Saturday, April 01, 2006

Great War

I am reminded tonight of a Wilfred Owen poem... one of my favorites.

Professor Edward McCrorie at Providence is the kind of guy who has been around forever and consequently has an aura of knowledge and respect. At a poetry reading (where, incidentally, I read the following poem) he made the comment that he enjoyed a poem that was short, to the point, and invoked an emotional reponse. Though I didn't comment on the similarity at the time, the poem I read was similar in that regard. Furthermore, it was in his class that I discovered Wilfred Owen, beyond the whole Dulce et Decorum Est bullshit, which is a fine poem, but has been done to death (but was always good for an easy A on a short paper).

I read this poem because at the time I was feeling the connection between many "Christian" churches and their fervid support of the war in Iraq.

I love the juxtaposition of religion with war (altars = trenches), and it reminds me of modern "religious" leaders urging blind support of our President. And, of course, the image of Abraham refusing to sacrifice Pride in favor of his own son. This is a beautifly simple condemnation of both the religious fervor behind war and the political forces behind the War to End All Wars.

Here 'tis:

The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,

And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! and angel called him out of heaven,

Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,

A ram, caught in a thicket by his horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.


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