Communist Poetry

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Boris Badenov
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Dec 14 2009 22:48
Samotnaf wrote:
I was specifically criticising "socially significant" poetry - which "almost invariably" falls into hackish didacticism at best (e.g. late Brecht, or considerably worse - the unbearable cringe-inducing Pinter bollocks).

I thought you were saying that poetry can't be socially significant, even the stuff that is not "hackish didacticism"; I guess I missed your point. Sorry.

Quote:
Your post seemed like typical ideological communication - mis-quoting or mis-reading things said - picking up on words out of context, because the argument jars with your own ideas and you can't deal with it honestly. But maybe I'm mis-reading you - perhaps you could give me an example of a modern socially significant poem that had an impact on you.

I notice this is something you do: someone disagrees with you, you start accusing them of "point-scoring mentality" and "ideological misquoting." Stop doing that please. Maybe I didn't get exactly what you were trying to say, but I'm NOT trying to defend any dogma. I just reacted to what I thought was a reductionist and grandstanding argument about poetry "being dead" or some rubbish like that; it has nothing to do with me trying to defend certain preconceived ideas.

Quote:
This is certainly not to say that, for their time, Blake, Shelley, Rimbaud , Mallarmé etc. weren't original and subversive. I too like a lot of Rimbaud - but Knabb's take on him added something to an understanding of the limitations of poetry: he certainly wasn't simply denouncing poetry as a "social relationship" (what isn't?). Nor was he saying that what Rimbaud wrote was "false".

Ok then; thanks for setting me straight.
Of course poetry is limited, but if you enjoy it (and I personally enjoy it the same way I enjoy music rather than the way I enjoy reading prose, so I don't think there's any contest between prose and poetry, which is what I thought you were saying above), then there is something to it. IMO what Knabb was saying failed to make the distinction between poetry as formalism (a notion that does deserve to be criticized) and poetry as human activity, something that goes far beyond the "high" poetry of canonical writers; this is why I mentioned a rap group in the same sentence as Rimbaud. I don't think they should be viewed as intrinsically different; only by putting Rimabud "on a pedestal," as you say, does poetry appear to be a useless echo of the past.

Quote:
He was specifically criticising Rimbaud's poetry, like poetry as an institution, as a social relationship inimical to "the effective realisation of the imagination in the world." - that is, Rimbaud "inevitably" failed in his genuine search for the magical through poems. It's not such a big deal. You can be moved by his poems or not - that's not the point.

Why is that not the point? I think that is the only point. It doesn't matter to me what Rimbaud failed at, what his personal vision and artistic ambitions were; the only thing I and anyone else have access to is what he left behind; this is what we should judge him by, not his failure to reinstill the magic element in poetry (as if that was a realistic project to begin with).

Quote:
And the real problem is not to put Rimbaud, or any other 'great' poetry on a pedestal but to find the varied ways of expressing yourself imaginatively, originally and passionately as Rimbaud did in his own way and time, outside of the parameters of 'poetry

I agree with this, but again there must be a distinction between 'poetry' as a body of formal appearances and actual poetry, as something that is constantly evolving.

Quote:
which is still far better than loads of Leninist garbage that permeates the libcom site here and there. Sheer poetry.

any examples of what constitutes such Leninist garbage?

Samotnaf
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Dec 15 2009 15:51
Quote:
Quote:

Your post seemed like typical ideological communication - mis-quoting or mis-reading things said - picking up on words out of context, because the argument jars with your own ideas and you can't deal with it honestly. But maybe I'm mis-reading you - perhaps you could give me an example of a modern socially significant poem that had an impact on you.

I notice this is something you do: someone disagrees with you, you start accusing them of "point-scoring mentality" and "ideological misquoting." Stop doing that please. Maybe I didn't get exactly what you were trying to say, but I'm NOT trying to defend any dogma. I just reacted to what I thought was a reductionist and grandstanding argument about poetry "being dead" or some rubbish like that; it has nothing to do with me trying to defend certain preconceived ideas.

OK - fair enough - maybe I wasn't being clear. But in my experience people often misquote or mis-read or deliberately want to misinterpret, or leap onto something which is utterly minor because of some ideological fixedness in their heads (and practical attitude). I once said to a friend that Stalinism didn't only rule by terror. He ranted on and on at me literally for 5 minutes without letting me correct him, drowning out my "but..buts" because he'd somehow not heard the 'only" bit. Anyway, as i said - maybe I wasn't being clear.

For the moment, can't comment on the rap group you mentioned, because I don't know them. I'll try to check them out.

