Saturday, December 27, 2008

"A Long Way from Order": On the Death of Harold Pinter and Protest Poetry

Harold Pinter, Nobel Laureate and one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century, died this week. Although he was not known principally for his poetry, his 2003 collection, War, brought him widespread attention for its excoriation of the imperial motives and operations of the United States in Iraq. It's by no means great poetry--in any sense of the term--except, perhaps for the publicity it engendered by its doggereled outspokenness, its blistering outrage.

Here are some of the poems, both prior to and after that collection, including this one:

Order (12 September, 1996)

Are you ready to order?
No there is nothing to order
No I'm unable to order
No I'm a long way from order
And while there is everything,
And nothing, to order,
Order remains a tall order
And disorder feeds on the belly of order
And order requires the blood of disorder
And 'freedom' and ordure and other disordures
Need the odour of order to sweeten their murders
Disorder a beggar in a darkened room
Order a banker in a castiron womb
Disorder an infant in a frozen home
Order a soldier in a poisoned tomb

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