Harold Pinter's War Poem
March 17, 2003 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Democracy

There's no escape.
The big pricks are out.
They'll fuck everything in sight.
Watch your back.
Harold Pinter
[More inside]
posted by MiguelCardoso (24 comments total)

 
This poem was published in last Friday's Spectator( though it's not online). Like other political poems by this writer who is arguably the greatest living playwright in the English language, it seems at first to be unsophisticated, simplistic and grossly anti-American.

Although Pinter's political activism is well known, I would argue that they are in fact about the bluntness of political language itself, mimicking its crudeness and exposing its violence.

This is much in line with what he has done in his plays - most notably in Mountain Language , one of his masterpieces, and clearly indebted to the work of the writer he most admired (and who admired him back): Samuel Beckett.

Or is this poem - loaded question, perhaps - just what it is? I was surprised my mother, who is English, over 80, pro-American, conservative and hates foul language of any kind, thought it was brilliant.

In this light, his fascinating polemic with fellow (Jewish) playwright Arnold Wesker over Iraq is entirely apposite. What's up? Should we pay attention or not? I confess I'm befuddled...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:32 AM on March 17, 2003


someone is a bit of a fucking potty-mouth!
posted by woj at 9:38 AM on March 17, 2003


Woo, use of the word 'fuck' is so daring and edgy.
posted by xmutex at 9:51 AM on March 17, 2003


While I thought that was a fairly terrible poem (I also confess that I think Pinter lost his mind some years ago), it does, however, allow me to shamelessly self-link to one of his overlooked masterpieces.

(And when I say "masterpiece" I of course mean "horseshit.")
posted by Skot at 10:03 AM on March 17, 2003


Link broken?

I'm getting a Pinter poem titled, "American Football" which, while cute, holds no appeal to me until the Steelers fix their passing game.
posted by gsteff at 10:04 AM on March 17, 2003


Watch your back.
Harold Pinter


my thoughts exactly....but where in the poem does it say "watch your back". How does your title for the post, "Democracy", fit into the authors ....meaning (i guess meaning, perhaps intention?)
To me, the poem sounds like Pauli Walnuts recapping the New England game with Silvio Dante.
sorry, i cannot take serious a poet whom uses locker room talk to describe locker room action and equate it somehow with politics.
posted by clavdivs at 10:05 AM on March 17, 2003


I am dumb.
posted by gsteff at 10:10 AM on March 17, 2003


High in the Cascade Mountains I met an old man
Around a campfire we shared a meal of Spotted Owl
He remarked that Bald Eagle was tastier
But as hard to catch as Wolverine.

I tried to explain Ecology and the Green Movement
But he said his favorite colors were Orange, Silver and Purple.
posted by Mack Twain at 10:28 AM on March 17, 2003


Oops, I seem to have confused things a bit. I tried to link to those poems of his more directly related to the current situation regarding Iraq and his position regarding the U.S. The poem published on Friday is titled "Democracy" and its full text are the four quoted lines.

The poem I linked to under "Democracy" was the one he wrote about the Gulf War, entitled "American Football".

Finally, the poem Harold Pinter reads in the last (Polemic with Wesker) link, written last February, is also about the war with Iraq.

Sorry for the confusion - poetic license and all that. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:29 AM on March 17, 2003


Thanks Miguel. I feel so disgusted and horrified today, this just about does it justice.
posted by muckster at 10:33 AM on March 17, 2003


Pinter, as a poet, is a great playwright. Being unable to distinguish his poems from the Craig Brown parodies says all you need to know.
posted by riviera at 10:36 AM on March 17, 2003


who is arguably the greatest living playwright in the English language

cough!*Mamet*cough!

cough!*Miller*cough!
posted by matteo at 10:36 AM on March 17, 2003


who is arguably the greatest living playwright in the English language

John Guare, baby.
posted by Skot at 10:43 AM on March 17, 2003


who is arguably the greatest living playwright in the English language

cough!*Stoppard*cough!

cough!*Shepard*cough!
posted by grabbingsand at 10:47 AM on March 17, 2003


cock and endless balls
posted by Satapher at 11:20 AM on March 17, 2003


He's obviously a fucking genius.
posted by Down10 at 11:43 AM on March 17, 2003


Fucking David Mamet, you fucks!
posted by luriete at 11:57 AM on March 17, 2003


Everybody likes Mamet! That's why they call him Mamet!
posted by Vidiot at 12:33 PM on March 17, 2003


here's an interview with Pinter from the Guardian last year where he talks very beautifully about his cancer, war and cricket.

and here's a timely poem he wrote a couple of months ago that will really piss some of you off


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.
posted by gravelshoes at 3:36 PM on March 17, 2003


and xmutex - I think Pinter is one of the only people who can still use the full power of the word fuck. I'm not sure quite how he does it
posted by gravelshoes at 3:42 PM on March 17, 2003


So when did Serious Poetry and Death Metal lyrics converge, anyway?

Not that I'm against the phenomenon, mind you, just curious. Go go Harold 'Cannibal Corpse' Pinter!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:22 PM on March 17, 2003


Sorry for the confusion - poetic license and all that. ;)


they check these
these days.

the broken links i mean.
posted by clavdivs at 4:54 PM on March 17, 2003


"...it seems at first to be unsophisticated, simplistic and grossly anti-American."

It seems that at second, third, fourth, and fifth.
Pinter is famous for his silences.
posted by semmi at 10:12 PM on March 17, 2003


*koff* Ernie Wise *koff*
posted by i_cola at 4:27 AM on March 18, 2003


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