Quote:
Quote:

He was specifically criticising Rimbaud's poetry, like poetry as an institution, as a social relationship inimical to "the effective realisation of the imagination in the world." - that is, Rimbaud "inevitably" failed in his genuine search for the magical through poems. It's not such a big deal. You can be moved by his poems or not - that's not the point.

Why is that not the point? I think that is the only point. It doesn't matter to me what Rimbaud failed at, what his personal vision and artistic ambitions were; the only thing I and anyone else have access to is what he left behind; this is what we should judge him by, not his failure to reinstill the magic element in poetry (as if that was a realistic project to begin with).

What I was trying to say was that your personal taste is not the point when discussing poetry as a social relation, as related to the aims and historical time and place of the poems, for the writer as well as the reader. I like some of Salvador Dali's paintings but this is essentially separate from considering what a scumbag in almost every way he was. And his social influence was, for the most part, just as unbearable. Leni Riefenstahl's movie of the 1936 Olympic games (Triumph of the Will, iirc) was interesting and aesthetically quite pleasing - but its ideological function was horrific. etc....

Quote:
Quote:
which is still far better than loads of Leninist garbage that permeates the libcom site here and there. Sheer poetry.

any examples of what constitutes such Leninist garbage?

The ICC (or " the icy sea" - because that's what they try to push people into); some of the people who take the ICC seriously; posi and The Commune; irrationallyangry and the SP; people who think that they're a vanguard by virtue of their 'consciousness'....But this thread is not the place for a debate on "Leninist garbage".

rooieravotr
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Dec 16 2009 17:58

Paul Goodman, American anarchist, has some nice ones. Two I like a lot:

Hallowe'en 1969

O goblin with with your yellow fiery eyes
and jagged mouth that frightened me to carve,
glaring out of out window to the street
protect us from the candidates for mayor

Kent State, May 4, 1970

Ran out of tear gas and become panicky
poor inept kids, and therefore they poured lead
into the other kids and shot them dead
and now myself and the whole country
are weeping. It's not a matter of degree,
not less no more than the Indo-Chinese slaughtered,
it is the same; but most folks are shattered by
home truths (as i know who lost my boy)

I am not willing to go on this week
with business as usual, this month this year
let cars slow down and stop and builders break
off building and close up the theatre.
You see, the children that we massacre
are our own children. Call the soldiers back.

mike-servethepeople
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Jan 14 2010 06:13

Bob Saltis is a retired worker in Adelaide, Australia. Ark Tribe is a construction worker facing six months jail for refusing to attend a compulsory secret interrogation by the government building "watchdog", the ABCC. Going back to Comrade An's original request for communist poetry on trade union issues, I submit this on his behalf. It is from my blog:
http://www.mike-servethepeople.blogspot.com .
Info on the Ark Tribe struggle can be found at http:www.arkstribe.org.au

FOR ARK TRIBE
By Bob Saltis

1. Building worker

In this sunburnt country
where workers toil for others’ gain
and all too often on building sites
mangled bodies scream accusation
and every week a wife or mother
mourns
we salute Ark Tribe
an ordinary bloke
who proudly wears his union badge
and stands up unyieldingly for workers’ rights

The law would have him wear the yoke
but
he does not cower and boldly defies the greedy sharks

“Dob in your mates,” fawning lackeys howl
“or six months jail awaits”.

But this man is built of sterner stuff
The flag he flies is the Southern Cross
Anger seethes in stern eyes
“I like my beer and darts with mates but
I’ll rot in your jail and not give up
the liberties my mates of old won for me.
Me and my union we’re in this boat together
We’ll fight till we smash this evil thing.”

2. Building bosses

The sharks have multiplied in the building industry
construction company sharks
bank sharks
insurance sharks and
private equity sharks

This is the age of the shark and the vampire in the building industry
The vampires have their fill of the blood
and the sharks wax fat on the gore
of workers slain in workplaces
by unsafe scaffolding, falling cranes
and collapsing bridges
by the bosses cutting corners and
taking risks

This is the age of the plunderer in the building industry
They gloat over rising profits
swindle their way to massive
fortunes
lord it at the top of the heap
and squat on the workers’ backs

This is the age of hypocrites in the building industry
Smugly they dish out charity
while they shabbily turn a blind eye
on safety
and ruthlessly throw workers on the
heap

This is the age of the dominion of capital and its owners
“We’ll have one more profit’” they cry
“We’ll cut corners and take risks
To this end we’ll bust
the building union
And we have a bead on Ark Tribe.”

