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Two popular and long-established collections of  war poetry of the
First World War

Minds at War
A comprehensive
anthology of poetry of the First World War. All the greatest war poems of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon and war poems of over 70 other notable poets. All set in the context of the poets' lives and historical records. With historic photographs and cartoons.  Edited by David Roberts.
 400 pages £15-99 (UK)



Out in the Dark
Anthology of
First World War poetry recommended for students and the general reader.
19 poems by
Wilfred Owen
, 27 by Siegfried Sassoon and over 90 more war poems by 45 significant poets including women writers. Contextual information and basic notes on many poems. Illustrated.  Edited by David Roberts.
185 pages - £10-99 (UK)



Falklands War Poetry cover

Gaza. Israel, Palestine  -  War and Peace Poetry  -  The War Poetry Website

See also the Palestine Page and the Israeli Page
   

Poems on this page

A New Birth of Freedom

A poem at Christmas 2014, by Felicity Currie

Impulses of Deeper Birth*
Felicity Currie

A poem at Christmas 2012.

Rights and Wrongs  -  David Leslie Urion

The 2012 Seven-Day Israel-Palestine War ended on 21 November
160 Palestinian dead, 7 Israeli dead following devastating bombing and shelling of Gaza by Israeli warships, jets, and drones and a Palestinian bus bomb in Tel Aviv and rockets fired into Israel by the almost defenceless Palestinians.

Michael Brownstein Poems by Michael Brownstein (2012) about the 1948 establishment of the Israeli state and the Israeli attacks on Palestinians
 2009 Israeli/Palestine conflict Several poems about the 2009 Israeli invasion of Gaza.
They are not listed here. Readers will need to scroll down to read them.
I appreciate that this web page needs more work but I currently don't have the time to complete it. DR.
2005 Israeli/Palestine conflict Includes poems by Felicity Currie.

Bethlehem 2014

Bethlehem, December 2014

Showing the Separation Wall built by the Israelis cutting off Jerusalem from Bethlehem and Palestine as a whole.

This photograph was supplied by the British based Palestinian support organisation, Medical Aid for Palestinians. Link to MAP

A New Birth of Freedom*

Can we create a Christ birth that means care
Of being, human being, everywhere?
My life is your life, let me feel with you
Each thrust of torture and its mortal twist
Beyond, to loss and nothing. Let me be
A means of telling truth. It does exist:
Calling for meaning, change and outcome too.
Knowing what I know, I am you - not me.

Can my being here, so far from your despair,
Have any chance of making this world care -
Reshape the attitude of all who keep
Injustice in their palaces of sleep?
Shall I say yes and let this day of sun
Transform dark into light for everyone?

Sonnet composed by Felicity Currie, 2014, and dedicated to the Palestinians.

* A reference to the Gettysburg address by Abraham Lincoln when he dedicated a new cemetery to the remembrance of soldiers who had died in the American Civil War. The last lines of this read:

"We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."  -  U S President, Abraham Lincoln, November 19th , 1863.

Impulses of Deeper Birth*

Where can the persecuted find a berth,
A stable land that can be called a home?
No company of shepherds or of cattle,
Just bombs and drones that give birth to death’s rattle.
Grave beckons whether you lie still or roam―
You might as well be born under the earth.
Whether we choose to celebrate or mourn
No meaning lives unless Life is reborn.

A Life that rescues the lost birth of good,
Gives truth and justice hope and strength to be
And recreates a world of could and would:
The will that conquers power and will bring
A birth that lasts and changes everything―
A birth not of the self, but empathy.

Felicity Currie
December 2012

*Title from Wordsworth’s “A Poet’s Epitaph”.

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Two poems by Michael Brownstein (2012) about the 1948 establishment of the Israeli state and the Israeli attacks on Palestinians

 

MY PERIOD OF DESPERATION (DEGRADATION)

 

I thought we were better than this,

the Holocaust wet paint over fresh plaster,

the bloody fluids cleansed, debris and bone raked away.

Then I read a passage in Carolyn Forche’s book,

Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness, and everything I knew,

believed I knew, believed in, believed about me,

my people’s history, scattered like the flight of pigeons before a hawk.

You try to ignore it, but a scab does not form nor a scar,

just an everyday breaking of flesh, a reopening of wounds.

There are not enough stitches in the world to keep all of it intact—

so you give in (I gave in) and the pursuit to truth begins:

1.

I am human first, Judaism my religion—

not my ethnicity, my skin color, my nationality.

I never saw myself a Zionist, but I was proud of Israel,

her history my history, a piece of my identity,

a rendering of facts, the rule of Torah.

You sleep and when you wake, there is power to a myth.

 

2.

 

To the victor goes the writing of history,

the rewriting, even a creation of fiction.

1948: The famous Israeli War of Independence

and truths associated with it covered up.

What did happen to the Palestinian people?

The indigenous people? How did their villages vanish?

Were they destroyed in fire and bomb or simply

stolen from them and made a gift to someone else?

 

3.

 

There are always “ifs” in a rendering of history

and many sides to the same tale, even the same fiction.

