like cells in honeycombs;
no windows breach the walls,
no pipes or wires bring drink or light
to natives who can never claim this place as theirs
by digging in the ground.
No churches can be built,
no privy holes or even graves
dug in the rolling hills
for those milking Firestone's trees, who die
from mamba and mosquito bites.

I asked the owners why.
The cost of land, they said, was high.

On Death

Is death a male or a female? God knows ... My father killed the snake with his strong foot. But death ran away quickly from under my father's foot and masqueraded as another snake which intercepted my father on his way back home so when he put his hand in a bush, to light a fire, this second snake caught him and it emptied its poisonous saliva as one injection in his arm ... this time death expected its stubborn adversary not to escape. Yet it forgot that my father had vaccinated himself against snake poison by being bitten before.


Under water grottos, caverns
Filled with apes
That eat figs.
Stepping on the figs
That the apes
Eat, they crunch.
The apes howl, bare
Their fangs, dance,
Tumble in the
Rushing water,
Musty, wet pelts
Glistening in the blue.

So who wrote what? You had:

1) Goodbye Assassins
2) Is not life in the midst of ordinary things....
3) Yellow Crane Tower
4) Liberia
5) On Death
6) Underground

And the writers were:

1) Colonel Gaddafi
2) Barack Obama
3) Radovan Karadzic
4) Chairman Mao
5) Jimmy Carter
6) Saddam Hussein

Now before you go and look at the answers, I want you to take a minute to decide which one you liked the most. In the blind tasting of poetry's wine, without the prejudice of politics, which of those was the best and which was the worst? Decided? Right. You can get to the answers by clicking on this link.

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