Today, after reading some war poetry, an Israeli student and I engaged in some heated discussion about post 9-11 politics.
That's the kind of shit you can't make up.
The poems are part of my syllabus in English Composition II, Writing on Literature. I teach the course at McDaniel, and this semester I choose to focus on the literature of war. We start with "The Iliad" and finish with "The Things They Carried". It's a wild ride.
To find poetry, I took a random swat at stuff lying around on the Internet. The last few that we read are very contemporary, and the last two are a bit political. The first is "
Then we got to "The Daisy Cutter". Now, I don't really like the poem, but I felt I should include at least one straight-up anti-war poem. (I did have them read Crane's "War is Kind", but that poem is more about the contradictory nature of the way we understand and rationalize war. It frowns on our insincerity in times of war, but I don't think it condemns war outright.) I am a bit uncomfortable with the preachy sarcasm and the prescriptive theme in "The Daisy Cutter", but I thought opening by drawing a parallel between the Taliban and a Christian martyr was interesting. The poem ends up suggesting that going to war after 9-11 was a shallow effort at revenge. Maybe not the most profound stuff, but it gets freshmen talking. Anyway, Avi couldn't stand it. He suggested that I would burn such verse if I had lost a family member in the attacks. We went round and round for a bit. I suggested his point of view was myopic. He told me Americans don't understand the enemy. I asked if he were accused of murder, would he want the grieving mother to serve as the judge in his case. Eventually we had to bring things to a close, but I thought I'd share.
Now here's some Willie.