The atrocities of the Israeli-Palestine Conflict—

The Nakba—have been documented, photographed,

displayed and archived—and still

the great myth of Israel’s beginnings persist--

Michael Brownstein

 

A POEM TO AHARON ZISLING

 

It has been said that there were cases of rape in Ramile. I could forgive acts of rape, but I won’t forgive other deeds, which appear to me to be much graver. When a town is entered and rings are forcibly removed from fingers and jewelry from necks—this is a much graver matter. —Aharon Zisling, Agricultural Minister to the Israeli Cabinet, July 21, 1948

 

To begin with, utensils and furniture, and in the end, bodies of men, women and children.  —  a witness

 

What is worse, Aharon Zisling,

the looting of a town or a forced march into dust,

the heat and the weight of what is owned

a double burden, and then the third,

grandfather down, grandmother unable to continue,

the substance of child so heavy

the sand, the birds, all of the maggots

home? What can you do, Aharon Zisling,

you who rant against Pogroms,

you who believe the Exile of Israel,

you who spoke against criminal and thief?

I thought we better than this,

Aharon Zisling, not even enough saliva left

to bathe the stone in the mouth of those too weak

to go on. The heat, lack of shade, scream of guns.

I thought we better than this, Aharon Zisling.

This one here, she is fourteen,

her legs not strong to go on,

and this one, almost ninety,

no one strong enough to carry either one,

Aharon Zisling, you who condone rape,

you who condone murder,

you who condone the breaking of the tablets.

Michael Brownstein

Link to more of Michael Brownstein's poems

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Rights and Wrongs

Righteous khakis lining one side

repressed ragheads line the other,

both sides playing ping-pong tit for tat

over Ben and Al´s´ dividing wailing

wall put up to keep fanatics in and out.

Some mums are shouting insults,

lies or bits of rumour turned to truth,

while young men lob their protest rocks,

return back rocket fire as once again the

fork-tongued Yanks side with their favoured

allies, explode all hopes for peace in Middle East.

Sharp-suited envoys ever mindful of backers´

vested interests fire their words like snipers pick

off targets, grin falsely while they mediate, inflame

long-standing hate, aid sales of West-made arms.

Robed holy men fan fires of diatribe,

distort what´s right, blind partisans

to passed down Golden Rule and Aesop´s

fabled words of greed, deaf to hard fact it´s stingy

to not hand back lands unjustly colonised or grabbed.

They´ll never resolve conflicts without a “sorry”

or respect, stop genocide, unblock partitioned

neighbour who´ve every right to take up vacant

UN seat, accept that Palestine´s a rightful State.

David Leslie Urion

© 2012

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Simon Carroll finds that most of his time is taken up by academic health research and only occasionally does he find time to write a poem.
He explains that "
early last January, I was was so incensed by the wanton slaughter in Gaza that I sat down to write this poem". (Poem added to the website January 2010.)

In memory of the slaughter of the innocents, Gaza, Dec. 28, 2008

A Bomber’s Jeremiad*

I haven’t changed my way of life; I continue to love myself
and make use of others. Only, the confession of my crimes
allows me to begin again lighter in heart and to taste a
double enjoyment, first of my nature and secondly of
a charming repentance – The Fall, Albert Camus
 
 
When we bomb we do so with regret.
Not for us the intent to maim;
it is with pure heart we send our wrath.
When we speak and aim
we do so with precision, concision.
We have surveyed the battlefield:
the houses, mosques and universities,
along with barracks and infirmaries.
 
We know all the trajectories
of rhetoric and falling bricks,
of cleansing words and shredding steel.
We feel, for those peripherals;
those to the side, so to speak
when we wreak our replies
into an infinity of eyes for eyes.
 
We wish, no, we lament
that our enemies found themselves
in the wrong place: a schoolyard,
a hospital, a friend’s basement.
They put themselves in the midst
of all our accidental excesses.
Though, we planned very well;
hell, we know Picasso’s knell.
We know Ruben’s too;
and now, how to keep babies out of view.
We are, after all, and after The Fall,
well educated.
 
You must understand our dilemma:
we wish no harm to innocents.
We care for the children,
the mothers, sisters, yeah,
even brothers and their lovers.
We also care for those without clothes,
and walkers, talkers, pranksters, petty thieves;
even these and even those
who sit on couches: heaven knows.
 
But all this is out of our hands.
I’m afraid our ordinances
are preordained.
You see, our apologies
and staged, pro forma colloquies
are prepared in advance.
For, we know the limbless,
those with and without faces;
we know the charred remains.
We know all those children and their games
torn asunder for eternity;
just not the names, not the names.
 
Surely, you understand the precedent?
We are all vile and innocent it seems,
by necessity and accident,
we can no longer tell
the dreamer from the dreams..

Simon Carroll, PhD
University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada


* Jeremiad - a long, mournful lament


27 January 2009
At the weekend the BBC blocked a joint appeal from 13 highly respected aid agencies for  humanitarian aid for the citizens of Gaza.

 BBC complaints contact information.
PHONE: 03700 100 222,  TEXT: 03700 100 212  ONLINE: http://www.bbc. co.uk/complaints /

26 January 2009
It is estimated that about 50,000 people were made homeless by the Israeli shelling of Gaza. Israel continues its total control of the flow of all food and other supplies into Gaza through the six entry/exit points. On the 6pm news today on BBC Radio 4 at 6pm it was stated that Israel was refusing to allow construction materials to enter Gaza.

21January 2009

Wednesday. At the weekend Israel declared a ceasefire. The last Israeli troops left Gaza yesterday, timed to be just before the inauguration of America's new president, Barack Obama. They left behind them  vast areas of destroyed housing, 50,000 people homeless and living in UN shelters, over 5000 Palestinians wounded, over 1300 Palestinians killed and 13 Israelis dead. 

13 January 2009

Over 60 bombing raids on Gaza last night. Nowhere is safe. Over 900 Palestinians have been killed in this short escalation of conflict. 13 Israelis have been killed (3 by their own soldiers in an accident).

