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A Poem of Two Chancellors

Regular commenter Niall Kilmartin started writing this poem as part of the Erdogan poetry competition but found his thoughts turning in a different direction:

              A Poem of Two Chancellors

   Though Erdogan is just the man to merit mocking poetry,
   Another leader claims my pen, a graver cause is troubling me:
   I write of Merkel’s acts because they do not cause me levity.
   Oh Angela, was Adolf’s genocidal dream once also thine?
   I doubt it, yet it’s you, not he, who makes your country Judenrein
   (And these days PC tells the Jews it’s hate speech if they dare to whine).

   ”The best man for the job? Why, choose a woman!” – that’s a bitter joke
   When calling doubters ‘Nazis’ is the means by which you meanly cloak
   What kind of ‘refugees’ are brought by all this ‘kindness’ you invoke.
   We know they’re really migrants since we see they mostly are young men.
   We know young men commit most crimes in any group – it follows, then,
   That their rate (high enough at home) must here be multiplied again.

   Think you, if most of them don’t kill, it will not be like World War Two?
   (When, as you know, most Germans did not personally kill a Jew;
   When most are scared or hate-filled, acts of killing only need a few.)
   Now each one missed by Hitler will be hissed or spoken of likewise
   By migrants who care not if they are heard by one, percentage-wise
   from that subgroup who won’t just talk but will make sure that that Jew dies.

   At least I can be glad most Jews you rule can flee abroad (absurd
   that they’ll be refugees for real – and so will be by you ignored).
   A few new graves, attracting vandals hypocritically deplored,
   Alone will then commemorate them, those canaries in the mine.
   Oh Angela, was Adolf’s genocidal dream once also thine?
   I doubt it, yet it’s you, not he, who makes your country Judenrein.

These two lines made the poem for me:

A few new graves, attracting vandals hypocritically deplored,
Alone will then commemorate them, those canaries in the mine.

Over-fearful? I would be glad to think so. I usually do think so. But the quickest of internet searches throws up recent news stories like this one from Spiegel Online International, “Skepticism of German-Israeli Friendship Growing in Berlin”, and this one from Deutsche Welle (DW), “Immigrants Beyond the Law”. The latter story says that migrants from warzones such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are not particularly criminal but says, ‘It is a completely different story with immigrants from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia though. “Activity quotas” for North Africans are no less than 40 percent.’ Wow. You would never guess from the strapline and first few paragraphs of the DW story that it contained such a statistic as that. Such evasion is typical and does much to increase mistrust.

13 comments to A Poem of Two Chancellors

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall, that is by far the best poem I have ever read on the Internet, other than ones from Established Poets (although for all I know you too are one such 🙂 ).

    It strikes me as better than most of the current crop (last 50 years or so!) of published poetry that I have seen.

    I call it masterful. It has clear and worthwhile content; it both rhymes and scans (with only a few very minor exceptions, which do not trip up the reader nor indicate that the author has a tin ear or a lack of craftsmanship, and which add to the effect of the poem by stopping it from becoming mechanical).

    I thoroughly enjoyed the first two readings and expect to repeat the experience. Well done!

    Natalie, thanks very much for pulling this out the comment stream as a focus of attention.

    Also, thanks for the commentary and the links. Excuse me now, I have to go follow them. :>)

  • Thanks, Julie. I am not a professional poet and this is nearly the first poem I’ve ever written. I looked at the Spectator’s competition (my capitalist principles certainly include getting my hands on £1000 if it’s offered) but I soon realised that being obscene and defamatory about what a turk had or had not done, or should or should not do, with a goat, was not really my talent. (As J.K.Rowling replied when someone asked her what, if anything, transpired between Aberforth and his goats: “I have not the least idea.”) So instead I decided to write about a political obscenity in language that aims to let the obscenity emerge in the thing described, and the ‘defamation’ likewise.

    I like poems, and find some can be useful in politics. For example, if you have the misfortune to meet a Sanders’ supporter, you could try this from Conquest on them:

    There was an old Marxist called Lenin
    Who did two or three million men in.
    That’s a lot to have done in,
    But where he did one in,
    His follower Stalin did ten in.

    These days, asking how things are in Venezuela is probably more something a Sanders’ millennial might at least vaguely have heard of, but I’ve enjoyed reciting that in conversations at times.

    The following limerick I derived from Conquest, adapting it to the US:

    He was reading the New York Times supplement
    When I asked what his, “Oh, give it up!” plea meant.
    He replied, “Just two crazy bits
    By hard-left PC twits”,
    But they all are – so who knows which couple he meant.

    No doubt there will be many examples of media-sidedness in the months to come.