3. Building watchdog

The ABCC
I accuse.
I accuse the ABCC of being a pro-boss
watchdog
This is why building workers hold the
ABCC in utter contempt.
ABCC stands for Anti-union Bloody-minded Class-prejudiced Contemptible watchdog

A is for the anti-union watchdog set up
to bust effective unions and weaken
the union movement. To this end
unions are demonized with allegations
of corruption and violence and union
members are intimidated.

B is for the blackhearted bosses. Every
year in our sunburnt country mothers
wives and children mourn the
slaughter of fifty men in the building
industry but the bloody-minded
watchdog has never investigated the
bosses for unsafe worksites, or for
killing and maiming workers made to
work in unsafe conditions.

The first C is for cop on the beat. He
uses his oppressive powers to keep
unions off building sites checking on
the safety of members and to bully
workers into dobbing in their
workmates.

The other C is for the class war the
class-prejudiced watchdog is
conducting on behalf of the bosses by
relentlessly hounding the workers and
their unions. They aim to consolidate
their class dominion and so to have a
free hand to exploit workers.

I salute Ark tribe who stands up
unyielding against this anti-union
bloody-minded class-prejudiced
contemptible watchdog.

4. Building industry

Fired by the spirit of Eureka
Ark Tribe and his union are in the fight
together
the fight for rights at work
the fight against wrong.
In the spirit of those rebel heroes
they blaze with icy anger
and stand up to the black-hearted
bosses.

“One law for all!” the union demands
and hundreds take up the call.
“One law for all! One law for all!” the
workers chant
Ark’s comrades all.
“Comrade workers,” the union appeals,
“rally in support of Ark Tribe.
His fight for justice, to see justice done
Is not just for himself but for everyone.”

And in our thousands we take to the
streets
the awakened understanding of a
disfranchised class.
Resolute we march shoulder to
shoulder
heads high, strong and united
together.
An unyielding family, young and old
stern warriors for “Your Rights at
Work”
we know each other by our clenched
fists.
Defiant voices rising like rain clouds
over the land
we sing a solidarity song.

And we join this fight
keenly aware of the sturdy and tested
bond
that links us to those to whom
we owe the liberties we enjoy today.

We are singing a people’s song.

Fletcher
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Jan 14 2010 16:56

There was a young Leninist called THE OUTLAW
Who was not in the least bourgeois
Marching and rioting
To the rich he was disquieting
This keyboard warrior sits typing in the raw

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mikail firtinaci
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Jan 14 2010 15:44

The day the freedom comes
That day death is outlawed

Cemal Süreya

(a poet who lost one of the "y"s in his surname in a bet - my translation)

John1
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Jan 14 2010 17:15

"The only race is the rat race."

-Wall graffiti, London rioters, 1981

Samotnaf
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Jan 14 2010 19:16

Richard wrote:

Quote:
"The only race is the rat race."

-Wall graffiti, London rioters, 1981

Poetic it certainly is, but it was written in the late 60s by some people in King Mob, the situ-influenced group (I think some people assumed that because it was re-printed in the text "Like a summer with a thousand July's", about the riots of '81, that it was a piece of graffiti from those heady July days). King Mob also wrote the graffiti "The Tigers of Wrath are Wiser than the Horses of Instruction" at the same time more or less, a quote from the poet William Blake. Both were written in Notting Hill. It's implicitly a critique of some of the more didactic or whining poems (e.g. Hugh MacDiarmid's or Paul Goodman's) some people on this thread seem to think have something in common with poetry in the sense of the spirit of something life-loving, something against the deathly mediocrity of conformist culture, something subversive.

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mikail firtinaci
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Jan 15 2010 00:05

every death is ahead of its time samatnof, and that fact does not have anything to do with love of life...

mike-servethepeople
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Jan 15 2010 00:25

Re my earlier post: the link to the Ark Tribe website should read
http://www.arkstribe.org.au

And here's a song I wrote about Ark that can be downloaded from the ArksTribe website (OK - it's not great poetry, but it rhymes which might please someone...):

Stand Tall – for Ark Tribe

Come gather round and listen
To the thunder rolling in,
‘Cos the rich are trying to break us
And we’re not gonna let them win.

Well they tried it on the wharfies
With scabs and thugs and lost,
So how to break the building sites
Where the workers won’t be bossed?

“We own the law, we own the courts
And that’s the key to their defeat:
We’ll give the workers six months jail
For every time they meet!”