7 January 2009

See Words words poem below. Today the news is that as that poem was being written another UN School was hit. At least 40 people were killed, most of them children. The school was being used as a safe haven. Hundreds were sheltering there. The UN had given the Israeli army the co-ordinates of the school so that it would not be hit accidentally.  The Israeli army spokesman said that they fired on the school in response to being fired on by gunmen in the school. John Ging, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency was outraged at these comments. He said, "Those in the school were all families seeking refuge." (Information from today's Independent.)

Leaders continue to call for a ceasefire (whilst continuing to supply arms to Israel). There was a six months' ceasefire until last November. The Israelis say Hamas broke the ceasefire. The Independent's distinguished Middle East Reporter, Robert Fisk, writing in today's Independent, denies this. He says that Israel broke the ceasefire on 4th November (08) when an Israeli bombardment killed six Palestinians, and again on 17 November when four more Palestinians were killed.

The people of Gaza have been living under the Israeli siege of Gaza for over two years. They have reasons to be angry. So many are traumatised, so many in despair.

We can help
One of the charities working in Gaza is UK's Christian Aid. See http://www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies/

DR


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NOPPRESSION

you are hungry. you are in crisis.
you are surfing. you are eating baklava.
you are oppressed.
i know this because i saw you rap about it in a white banquet hall.
you posted it on the world wide web of lies.
you have no food. but so many cameras!

flash.

where is gilad?
is he underground?
probably.
does he eat baklava?
probably not. he is so skinny.
i know this because i saw his belt wrapped around his wasted waist twice. in a white banquet hall.

feast.

rape in the congo.
shhh!
burnt wombs tossed in the river.
shhh!
sliced clitoris.
a chunk of soap in her cracked hands.
a drop of chocolate on her lips.
she is shocked.
silence hummmmms.
shhh.
but gaza! but gaza!
it is always gaza!

Laura
July 2010


6 January 2009

Words, words

Gaza, 6 January, 2009

The Prime Minister said today
"This is a very dangerous moment.
I think everybody around the world
is expressing grave concern,"
but what use are words?

On Saturday
after days of bombing and shelling
Israeli ground troops moved into Gaza.
Tanks, grenades, machine guns,
helicopter gunships,
bombs from the air
shelling from the sea.

More than 500 Palestinians killed
men, women and children.
Hospitals overwhelmed.

Five Israelis killed.

More than 700 Palestinians killed.
Hospitals are out of supplies.
People are out of food and water.

Nine Israelis have been killed.

The killing goes on.

For six decades
the killing has gone on.

The Israelis want peace.
The Palestinians want peace.
The Israelis are seeking an end
to violence.

Words, words.
What use are words?

The Israelis are only attacking
“militants”.
Have they ever considered
what creates a militant?

What is a “militant” ?
Maybe people who are fighting back?
To stop them fighting back
maybe you shouldn't attack.

The Israelis say
we are only attacking “militants”.
We are not attacking “civilians”.

Bombs are falling.
Tanks are shelling.
Helicopter gunships are strafing.
But they are not attacking “civilians”.
They are “discriminating”.
Oh yes they are.

Words, words.

They are “discriminating”.
Only attacking human beings,
a university,
a police station,
people leaving prayers outside a mosque,
a United Nations school.
Completely “accidentally”
bombs fall on houses.

Peace?
Civilians?
Militants?
Discriminating?
Accidentally?

Words, words.
What do words mean?

Who needs words?
Forget words.
We are not fooled by words.
There are too many words.

Statesmen
(what is a statesman?)
urge peace talks.
More words.

There have been peace talks for decades.
What use have they been?
Don't answer.
We don't need more words.
The Palestinians don't need words.
They need justice.

Words are camouflage.
If politicians
cannot say something meaningful
let them be quiet.
We would welcome the news:
Today no politician spoke.

Let's get to the nitty-gritty.

Who pays the Israelis?
Who supplies weapons to the Israelis?
Who trades with the Israelis?
Who could influence the Israelis?

Do we have moral leaders?
Do we have civilised leaders?
Do we have leaders
who understand the meaning
of their own words?
Do we have leaders who really
give a damn?

Could they stop the torture
of the Palestinian people?

Could they stop the persecution
of the Palestinian people?

Could they stop the robbery,
the imprisonment and murder
of the Palestinian people?

We are facing
avoidable human suffering.

The whole world knows
what is going on.

Should we speak out?
Bleat like lambs?
More words?
What can be done?

We can be sure
that leaders will speak out.

More words.

Words are falling on Gaza.
Words words.

David Roberts

 

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Notes

Mr Brown's comments and "over 700 killed" are from today's ITN website. Other estimates are lower at the moment. Over two and a half thousand have been injured.

Saturday 3rd January 2009

Over 430 killed by Israeli bombing and attacks on the defenceless, besieiged civilian population of Gaza. Over 2000 injured. Medical services overwhelmed. Civilian ministries and police targeted with the apparent purpose of destroying the capacity of the democratically elected Gaza administration to govern Gaza and cause the breakdown of society. Four Israelis killed.

Condemnation from around the world. Protest demonstrations around the world. National demonstration in London today. For information and suggested letters you might write see
http://www.palestinecampaign.org/Index7b.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=3&l2_id=62&Content_ID=350

Saturday 27th December 2008
Israel mounts an horrific atack on the mini state of Gaza which they have been beseiging and starving of resources since the spring of 2006. By today (Tuesday 30th December 2008) 350 Palestinians have been killed including many civilians. Over 1000 have been injured, many seriously. Tthe medical resources in this beseiged area have been overwhelmed. There are no more hospital beds and many essential medical supplies have run out. A mosque and a university have been attacked. Four Israelis have been killed.

