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Hearts and Minds

by Zettel 

Posted: 15 November 2004
Word Count: 159
Summary: This isn't very good - but the anger has to go somewhere.

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Hearts and Minds

Hearts and minds, hearts and minds
if we can break their grieving hearts
and make them lose their anguished minds
and set dismembered bodies free
in pious hope we think they will
salute our victory.

Hearts and minds, hearts and minds
a nation born in genocide
with self-regarding destiny
in breach of Christian charity
with naked power and careless force
asserts supremacy.

Hearts and minds, hearts and minds
our gallant mis-led men of arms
by air and sea and infantry
risk life and limb and honesty
for power-hungry venal men
blind to obscenity.

Hearts and minds, hearts and minds
each death will strengthen their resolve
injustice enemies unites
the innocent as ever, die
trapped by the pride of either side
and no one hears their cry.

Hearts and minds, hearts and minds
the love of justice will abide
though we learn nought from history
repeat its lethal legacy
the only absolute is life
sacred humanity.


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Comments by other Members

Don Gorgon at 23:21 on 15 November 2004  Report this post
Very nice Zettel and a very productive way to channel your vexation! Unfortunately, as you point out in your work, we never learn from history! What is the point in making humungus mistakes, like humankind has/does, if we don't learn from them. I don't want to get started on this or there'll be an essay here in the morning! Strong work Zettel.



Ticonderoga at 15:38 on 16 November 2004  Report this post
You do yourself a great injustice, Z; this is very powerful, immediate, and moving. In fact, very good indeed.


The Walrus at 19:59 on 16 November 2004  Report this post
As Don says, we never learn from history. The strength of outrage speaks loudly.

The Walrus

Chem at 20:10 on 16 November 2004  Report this post
Yes, this really is an incredibly powerful piece! I very much enjoyed it Zettel.

Zettel at 21:16 on 16 November 2004  Report this post
Ti, Chem and Wal

Thanks. My comments were not mock modesty - hate that. Always a little wary of trying to express both something political and to do with people who are suffering intolerably when I am sitting in my nice warm world and my nice warm life.

If this captures even a tiny bit of the outrage I feel and the appalling reality these people face - more than content. I comfort myself with the thought that, however inadequate, to express some recognition of the always appalling plight of ordinary people caught up in the mesh of international politics has some value, however small.



James Graham at 11:38 on 17 November 2004  Report this post
'Hearts and minds' - such a vile phrase in the mouths of the warmongers, a corruption of language. Your anger communicates strongly, and I think it's partly because the poem is full of apposite phrases and lines. It's not at all vague, not a sort of loose-cannon protest. It's not firing indiscriminately, not a generalised protest against the awfulness of war generally but specific to the current war. Specific to America, 'a nation born in genocide/with self-regarding destiny' and to its use of 'careless force', a phrase that might I suppose apply to all wars but, on all the evidence, applies very accurately to the US military - and always has, most monstrously in Vietnam. 'Our gallant mis-led men of arms' is a line I'd single out too. 'Gallant' is quite an old-fashioned word, but it still applies to ordinary soldiers, even if they are fighting an illegal and immoral war. 'Mis-led' has (at least) a double meaning: (1) badly led (either incompetently led, and there's evidence for that; or led by people who are morally corrupt) and (2) led into a commitment to an unjust cause. 'Life and limb and honesty' is telling, and seems to apply specially to this war. 'Blind to obscenity' is a good phrase too, and there are others. Then in the last stanza you give 'hearts and minds' some of its human meaning back. Yes, the poem does what you meant it to - expresses (and shares) recognition of the plight of these ordinary people.


engldolph at 16:19 on 17 November 2004  Report this post
Hi Z,

I don't think this is a poem to over-analyse in a technical way ...so, in my mind,the good/bad was not really the question to be answered..

it's a rant..but is an honest one..that's what I liekd... and one in which for me a few lines really lept out and stuck..such as

and set dismembered bodies free
(yes, freedom at what cost)

a nation born in genocide
with self-regarding destiny(powerful way to describe the US)

risk life and limb and honesty
(the word honesty gace it a sharp barb)

repeat its lethal legacy

and I liked the almost nursery rhyme use of , as James mentioned, that awful term "Hearts and Minds"

from my point of view, good stuff..


Zettel at 22:48 on 17 November 2004  Report this post
Mike and James

A cathartic piece like this is obviously very personal and one wonders whether to keep it to oneself asit has so to speak done its works simply by being written down. However there is something important about feeling that others feel the same way and share the frustration and anger. In that spirit therefore - thanks for the comments.

without irony



(And of course when one didn't think things could get worse, yesterday, with appalling and utterly pointless inhumanity - they did).

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