The workers met on safety
And Ark Tribe led the way,
So Gillard’s thugs decided
That he would have to pay.

“If your name it is Ark Tribe
Come to our interrogation –
You’ll have to dob your mates in:
That’s the way we run this nation!”

“Oh my name it is Ark Tribe
And I ain’t gonna talk to you.
My freedom flies with the Southern Cross
And there’s nothing you can do.”

“If there’s anything that I’ve done wrong
I’ll take your jail, that’s fine!
But killing fifty men a year
Is the bosses’ crime, not mine!”

“As for your Liberal and your Labor,
To me they look the same
With Howard’s rotten laws served up
In Julia Gillard’s name.”

“Well, I’d a-ridden with Ned Kelly
I’d a fought with bold Ben Hall,
‘Cos it was wild colonial boys like these
Who taught us to stand tall.”

Well, if Ark Tribe’s put in prison
By their “tough cop on the beat”,
The wild colonial boys and girls
Must get out in the street.

And we must ride like Edward Kelly,
We must fight like bold Ben Hall,
‘Cos it was wild colonial boys like these
Who taught us to stand tall!

21/7/09

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Jenni
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Jan 15 2010 00:25

i recently heard a good communist poetry, well it is more of a song, but it is still in the category of verbal artistic expression. it goes:

i was born to a middle class family
i went to a good school
i got into university
and when i got there i thought i was so free
and then i learnt a new word
and that word was AUTONOMY
autonomy
fuck yeah.

Boris Badenov
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Jan 15 2010 00:37
Jenni wrote:
i recently heard a good communist poetry, well it is more of a song, but it is still in the category of verbal artistic expression. it goes:

i was born to a middle class family
i went to a good school
i got into university
and when i got there i thought i was so free
and then i learnt a new word
and that word was AUTONOMY
autonomy
fuck yeah.

a timeless classic.

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The Outlaw
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Jan 15 2010 00:40

don't know if this is communist let alone poetry but here;

People all given up
a planet of defeat
the war noet yet lost
victory isn't dawning
bored with the fight
why even bother?
chose to lose
in a game of chance
this game of life

what about the defence of poverty
or should we no longer shield the defenceless
allo them to starve, let them go hungry!
the wasting of resources, all lavish
so help give us that pound
yeah they don't need alot
look just blade it on greedy toffs
they don't want to share the wealth
because inequality is in their gain
come on people this world, insane!

No longer stewards of peace
locked down wanting release
look it is a criminal!
still timmy can't haveh is fill
oliver said please, even pelasded
and what did he ever get?
life full of sorrow and regret
and a twat to the cheek!
just for fuckin hungers sake?
the sword lost in the lake!

a war soley unjust
but we have that need
the need for greed
people go and die
is this an oil addiction?
a gapping wound!
a great global infliction!

stamping our mark
like an animal
but at our expense
no need for wealth
consumed by greed
feed the hungry!
let them eat cake!

living in the age of terrosim
this aint no funny biz
with the erosion of rights
yet its gone tomrorow
sorrow is what e feel
contempt without contemplation
the death of a whole nation!

The workes struggle
a battle of wills
a fight for survival
the death of a system
based on greed n blood
money greater than people
no need for freedom
don't believe the lies
it's time 4 revolution!

one that is here today

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mikail firtinaci
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Jan 15 2010 01:15

art is the alienation of destructive urge...

Spassmaschine
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Jan 15 2010 02:11

On My Own

The first time ever I saw your face
You smiled at me and my heart began to race
We met because we put the earth first
Across the world, many are dying of hunger and thirst

What about the killing fields?
Will there be a time
When people stop dying
Due to a war crime

Did they ever stop to notice
All the blood they’ve shed before?
Did they ever stop to notice
All the innocents killed at war?

What have they done to the world?
Look what they’ve done
George Bush claims to be a Christian
But he’d have killed God’s only son

I’m missing you more than words can say
But I know I’ll see you again one day

Hide my head, I wanna drown my sorrow
Will I see you tomorrow?
I find it kind of funny
I find it very sad
That the sanest people in the world
Are those they smear as mad
It’s a very very mad world
Mad world

I didn’t mean to smear you
You emailed me to say it’s not true
That you’ve had an ordeal like mine
Trying to prove you’re mentally fine

On my own, pretending you’re beside me
Quite alone, trying to ensure the world will be free
In the rain, the pavement shines like silver
All the lights are misty in the river
And although they sometimes say love is blind
I love you for your beauty as well as your mind

I love you and when my ordeal is over
I’ll smile and hope you’ll become my lover
Without you, the world around me changes
And on my own, I have to face the dangers
I miss you but every day I’m learning
I love others, but it’s for you I’m really yearning

I love you
I love you
I love you
Especially on my own

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UFTKEc8XY8

Samotnaf
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Jan 15 2010 02:30

mikail firtinaci wrote:

Quote:
art is the alienation of destructive urge...