For sixty years the Israelis have been determined to take Palestinian land by force and to crush all Palestinian opposition by violence. A spokesman on BBC yesterday spoke of  stopping Palestinian violence once and for all, the same message they started with. (Palestinian violence being sporadic and ineffective attempts to hit back at the agressors, their persecutors, the Israeli state.)

The following poem was received this morning, Tuesday 30 December 2008):

Sixty
Sixty years now of a theft and terror plan,
Ordered by ministers sounding American.
Has it worked ? Does the violence cease ?
In Persia does a Jew enjoy more peace.

Babies born at checkpoint; rifles pointing.
Judicial murder God's new martyrs anointing,
A people starved of education and respect,
Does peaceful co-existence never beget.

The Janus face of diplomatic high sham ,
Says 'boo' again to the friend of Uncle Sam.
Who but Allah and Hamas will they thank,
As they stare into the barrel of a Zionist tank ?

Richard Arnold
Monday, December 29, 2008  
Richard Arnold, copyright, 2008.

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Palestine/Israel (2005)

It is tragically ironic that many of the survivors of widespread persecution in Europe and the Holocaust in particular, and their relations and descendants, the Israelis, have themselves become persecutors in Israel/Palestine.

              "It is a strange story: some might say

              Beyond belief, that a people who

              Suffered persecution

              Would so soon become the torturers

              Of others."

Not all Israelis support their government's policy, but opposition is difficult. Many Jews outside Israel feel a deep anger and shame about what has been done is being done to this day in Palestine to the Palestinians.

Felicity Currie is herself a Jew and she makes her feelings and views plain in these three powerful  and complex poems.

Once more unto the breach…

1

Once more the con of that debasing call

Thralls us to savagery.  The right to kill

Is ours.  Of course - for west is best of all

And east is east, the least, the beast that will

Devour, devalue what our God made good:

Like us, the way we are, our sovereign greed.

Call it democracy.  That, understood,

Translates bloody rapacity as need.

Once more, again, forever, that word breach

Defines us: breach of promise, breach of trust…

We practise every breach our leaders preach -

Keep captives safe for torture and for lust.

 

Our noble dead live on enshrined in fame;

Theirs rot without a number or a name.

 

2

 

I'll tell you what I call a breach of faith:

A Jew by birth and nurture, I believed

That Zionism meant the promised land

For Jew and Arab working hand in hand.

Now, as I dare to say I was deceived,

I face each night my father's vengeful wraith.

 

Well, let me be a traitor to my race.

The truth has to be told by Jews like me:

I see an Israel with a Nazi face,

A Lebensraum as plain as plain can be,

The victims of the Holocaust betrayed,

Invoked to justify that crime remade

 

You take the name in vain.  Hear, Israel!

It's your barbarity that makes our world a hell.

 

Felicity Currie

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The quality of mercy

Think dark.  Dig deep.  Now throw away the soil

That masks and marks the meanings we have lost:

Mass graves of wormy words.  No flesh and blood -

Worn origins of speech, maimed skeletons

Of a species with a bastard progeny:

What's left of language.  Prodigal, undead,

Not mute but mutant.  How it twists and turns

To uncreate!  We say not what we do.

 

Take mercy (having lost it).  Take the trail

That leads abusers to a resurrected ghost.

The thing we killed may yet be understood -

Not felt, perhaps, by brute automatons,

But sensed as concept, essence, quality,

Like-whatness.  Ghost with ghastly tale unsaid,

A word unmeant for kindness justly earns

The right to say its truth, if not to make it true. 

    "I have known what it is to be loved,

                Cherished:

    I am first-born.  If meaning is lived,

                Nourished,

    As the scion whose sign spells the blood

                Of the breed,

    Those core values ingested as food

                For a Creed,

    I am worth your belief.  More than good

                I am goods.

    Where's the mercy in merchandise, then?

                Vanity!

    I call merchants and mercenaries men -

                Humanity.

    Find a place where no pitiless barter

                Flourished;

    Or a time when no pitying martyr

                Perished;

    Or a word that could turn the world round

            In a flash -

    Changing goods into good, telling power

                Of pity,

    So that arms become alms and the poor

                Run the City…

    Merci!  Give me my money's worth.  My pound

                Of flesh."

2

How rare to coin a word that finds us out,

That absolutely tells us as we are:

Creators of a language that can lie,

Letters to kill the spirit that gives life,

To spell the grossly human as humane -

Converting goods to good.  Our crudest scam

Is mercy: now, as in its history.

For mercy has no pity; leaves no doubt

Our hearts are tangled in its roots.  As far

As Latin takes us back to base, we try

In vain to conjure harmony from strife.

Somehow the Church chose mercy to explain

Commerce as pity: whether to bless or damn

The good of goods remains a mystery.

                But why?  Why?

    How can we live and let the word lie

                Counterfeit, sullied?

    It's not as if a hellish void

    Had to be harrowed for a reborn

                Sanctified word:

    The fifth Beatitude unheard

                Unspoken, torn

    From utterance, unmade

    Unless mercy vouched it valid.

                Jerome trusted

    Misericordia, bonding the human heart

    With pity.  Why have we lost it?

    The lost is not found if we start

    From a coinage like mercy.  They knew -

    They must have known, those holy scholars -

    The word was murky.  Murky as hell.

    False coin, cruel hire, rotten bribe, hard sell;

    Pay as punishment, interest now due

    In the currency that kills - mercy as dollars.

