Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Say what you want, but I’ll take Harold Pinter over Charles Krauthammer any day, anytime, in any country or any part of our planet in a heartbeat. It is simply a matter of taste--as one of my favorite poets once said.

I should write this when I am less agitated and more cogent. Although I must confess to finding myself lately yearning for those old-time Western movies: “If you want to shoot, shoot….just don’t talk so much.”

I mean, the whole scam, I often suspect, is intended merely as justifications for (self-validating) assumptions and/or further excuses for not having to listen.

Really, when we reacted strongly to the barbarism of naked, tortured bodies, it was simply because we had women or mother issues and problems with sex and sexuality. If it was the humiliation we objected to, the pro-pain pundits thought it was pride and demanded more humiliation please!

Write or speak honestly, it is a jeremiad. Speak softly, it is whine. Be nuanced, it is pacifism. Question them, it is unpatriotic. Remind them of their history, it is anti-Americanism. Stay, they want to bring the war to you. Go, and you’re the enemy within. Mingle and have a dialogue, its dissimulation. Not mingle, it is ghetto mentality. Have a religion, it is fascism, and not have one, it is secular humanism.

These folks are not going to relent until they get the precise decibel of the QUACK they aim to hear. Or is it a dance they want to see?

Before or after some Castor Oil? And, of course, with due gratitude!

And why? Simply because someone discovered and graced us with penicillin?! Go figure.

We are sure to visit this matter again soon. For today, let us thank our universe for that gift we call Poland. The Poles have some of the best poets ever.

Here is a short one from Hieronim Morsztyn:

A Man

He is not a man who strives for a soldier's pay,

Nor who stains his hands with blood a fool to repay.
Not he who has ample courage and great power,

Nor he for whom life is not worth living longer.
Not he who tears ropes and breaks an iron horseshoe

In his hands, not the one who can twist and wrench too
A steel nail or can stop a mill wheel in its gate

Or who can break up with his forehead an oak plate.
Not the one who breaks with his head somebody's door,

Nor he who gulps down several gallons or more.
Not the one who manages with luck his duels,

Nor in whose heart no fear of enemy dwells.
Not he whose arm is stronger or can withstand blows,

Not he who can endure considerable woes.
But the one who bore bravely Fortune's punishment

Or disappointments and who never underwent
Any change at all in good days or in distress,

Him I call a man and thank for his manliness.

Translated by Michael J. Mikoś

Text: Sokołowska, Jadwiga. I w odmianach czasu smak jest. Antologia polskiej poezji epoki baroku. Warszawa: PIW, 1990.

And the following gem by a father figure of sorts, Jan Kochanowski


You'll find here good trifles, also fair, and worthless,
Walls are not always built with the finest substance.
They put redder brick and dressed stone on the outside,
Broken pieces and cast off rubble go inside.

Translated by Michael J. Mikoś

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