Totally agree. And I wish more people on libcom saw art like this.
But your earlier post:

Quote:
every death is ahead of its time samatnof, and that fact does not have anything to do with love of life...

- I really couldn't work out what that had to do with anything I'd said; even as a misunderstanding, I still can't see how you've come up with that. Please enlighten me.

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mikail firtinaci
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Jan 15 2010 10:29
Quote:
mikail firtinaci wrote:
Quote:

art is the alienation of destructive urge...

Totally agree. And I wish more people on libcom saw art like this.

Well I was not really serious about that. it was a responce to the Outlaw's poem - meant to be a joke. I am not sure whether art is the alienated form of creaitivity or not, I do not really know much about art.

Quote:
Quote:

every death is ahead of its time samatnof, and that fact does not have anything to do with love of life...

- I really couldn't work out what that had to do with anything I'd said; even as a misunderstanding, I still can't see how you've come up with that. Please enlighten me.

That was a responce to what you said above when you wrote;

Quote:
some people on this thread seem to think have something in common with poetry in the sense of the spirit of something life-loving,

There is another poem of Süreya and "every death is an early death" part is a referance to that... But as I said I did not really mean to say much...

Boris Badenov
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Jan 22 2010 19:55

Chicho Sanchez Ferlosio - Malditas Elecciones

Que el mundo va a cambiar,
nos dicen
que cuando votemos nos escucharan
nos dicen
si en cambio no votais
nos dicen
los del otro lado nos aplastaran
y así se quedarán
nos dicen
con las manos libres para hacer su plan.

Malditas elcciones
decimos
si la voz rebelde se domesticó
malditas elecciones
decimos
quieren el gobierno
y nosotros no...

Menudos de demagogos
con sus perros de presa
jugando como siempre
al palo y la promesa
malditos socialistas
vendidos al patrón
jugando con nosotros
al gato y al ratón.

Nos habeis traicionado
sin ninguna verguenza
nos habeis desterrado
y matado tambien...

Harbá que echar la cuenta
de tantas injusticias
la cuenta de la sangre
y de la libertad

La cuenta de la sangre
y de la libertad...

translation (approximate; my Spanish is very shaky):
The world will change
They tell us
That when we vote they listen to us
And if you don't vote
They tell us
The other side will crush us
And so you will have to
They tell us
Make your own plan

Goddamn elections
We say
If the rebel voice be tamed
Goddamn elections
We say
They want the government
And we do not...

Petty demagogues
With their hounds
Playing as usual
With the stick and the promise
Goddamn Socialists
Sold to the bosses
They play cat and mouse with us
You have betrayed us
Without any shame
We'll have you banished
And killed ...

The story of blood
and freedom
will keep count
of these many injustices

The story of blood
and freedom...

Samotnaf
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Jan 24 2010 21:28

The following limerick is certainly not as worthy as some of the previously quoted stuff, such as the poem about the National Guard's Kent State murders in 1970, by Paul Goodygoodyman (how extraordinarily radical to denounce these killings) and I admit it's not a really revolutionary critique of unions but it has some qualities lacking in the semi-social realist stuff (such as an absence of pretentiousness):

When the Bricklayers' union struck,
Dear Old Freddy was having a fuck.
By union rules
He had to down tools;
Now that's what I call damn bad luck

mike-servethepeople
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Jan 25 2010 06:12

What did the originator of this list mean by "Left-Communist poets"? Poets whose writing explicitly propagates communism, or communists who write poetry that may be quite personal and reflective?

For example, Mao Zedong wrote explicitly political poems and personal and reflective poems. Commiserating with Li Shuyi on the discovery, after many years, that her husband had been killed by the Guomindang (KMT), Mao composed a reflective piece on his feelings for Yang Kaihui, his first real wife, who was also assassinated by the GMD. "Poplar" and "Willow" are plays in Chinese on the surnames of their respective spouses. There is a political aspect to this poem (defeat of the GMD), but it is also one man's profound feelings of love for a person murdered several decades beforehand. Its literary allusions are steeped in Chinese mythology, such as the story of the moon goddess, Chang-E.