3

Shakespeare - you should be living at this hour:

To see a world that vindicates your choice

Of rampant, racist, mercenary power

As local habitation and as voice

For mercy.  And the burning question's this:

"Which is the merchant here and which the Jew?"

This is to be or not to be - what is

And what is not.  It's either me or you.

Which is the Jew and which the terrorist?

Who spits upon the Muslim gaberdine?

Who calls upon the godly to enlist

In dirty wars against those deemed unclean?

 

The quality of mercy's here to stay

In Gaza, Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay…

 

And yet

There's something in these words that makes us yearn

To find a time, a culture and a home

That honour them in practice.

                                To forget

That language never works to make us learn

To live by any selfless paradigm.

 

The poetry holds.

                     The centre falls apart

As it is surely meant to, even in speech

That seems so lucid in its certainties.

Why such a melody?  Why so much art

To woo a currish reprobate?  To reach

A beast remote from human sympathies?

This 'mercy' isn't meant to turn a Jew

Into a kosher Christian.

                          Mockery.

The Jew's a hostage to the Christian need

To bless and sanctify the mercantile -

The good of goods, fair trade;

                                romantic argosies

That fleece uncultured distant shores for gold

"And many a purchas'd slave".

                                This sceptred isle,

This mercenary land, this gentile breed

Engenders profit free from usury.

God bless the myth of capital, the true

Blue blood of murder: mercy bought and sold.
 

4

If there is gentle rain, it falls upon

Contaminated ground: deaf ears and hearts

Of stone - yes!

                           Pitiful oxymoron

For humans made inhuman.  And what hurts

Is how we find the words for callousness,

Cast them adrift as clichés with no bite.

Who gives a damn?

                                  What's all the fuss about?

Slaughter of Innocents?  Who could care less?

A plea for mercy hits the target when

That place, the place that hurts, is named and shamed:

Deaf ears and stony hearts of "temporal power".

 

Shakespeare turns

                     unbelievably, amazingly

From demonised murderous Jew

To "the mighty", the few

Who rage against the many -

                                heartbreakingly

Posits a superpower that can be tamed,

Might surrendered for 'mercy'.  Every hour

Of time's potential butchery redeemed.

                                        What then?

 

A tale, a different tale, told by a poet

(Idiot?)

Singing of mercy, pity, clemency

          (Music of an eleison)

Where there is only sound and fury, still

And always signifying nothing.

"It is enthroned in the hearts of…"?

Let's start with Nero.

Seneca found him the model of clementia,

                                        aged eighteen.

So merciful he wept to put his name

To the death warrant of two thieves.

"Would I had never learnt to write",

                                         he sobbed

And wrote it.

(Jesus saved one thief upon the cross.)

 

You could say Seneca was not to know

His protégé might not turn out to be

The prototype of mercy.  Even so

It would be comforting to think that he

Felt just a little queasy when he wrote

To justify (before a fussy senate)

The gory end of Nero's mother.  Note:

Nothing survives to say he wept to pen it.

 

Not so for Shakespeare's merciful Queen Bess:

Left Mary Queen of Scots for twenty years

Plotting in prison.

                    Then, under duress

(No doubt), and mindful of the fears

Of her dear subjects,

                          finally got rid of her -

Sanctioned the murder

                        but withheld her signature.

 

5

Now we are graced by democratic tyrants,

Elected Neroes ratified by God

Corpsed by us in the flesh: Sharon and Bush.

The thing itself, immaculate, unst(r)ained -

The quality of mercy-killing.

                               Jew

And Christian in imperial harmony,

Showering their brand of gentle rain:

A global warring on the place beneath.

Iraq, twice blessed; lucky Afghanistan,

And biblically Judaic Palestine.

 

Poetry makes nothing happen.  True.

A Jew like me still needs to have a bash.

I'll tell it straight.  I'll lay it on the line.

It's time to ban

Commerce with Israel.

                        What god

Would ever have the chutzpah to bequeath

Another's land for pillage?

                              Hell's hegemony

Is rampant there, and we nod in compliance.

 

What role is there for clemency?  What hope?

Shakespeare led me to Seneca.  They share

This (crazed?) belief that mercy is conjoined

With power.  That it has to be.

                                Let's see.

Give peace a chance.  We've tried atrocity.

 

Vengeance, atrocity, savagery, madness.

Seneca's words

For a world where rulers do not

Show mercy.

Mercy is our word, our moneyed heir

To Seneca's clementia.

                        We've con-signed

Clemency (heartless conspiracy?)

To legalese or vagaries of weather,

If not to ignorant oblivion.

Now we need to remember our need

(In our want, our poverty, our meanness of spirit)

Of mercy as a word rich enough to express

The value of a good above all other.

 

Yes.  Our mercy, Seneca's clementia,

Defines, as only language can,

The quality of humanity.  The word

Is flesh, has substance.  We are

But walking shadows.

 

In the dim light where shadows rule,

Through a glass darkly

We scan an argument for the sovereignty

Of mercy.

Mercy chooses life: freedom of choice

The letter of the law can never have,

Judging not by the letter (sub formula),

But what is fair and good.

Justice can never be threatened

By mercy.

How can one virtue undermine another?

The opposite of mercy is not law

But lawlessness.  Barbarity, the power

That wields the sword because it fears it:

Pre-emptive violence, privilege

Of the axis of -

           superior weaponry.

 

A merciful ruler is unafraid

To let his 'enemies' go unharmed -

Recognising that they have the right

To claim an honest cause: a fight

For just beliefs and equal liberty.