    Anyway, for my money those two at least disprove the last line of the following:

    The limerick packs fun anatomical
    In a verse form thats most economical,
    But the good ones I’ve seen
    So rarely are clean –
    And the clean ones so rarely are comical.

    though of course Conquest’s limerick on Lenin and Stalin, though ‘clean’ as the word is normally used in literature, describes an obscenity just as my own poem does.

  • Alisa

    Am I the only one here who finds Niall’s comment derogatory towards the cloven-hoofed amongst us?

  • J.M. Heinrichs

    Are you suggesting further rumination is required?


  • Nice one, Heinrichs. 🙂

    In view of the fate of the German comedian who _was_ derogatory about Erdogan and the goat, my _inability_ to be derogatory about that is in a sense highly derogatory – it puts me in the same place as Erdogan, who clearly feels there’s nothing to be derogatory about. 🙂

    (More seriously) though I am angered at what is happening to the comedian, the danger to Jews (and others) in Germany – and the sheer dishonesty of it all – loomed so much larger that I found just couldn’t write about the comedian – or Erdogan, or the goat. The graver subject would not give way to it in my mind.

  • Alisa

    ‘Derogatory to Erdogan’ is quite the tongue-twister (sorry, can’t help it).

    Completely seriously though, I’m not even angry – it may be that my expectations on that front (if any) have always been very low.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well, Niall, I can only say that your effort is not only excellent but also downright amazing for a first (or even a second) try in the medium!

    I’ve never run across the Robert Conquest limerick you quote — it is excellent also, and requires to be committed to memory.

    You also wrote,

    …I decided to write about a political obscenity in language that aims to let the obscenity emerge in the thing described…

    An excellent observation on your endeavour (and Mr. Conquest’s), and beautifully expressed.

    Is that last limerick yours? It’s very well done also, and I like its point. :>)

    . . .

    Also, J.M.: What Niall said!

  • Julie near Chicago

    My, I must say there’s a lot of excellents in that comment…. :>))!!

  • Paul Marks

    So only just only half of the “immigrants” from Islamic North Africa have been caught committing crimes.

    Must be positive…….

  • Is that just under half of a total that includes, or that excludes, the 130,000 that the German authorities have completely lost track of? And is it before or after any Swedish-style creative accounting of crime statistics?

    When Churchill was a young man, he would have thought of the battle against slavery as something largely won (mostly by the efforts of the British Empire within and without its borders). If you had told him in 1912 that in the year 1942 many many millions of slaves (including a few Britons from the channel islands) would be toiling all across the eurasian continent from the Biscay coast to Vladivostock, he would have been incredulous. If you had told him that their conditions would make them envy desperately any black on an 1860s plantation (a quarter of communism’s slaves died during 1942 of overwork and starvation – or of being machine-gunned lest they be captured by the nazis, whose own figures are comparable), he would have been astounded. And if you had told him that during the decade that grew this situation, the parties and doctrines responsible would have fanatic supporters in English-speaking countries, he might have said it could not happen.

    It always helps to remember that kind of thing when times look grim.

  • It would appear that this migrant is well inside the category of the “happy to be overheard”. To say that she would “care not” if she were overheard by a member of the subgroup “who won’t just talk” would seem to be putting it mildly.

    That she was “lauded by Buzzfeed, whose writers called Ms. Belkhiri an “inspiration”, and by the BBC, the Telegraph, the Huffington Post, Vox, Mashable, Mic, and hundreds of other websites around the world” illustrates, I guess, to the first part of my poem.

    Life imitates art. I wish it wouldn’t. Art was already describing real life much more that could be wished.

  • I did not _want_ to be so regularly and so swiftly proved right.

    In Sweden, descendants of Jews who fled there from Denmark during WWII are realising they need to move on again. (The reason? – “a dramatic surge in anti-Semitic violence over the last decade, in tandem with the exponential rise of its Islamic community.” )

    Sweden always had a very mixed record during WWII. On the one hand, it did admit those Jews and, while it never exerted itself to protect Raoul Wallenberg, the government did not disavow him. On the other, it let German troops cross Sweden during the invasion and occupation of Norway, sold high-grade ore and ball bearings to Germany for absolutely as long as it could, generally cringing to the danger of Germany while behaving insolently to the better-behaved so less-frightening allies. A similar pattern of behaviour during the cold war of cringing to Russia and being insolent to the west was likewise evident.

  • Mr Ed

    A similar pattern of behaviour during the cold war of cringing to Russia and being insolent to the west was likewise evident.

    In the mid-1980s, I went to NATO HQ on one of those tours they did for interested people, (along with the Sage of Kettering) and I asked what they would do if the Soviets attacked Sweden, the official looked rather shocked and muttered something about that being an unlikely scenario. I said later to the Sage that perhaps the official would have been more shocked if I had continued by suggesting that NATO join in.