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A Sense of Tragedy

by Zettel 

Posted: 14 November 2015
Word Count: 149
Summary: I wrote this after the 7/7 bombings in London. It still sums up my feelings on this very dark day

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A Sense Of Tragedy

Turn your eyes
our pain
I beg of you
look look
see what you
yes you
not your God
have done

Wash your hands
not of
our blood
feel feel
sense the hate
you yes you
not your God

Come close,
to the whisper
of our fear
hear hear
the cry of justice
you yes you
not your God
have stilled

Smell our flesh
life’s fragrance gone
shame's odour clings
smell smell
the rankness
of tarnished faith
you yes you
not your God
have betrayed

Taste the fetid air
choking hope
savour love’s despair
taste taste
the spice of hate
the salt with which
you yes you
not your God
have seasoned death

Sense the senselessness
of your act
see feel hear our loss
think think
we are your sons
your daughters, who
you yes you
God help you
have destroyed

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 14:42 on 14 November 2015  Report this post
If you go back to your Remembrance Day poem, you'll find I've added a further comment. I'll comment on this one soon.



And now there's yet another comment!

James Graham at 20:27 on 16 November 2015  Report this post
We now have the latest scenes in Paris to read into this poem. It’s a difficult subject to write about because the mindset and motives of suicide bombers are so far beyond the reach of our understanding. But I think you have achieved something with this poem.
It passionately addresses these irrational beings, and (as I read it) comes across in rather a special way. It reads as a passionate but desperate and unavailing plea. As I read through the stanzas the impression grows that it is an appeal that will not be heard. If that is so, the poem is indirectly saying that there are human beings with whom one cannot communicate. And for me that’s the strength of the poem. We have to think, if these people are beyond appeals to humanity and reason, what is to be done?
I think the structure of the poem is very effective and supports this interpretation. There is the six-times repeated ‘you yes you’: long before the imaginary hearer, even if gagged and tied to a chair, is being told that ‘you yes you’ must think, he has closed his mind.
The repetition too of ‘look look’, ‘feel feel’ and so on through the senses – each stanza being relevant to each particular sense – makes the poem an appeal to the whole person, to all faculties including the mind. The cumulative sense, though, is that however comprehensive the appeal, it will fail.
I don’t know if you see the poem in this way, but for me this sense of a futile appeal to humanity is its strength – because it’s true. Any such appeal would be futile.
Having said that, something occurs to me which qualifies it. Imagine a young man who is influenced by religious radicalism but still uncommitted. If he were spoken to by another Muslim along the lines of your poem, he might be rescued. I recently met, through a friend, a man who is one of the leaders of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, a sect of Islam totally opposed to radical ideology and violence. For all I know this man may already have saved a number of teenage boys from plumbing the depths.
As I say, the tragedy in Paris makes this poem even more relevant. And even though ‘poetry makes nothing happen’, a strong statement of humane values is always worthwhile.

Zettel at 02:11 on 17 November 2015  Report this post
Thanks James

I couldn't write anything on this kind of horrific event at first because it seemed impossible to say anything that would do justice to the horror of the events; not just the appalling violence and pitiless cruelty but also the most chilling aspects - that these were carefully planned, meticulously organised and ruthlessley executed and for diabolically clever political purposes. It also seemed perilously close to bad taste.

Two things changed my mind: first we now know that over half the suicide bombers amd killers in recent years, were, contrary to the comfort of false belief, not poor impoverished, vulnerable, suggestible young people but well-educated, intelligent middle-class students or professionals. That makes it even more chilling but also seems to demand that somehow we much engage with these brutal mediaeval conceptions. We cannot just let them go unchallenged. The  best way to do this of course is to capture and subject the perpetrators to the rigorus demands of due judicial process during which they will be called to justify, account for, defend their heinous ideology against rational, civilised argument and challenge.

The other thought I had which led me to attempt the poem was the thought that many of them, including horribly, several young mothers; have children, husbands, wives; families themselves. We musr imagine that they are therefore capable of normal human emotions like love and loyalty, fear and hope. I tried to address my poem away from ideas and intellect towards the visceral reality of human life. The preciousness of the blood and tissue of all human beings that constitutes their unique value as human beings and which their actions so gratuitously destroyed. Hopeless though it may be I wanted to try to suggest that these individuals capable of loving their own might try to think of us as human, fragile, vulnerable as well. Like you I am not naive enough to imagine that they would listen. But it was at least a way that both eschewed justified but pointless condemnation and the impossibility of rational analysis.

However inadequate, it also seemed to me that we should try at least to recognise the profound importance of such events to us as human beings and not let them pass without every form of challenge and recgnition of the injustice sufferd by the victims. We cannot let passionate advocacy and support be confined to the bigots and nutcases while we remain polite and courteous in our defence of the fundamental values of Western Rational Liberal Culture for which so many other innocent human beings have died in our own history.  In the spirit of this aspiration for the poem I tried to make it as simple, unfussy, direct as possible.

Thanks again for the comments. Given the doubts above it is good to recieve some support for the value of at least trying something so full of ambivalent motivations.

Dave Morehouse at 02:20 on 17 November 2015  Report this post
I, too, love your use of physical senses. It draws me in - even closes around me. This may be akin to James' thought of being bound and gagged.

The short stacatto delivery reminds me of gunfire from an automatic weapon. The structure of this poem, as such, fits and even accents the theme.

This is good work on a depressing subject. Thanks for bringing it back; I wish there wasn't a reason to do so. 


Zettel at 13:57 on 17 November 2015  Report this post
Thanks Dave. Your thoughts are much appreciated especially on a poem generating such ambivalent feelings - as it should.



V`yonne at 13:00 on 25 November 2015  Report this post
I was thinking that if you take out the 'your' before God in each place, the poem becomes more universal. Becusase violence is perpetrated by all religions and in the name of all sorts of gods and 'your God' seems as if 'our God' is somehow better and that is part of the problem. I mean I grew up in a place where christians killed christians (so-called) because of sectarianism. God is and always has been mankind's excuse.

I like the structure of this poem. It's very fitting. I like the way it uses repetition which is also fitting of such recurrent evil. And I also love the use of the sences especiallty:

taste taste
the spice of hate
the salt with which
you yes you
not your God
have seasoned death

I don't know why -- maybe because of the taste of blood and maybe because the whole concept of violence leaves a bad taste in the mouth or maybe because it makes the poem taste bitter in a way.

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