Imagine all the people living free

If our Nerotic Bush had given pause

Before decreeing 'terror' Uncaused Cause,

And claiming mandate from his friend in heaven

For boundless vengeance after 9/11.

 

A merciful ruler doesn't even need

To feel pity.

Seneca discards misericordia

As a weakness that clouds reason:

Pity sees the plight, but not the cause.

Mercy and reason, like mercy and justice,

Are cognate virtues.

What about this, Necrose Sharon?

The wise and merciful ruler

(with tranquil mind and face under control)

Will inter the carcase of an enemy

Considered to be a criminal.

Who, then, was the criminal

That found no burial place for Yasser Arafat

In raped Jewrusalem?

 

Seneca posits a world

Where true happiness is the saving of life.

Not trophies wrenched from the vanquished

Nor chariots stained with barbarian blood.

This is mercy: the 'godlike' use of power

(We might prefer to call it 'human').

 

But he also foresees our world:

Not the quality of mercy, but its opposite.

Indiscriminate killing,

Conflagration and ruin

Starting small (maybe), but spreading

To the wiping out of nations.  

Genocide.

              WMDs.

Weapons of fire, flames hurled

Upon the roofs of houses,

Ploughs driven over ancient cities.

A show of power,

                     a ruthless shower,

A hard rain's a-gonna fall.

 

Felicity Currie

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Optical Illusion

 

It was just the kind of day for feeling

Myself.  In myself, by myself, only

Me.  Looking outside

                        justified

Introspection: gunmetal sky

Waiting to download.  Already printed,

The pavement displayed its coat

Of many colours: radiant spew,

Takeaways almost as good as new

And dog shit…

                NO FOULING

Snarls the lamppost, with a punier note

Threatening fines for dog-owners.  Why

Pick on me?  I bag it up, fresh minted,

Every time (honest).

                        Just because I'm lonely

Doesn't make me guilty.  Anyway

What makes a dog's arse so much less appealing

Than a human mouth?  

                          We pick our way,

My dog and me, and it isn't him that's growling.

 

Now we've turned the corner.  That's when stuff

Gets better isn't it?  Look up, take heart

(If not give it):

                A change is gonna come.

I know too well the way before me.  Grim,

Grimy (decent) suburban road to a field

Desecrated most by those who'd never mark

Their sacred lawns.

                        Even as the wind whips

Rain in my eyes, I look for hope ahead.

Sure enough,

Distant, but so distinctly marked apart

From the normal blur in the bleary air,

I conjure up a Chapman work of art

Before I see the man in his wheel chair.

That's it.  I never thought my day would yield

A misery worse than mine.

                                What shits would park

A cripple on the pavement?  Get rid of him

By exposure - his, not theirs?

                                Is he dumb?

No strength to heave his protest to his lips?

No sign from houses close about him…

Is he dead?

 

Why can't I run to him?  Maybe disbelief

Or fear

Keeps me at normal pace.  Only my heart

Races.  Slowly new details surprise.

The mop of white hair so perfectly in place,

Groomed, even.  Untouched by wind or rain.

Is this man or woman?  Clothes not clear

Yet, but I sense the unnaturally smart,

New and clean.  Bright.  As if dressed

For an occasion in abandonment.

No harm done.  

                     If anyone has messed

With this old stick they've left no damning trace.

No foul play, as the gruesome saying goes.

Nothing that shows.

Dis-played here, a respectable demise

For all to see.  For me to see.  I'm here.

You want a laugh?  Some light relief?

This figure has no face.

No name, no sex, no martyrdom, no pain.

Only reality's dismemberment.

 

Stacked on the pavement, left against a wall

Right against a tree

Those barriers workmen erect

Around their caverns in the ground,

Festooned with painted stripes

Signalling danger.  But now

I walk straight through the space

And safely gaze

At where my cripple never was.

So my eyes deceived me.

Yet I suspect

A deeper, darker truth behind it all.

Horror and guilt that follow me around,

Wells of inner tears no pleasure ever wipes

Away.  I'm living in another place -

Because, because, because

My Jewish race

Fouls the earth of Palestine.  No matter how

I hide my eyes, that filthy image stays.

 

It is a strange story: some might say

Beyond belief, that a people who

Suffered persecution

Would so soon become the torturers

Of others.

Seeing is believing.  There is a child,

Iman al-Hams is her name.

Once her family lived secure,

Prospered, like others, in their homeland.

Now they are penned in ghettoes, branded

An inferior race.

Iman is thirteen, but undersized

She looks ten, at most.

Does she know, today,

Dreaming, perhaps, of a place to play,

That she has wandered too

Close to nightmare?  See how unsure

She looks.  Here are no nurturers,

Teachers, playmates, sisters, brothers.

Lost,

Stranded

In a savage desert wild

With 'human' beasts of prey

Who see the terror on her face,

She is the thing despised

And

Yet most prized -

Target practice, game for execution.

 

Soldiers of the Chosen People, (or

Is it the Master Race?)

Know an enemy when they see one:

Believing is seeing

And their Belief is always right.

They see a child, a girl they think is ten -

Small, anyway,

"Scared to death",

"Running defensively eastward".

But she's one of them, isn't she?

Once she would have been wearing

The yellow star.  Not a human being.

Someone shoots.  He has to.  Then

Herr Kommandant strides forward with his gun

Loaded.  That shot has made his day.

Now he's where he wants to be

Now he gets her face to face.

Now he can blast the breath

Out of her.  Watch every bullet tearing

Her apart.  Not just her.  Fight

The good fight.  In shooting her

He kills every 'terrorist' bastard.

