I am often inclined to think, all Sturgeonesque, that 90% of everything is crap, and that goes double for poetry. Which would mean, of course, that 180% of poetry is crap, which may be overstating the case somewhat, but that feels like a comfortable number to work with, so I’ll let it stand.
A case in point is this Harold Pinter poem rescued from a slightly-less-than-customarily-dumbass (at least recently) Metafilter thread. Harold Pinter is apparently some Poet of Significance, about whom I know very little, as I ain’t got me mucha that there book-larnin’. Anyway, have a read :
Here they go again,
The Yanks in their armoured parade
Chanting their ballads of joy
As they gallop across the big world
Praising America’s God.
The gutters are clogged with the dead
The ones who couldn’t join in
The others refusing to sing
The ones who are losing their voice
The ones who’ve forgotten the tune.
The riders have whips which cut.
Your head rolls onto the sand
Your head is a pool in the dirt
Your head is a stain in the dust
Your eyes have gone out and your nose
Sniffs only the pong of the dead
And all the dead air is alive
With the smell of America’s God.
Now, I don’t disagree with the sentiment expressed here, as you might guess. Yes, America and their God are doodyheads supreme, and a force for death and evil in the world today. That’s a given, isn’t it? And, hey, I like the loping metre – badum badumdum boop. It’s bouncy, yet martial! Just right, as Goldilocks might exclaim.
What amuses me is that this Great Author’s Poem falls in quality somewhere between lame old Satan-cheering Iron Maiden lyrics, say, and a quote from Cannibal Corpse [warning : rather icky, but may assist in understanding American culture] . You know, I wouldn’t take issue if Pinter’s tripe weren’t meant to be Art, High and Holy. No one listens to Cannibal Corpse (or at least, I wish no one did) expecting a literary artgasm, I don’t think. But oor Harold?
Well, stuff like “The riders have whips which cut. Your head rolls onto the sand Your head is a pool in the dirt Your head is a stain in the dust” goes quite nicely alongside other stuff like
Slaughtered enemies scattered
Trail of death they walked
Drenched in their own blood
A sound of thousands fills the sky
A death that comes so clear
When the rain of fire falls
Flames that will consume
A boiling death appear
The last second alive
Quick now, was that Harold, or the merry pranksters from Vomitory? And does it matter? Admittedly Mr Rundqvist, Vomitory’s wordsmith, has a few problems with getting those nice bumpedyboop rhythms going, and may in fact have a few problems with english as a second language, but I’m willing to bet there are a whole lot more people chanting his songs than dear old Harold’s.
Which may not be the point. You tell me. 250 words or less, due by Friday. Heh.
I wonder, as an aside, how many of the foolish young soldiers going to risk their lives for f–king nothing in Iraq listen, teeth gritted, to mutant scum like Cannibal Corpse and their grindcore ilk? That might be an interesting statistic.