Liz’s Weekend Poetry Series: Hitchens, Iraq, And A Poem By Tadeusz Różewicz

by lizard

So Christopher Hitchens is dead, and the war in Iraq is over. The former said of the latter:

“Will an Iraq war make our Al Qaeda problem worse? Not likely.”

In this specific instance, I think Hitchens is dead wrong. With every duplicitous proclamation from our President’s mouth about this war, America’s credibility worsens, and increases the likelihood of those unfortunate souls on the losing end of these global resource wars to turn to extremism.

For an example of how the President is trying desperately to transform this national disgrace into a rah-rah moment, there’s this little gem from his speech:

Unlike the old empires, we don’t make these sacrifices for territory or for resources. We do it because it’s right.

The Iraq war was wrong. And even if the justification for invading and occupying Iraq wasn’t a nest of lies, it was stupidly prosecuted, rife with malfeasance and corporate grift.

Chris Hitchens is dead, and the war in Iraq is over. Except a writer who is still read is never quite dead, and America’s wars never really end. Below the fold, this weekend’s poem, from Polish poet Tadeusz Różewicz



Lasciate ogni speranza
Voi ch’entrate

all hope abandon
ye who enter here

the inscription at the entrance to hell
in Dante’s Divine Comedy

take heart!

beyond the gateway
there is no hell

hell has been dismantled
by theologists
and psychoanalysts

has been turned into an allegory
for reasons humanitarian
and educational

take heart!
beyond the gateway
there is more of the same

two drunken gravediggers
sit by a hole
they’re drinking non-alcoholic beer
snacking on sausage
winking at us
playing soccer
with Adam’s skull
beneath the cross

the hole waits
for tomorrow’s deceased
the stiff is on its way

take heart!

here we will wait for the final

the pit fills with water
cigarette butts float there

take heart!

and what will there be

there will be stones

upon stone
upon stone a stone
and on that stone

—Tadeusz Różewicz

  1. lizard19

    I’m going to repost a comment I just read about the passing of Christopher Hitchens, at Moon of Alabama, from commenter Copeland:

    Hitchens could, even near the end of his life, write an essay about Lincoln, that did not bear any of the affectation of his public performances. After 9/11 he went nuts and lost his bearings, in a kind of anti-fundamentalist fundamentalism; but in his time he spoke with some eloquence and wit against Reagan and all his works, against the murderous reign of the death squads, against Kissinger. This does not mitigate the sense of loss about his deterioration in the public square; yet it seems to me that he was once a comrade against authoritarian madness, and fought against injustice in his own fashion. How he fell into justifying the Iraq War and the Islamophobic worldview, is perhaps explained in terms of a nervous breakdown. I don’t know; it seem such an incomprehensible departure from what once issued as reason in him.

    What has been said about his vanity and ego is probably true, along with the dogfight-like debates, which were by no means the best of him. I remember reading his essays many years ago, and thinking that he was a good man to have in our corner.

    His personal friend, Robert Sheer, writes of Hitchens:

    Despite the vehemence of our debates, both public and personal, he and his saving grace and wife, Carol Blue, held a gathering at their home to discuss a book I wrote on the subject. This was a man unafraid of intellectual challenge and committed to pursuing the heart of the matter.

    That was his driving force, a seeker of truth to the end, and a deservedly legendary witness against the hypocrisy of the ever-sanctimonious establishment. What zeal this man had to eviscerate the conceits of the powerful, whether their authority derived from wealth, the state or a claim to the ear of the divine.

    Hitch was the opposite of the opportunistic pundits who competed with him for public space. He took immense risks, not the least in offering himself for waterboarding before concluding it was unmistakably torture, or challenging the greatness of God, knowing full well that he was exposing himself as an object of wildly irrational hate.

    To watch the kind of dissipation Hitchens went through is painful, with his former self blurring in the process. There was too much drinking, too much grandstanding, too much desire to play the enfant terrible of the Left. Who can occupy such a personal space of ego while our history every day grows sicker. But it is my instinct to feel sad for him, for the fall any human being may suffer, to remember his acts of personal courage, and his talent which once counted for something.

  2. lizard19

    I don’t know what about 9/11 might have messed with Hitchens, ’cause the events of that day have been comfortably put to rest, as this youtube vid will clearly demonstrate:

  3. Ingemar Johansson

    Has it all Hitchens, Bush, and Iraq.

  1. 1 An April Feast Of Poetry « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Hitchens, Iraq, and a Poem by Tadeusz Różewicz […]

  2. 2 Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Anticipating April | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Hitchens, Iraq, and a Poem by Tadeusz Różewicz […]

  3. 3 152 Poetry Posts to Celebrate April, National Poetry Month | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Hitchens, Iraq, and a Poem by Tadeusz Różewicz […]

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