He'd shoot her even if she was three -

Again, again, again, again…

 

How can a family mourn

Over a child's body torn

By seventeen bullets, with no hope

Of justice?  How do they cope

With a killer who will never bear the blame?

The murderer who dares not speak his name.

Just Captain R,

As in Rabbi.  Well, Captain R,

A braver world will find out who you are.

Some day, some time, someone will not stay dumb:

Some day, some time, A change is gonna come.

 

3

 

All that we see or seem

Is not a dream within a dream.

The thousands who have lost

Freedom of passage in their native land

Are Palestinians.  At roadblocks Jews,

Fascist dictators,

Marshall the daylong miserable queues

Of those they've beggared.  Subjected

Objects.  Does this strike a chord?

Ah yes!  'Oy! Oy! What music to the ears!

Look at this gonif with a violin!

Who does he think he is - a mensch like us?

What do you say?

Make him play

For laughs?  Something real nice and sad.'

(Like the Hatikvah?  I wish he had.)

Of course we do our best to understand

How lads under this daily stress get bored

With tame humiliation.

If power turned their heads, even affected

Their wits and made them imitators

Of those music maestros of the Holocaust,

They don't bring shame upon the Jewish nation.

 

There are no limits to the degradation

Legitimately,

Indiscriminately

Inflicted upon the stigmatised race.

Alive, it is a man playing a violin

Defiled in Nazi style.

Dead,

(But still a pleasure to deface)

A man's head

Is mounted on a pole;

A cigarette alight and fresh

Invades the mouth's corroded flesh.

Thus the sons of Belial

Reincarnate

Degenerate

In Israel

Can mock and thrust.

How satisfying to have found your role:

To smile and smile

(And be a villain)

And know your cause is just.

 

The dead head on the pole

(How many, Lord, how many?)

Has no voice, no identity.

The man who played

To jeers

Sad music on his violin,

Wissam Tayem,

Meant to be lost in non-entity,

Is known because a group of women

(Not just pacifists

But peace activists)

Have not forgotten how to be human

Among their brute bothers.

They shoot with cameras.  For them

The truth confronts the hideous doctrine

By which these Zion-Nazis stand betrayed -

"The Purity of Arms".  An ideology

Appears,

A codicil to Mosaic theology,

Eleventh Commandment: There is no toll

To pay; nor is there any

Law above the Jew's right to kill others.

 

Eyes for an eye.

You'd think the Holocaust would bring

An empathy with suffering,

Instead the Jewish State

Impelled by racist hate

Propagates the lie

Of Arab evil and aggression.

And so they take possession

Of land and more land

Knowing that the world will understand.

What nation can afford the error

Of unbelief in Muslim Terror?

 

Who has the Nuclear Power?

Who has the might of arms,

The tyranny of money?

Let's change places

Between the warring races.

Make America Iraq

And Israel Palestine.

Under attack,

Living on the breadline,

What defines a terrorist

And who denies the right to resist?

Funny

How the feeblest strike alarms

The occupying force, when hour

By hour they bomb and devastate

The lives of thousands.  

                        Let them wait

And tremble.  Every time a David meets

Goliath there's a twist of fate,

Some

Form in chaos that defeats

The primacy of force.

Of course

It may still be a dim and distant day

Beyond our vision.  But I hear the hum

Of mighty workings, and I say

A change is gonna come.

Felicity Currie

Copyright © 2005 Felicity Currie

Free use on the internet/web and small-scale not for profit publications. Please acknowledge author, Felicity Currie, and this web site, and notify the editor.

copyright in the poemson this page and throughout this website is held by the authors.

Web site page. Copyright © 2005, 2008, 2009 David Roberts

To top of page

A life is a life 

We see for fourteen you kill nine hundred, are yours worth so much more

Then all the weeping of Palestine, who cannot fight an equal war

So this is your new holocaust, although you call it something else

You split Gaza into three, herding the old and weak like cattle

Surely you remember this; you have been here before, not so long ago, I fear

Pity the nation who thinks its self right; pity its people who forget how they died

 

©Marguerite Rami, 2009

 

WHY? 

They are killing hundreds of people without batting an eye

While the rest of the world stands idly by

In Gaza they’re mourning a child blown up in their bed

Whilst by others, it seems, barely a tear is shed

 

Where else in the world could this injustice be done

To people who are trapped with nowhere to run

It’s no longer a case of who’s right or who’s wrong

But a case of the weak being attacked by the strong

 

So with naked aggression the bombs keep falling

Killing babies and children. It’s just appalling

Why do these innocent lives need to be lost

It seems that the objective is not worth the cost.

 

There must be a way to stop this massacre now.

We can’t wait for world leaders to figure out how

The UN has no power, so it would seem

If they had then surely they would intervene

 

The power in this world is held by a select few

And they will never listen to me or you.

They have their own agendas, disregarding the law

And justify murder by dressing it up as a war

 

So, how many more people are going to die in vain

And how long can these parents bear the pain

Of losing the lights of their lives in this way?

I fear that there will be a very high price to pay. 

 

© Stella Mortazavi

2008

To top of page

 

War Crimes and other information from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Day 18 – Gaza Update from PSC

917 dead – 3056 injured

News from the Front Line

PSC has obtained detailed evidence of the war crimes being committed by the Israeli Defence force. The graphic details of the death and destruction of the lives of almost a thousand people in Gaza is utterly chilling and every supporter of the PSC should take the time to read the document that has been supplied to us by Al Mezan in Gaza.

To read the full report click on this link

 http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index7b.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=4&l2_id=25&Content_ID=401

The momentum for an official investigation into Israel’s war crimes is building. Senior UN officials have described the shelling of Palestinian homes in the Gaza as ‘Reckless and indiscriminate.’ They have also attacked the grotesque use of Gazan families as human shields by the IDF.

At a meeting of the UN’s most powerful human rights committee yesterday, they passed a motion describing Israel’s actions in Gaza as a ‘Massive violation of human rights.’

The UN, the International Red Cross and the highly respected independent NGO Human Rights Watch have accused the Israeli Government of committing the following atrocities over the last 17 days.

• Using powerful shells in civilian areas which the army knew would cause large numbers of innocent casualties;

• Using banned weapons such as phosphorus bombs;

• Holding Palestinian families as human shields;

• Attacking medical facilities, including the killing of 12 ambulance men in marked vehicles;

• Killing large numbers of police who had no military role.

PSC is supporting all those who are working towards bringing those who have committed war crimes in the military campaign in Gaza.

For more stories about Israel’s war crimes click on the following links

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/13/gaza-israel-war-crimes

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/01/12/israel-end-gaza-s-humanitarian-crisis-once

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/01/12/deprived-and-endangered-humanitarian-crisis-gaza-strip

No Home and Now No Voice

The Israeli Election Court has just ruled that the two Arab political parties in Israel will not be allowed to put up candidates in the forthcoming General Election in Israel. The decision is in complete violation of the UNs Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

 Only one other regime has ever been as explicit in their decisions to disenfranchise voters on the basis of their race, and that was the appalling apartheid regime of South Africa. The only way the Israeli Government can avoid being held in the same contempt as the racist government of South Africa is to allow all its citizens the right to vote. 

You can find out more on the campaign for voting rights in Israel by clicking this link

http://mossawacenter.org

27 January 2009

Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for the people of Gaza

Latest Appeals

22 Jan: Aid agencies launch joint appeal to relieve Gaza humanitarian crisis

Leading UK aid agencies are today (Thursday, 22 January) appealing to the public for urgently needed funds to help ease the desperate plight of people affected by the conflict in Gaza.

Launching the Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza Crisis Appeal, chief executive Brendan Gormley said that the devastation wrought in the Gazan territory was so huge that British aid agencies were compelled to act.

Over 1,300 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, and many thousands have been injured, overwhelming local hospitals. The destruction has left people without homes and many children without schooling; power, food and water supplies are insufficient to cover the population’s needs.

Mr Gormley said: “DEC agencies have a humanitarian mandate. We are not proposing to attempt to rebuild Gaza – that is not our role. But with the public’s support we can help relieve short-term needs. Agencies are already providing food, drugs and blankets as well as delivering clean water.

“But we will soon reach the limit of what we can do, without more money.  For Gazans struggling to survive, receiving urgent humanitarian aid will help them take the first step to recovery.”

Mr Gormley stressed that DEC aid agencies were non-political. “We work on the basis of humanitarian need and there is an urgent need in Gaza today. Political solutions are for others to resolve, but what is of major concern to us all is that many innocent people have been affected by the situation – and it is them that we seek to help.”

- ENDS -


Notes to editors:

1.   The DEC consists of: Action Aid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, World Vision.

 
2.   The Palestinian Ministry of Heath (MOH) has reported 1,314 Palestinian fatalities since 27 December 2008. This is noted in the Situation Report on the Humanitarian Situation in the Gaza Strip – No.14, 19 January 2009 (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).
 

3.   How to donate:
It’s easy to donate. Please visit our website on www.dec.org.uk or call the DEC on 0370 60 60 900. We know people are facing financially difficult times but even a small donation makes a difference. Even a small donation to the appeal will help get food, water, shelter, emergency and medical supplies to people who desperately need it.
 

4.   The DEC criteria to launch an appeal are:
The disaster must be on such a scale and of such urgency as to call for swift International humanitarian assistance. The DEC agencies, or some of them, must be in a position to provide effective and swift humanitarian assistance at a scale to justify a national Appeal.There must be sufficient public awareness of, and sympathy for, the humanitarian situation so as to give reasonable grounds for concluding that a public Appeal would be successful.

 
5.   For new footage, photographs, case studies and pre-recorded or live interviews with both aid agency staff on the ground and in the UK, please contact the DEC press office on 0207 387 0200 or out-of-hours on 07930 999014.


Also from the Disasters Emergency Committe website:

The situation
After an 18 month blockade of Gaza and three weeks of heavy shelling the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is now completely overwhelming.

  • Thousands of people are struggling to survive with many having lost their homes and most down to their last supplies of food and only limited amounts of fresh drinking water.
  • Just £25 can buy warm blankets for 8 children
  • Just £50 can provide a Food parcel for a family for one month
  • Electricity - supplies to Gaza are erratic at best with 75% of the area cut off completely. There is a significant public health risk arising out of the almost collapse of Gaza’s water and sewage system, the running of which is dependent on electricity.
  • Water - Around 500,000 people are without running water with 37% of Gaza’s water wells not working effectively and fuel reserves depleted due to restrictions on access and damage to pipes.
  • At least 412 Children have been killed and 1,855 injured
  • 60% of the population is living in poverty
  • 1.1 million people are dependent upon aid to survive.
  • Health - The capacity of the health system has been significantly reduced due to the damage of at least 21 clinics. Ten primary health care clinics are functioning as emergency clinics and hospitals and intensive care units continue to treat the mass casualties.

To donate go the the Committee's website  http://www.dec.org.uk/item/200

End of page.  

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