REPLY TO LI SHU-YI
--to the tune of Tieh Lien Htua

May 11, 1957

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I lost my proud Poplar and you your Willow,
Poplar and Willow soar to the Ninth Heaven.
Wu Kang, asked what he can give,
Serves them a laurel brew.
The lonely moon goddess spreads her ample sleeves
To dance for these loyal souls in infinite space.
Earth suddenly reports the tiger subdued,
Tears of joy pour forth falling as mighty rain.

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Devrim
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Jan 25 2010 08:28
mike-servethepeople wrote:
What did the originator of this list mean by "Left-Communist poets"? Poets whose writing explicitly propagates communism, or communists who write poetry that may be quite personal and reflective?

They meant poets who were 'left-communists'. This is no way includes Mao.

By the way, even allowing for what could be an awful translation and myself not understanding anything at all about the cultural context, that is possibly one of the worse poems I have ever read.

Devrim

ajjohnstone
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Jan 25 2010 11:28

If they hqaven't been mentioned Oscar Wildes Ballad of Reading Gaol and Shelleys Mask of Anarchy

But there is D H Lawrence political poem collection published in 1929 in a volume called Pansies .

O! Start A Revolution

O! start a revolution , somebody !
not to get the money
but to lose it forever .

O! start a revolution , somebody!
not to install the working classes
but to abolish the working classes forever
and have a world of men .

Kill Money

Kill money , put money out of existence .
It is a perverted instinct , a hidden thought
which rots the brain , the blood , the bones , the stones , the soul.

Make up your mind about it all:
that society must establish itself upon a different principle
from the one we’ve got now.

We must have the courage of mutual trust.
We must have the modesty of simple living.
And the individual must have his house , food and fire all free - like a bird.

Money-Madness

Money is our madness, our vast collective madness.

And of course , if the multitude is mad
The individual carries his own grain of insanity around with him.

I doubt if any man living hands out a pound note without a pang;
And a real tremor , if he hands out a ten-pound note.
We quail, money makes us quail .
It has got us down , we grovel before it in strange terror .
And no wonder, for money has a fearful cruel power among men .

But it is not money we are terrified of ,
it is the collective money - madness of mankind.
For mankind says with one voice : How much is he worth ?
Has he no money ? Then let him eat dirt , and go cold -

And if I have no money , they will give me a little bread ,
So I do not die,
but they will make me eat dirt for it .
I shall have to eat dirt , I shall have to eat dirt
if I have no money

It is that I am afraid of .
And that fear can become a delirium .
It is fear of my money-mad fellow-man.

We must have some money
To save us from eating dirt .

And this is wrong.

Bread should be free ,
shelter should be free ,
fire should be free
to all and anybody , all and anybody , all over the world.

We must regain our sanity about money
before we start killing one another about it .
It’s one thing or the other.

How Beastly The Bourgeois Is

How beastly the bourgeois is
especially the male of the species -

Presentable , eminently presentable -
shall I make you a present of him ?

Isn’t he handsome ? isn’t he healthy? Isn’t he a fine specimen ?
doesn’t he look the fresh clean englishman , outside ?
Isn’t if god’s own image ? tramping his thirty miles a day
after partridges , or a little rubber ball ?
wouldn’t you like to be like that , well off , and quite the thing ?

Oh , but wait !
Let him meet a new emotion , let him be faced with another man’s
need ,
let him come home to a bit of moral difficulty , let life face him with
a new demand on his understanding
and then watch him go soggy , like a wet meringue .
Watch him turn into a mess , either a fool or a bully.
Just watch the display of him , confronted with a new demand on his intelligence ,
a new life-demand.

How beastly the bourgeois is
especially the male of the species -
Nicely groomed like a mushroom
standing there so sleek and erect and eyeable -
and like a fungus , living on the remains of bygone life
sucking his life out of the dead leaves of greater life than his own .

And even so , he’s stale , he’s been there too long .
Touch him , and you’ll find he’s all gone inside
just like an old mushroom , all wormy inside , and hollow
under a smooth skin and an upright appearance .

Full of seething , wormy , hollow feelings
rather nasty -
How beastly the bourgeois is !

Standing in their thousands , these appearances , in damp England
what a pity they can’t all be kicked over
like sickening toadstools , and left to melt back , swiftly
into the soil of England .

Wages

The wages of work is cash .
The wages of cash is want more cash .
The wages of want more cash is vicious competition.
The wages of vicious completion is - the world we live in .

The work-cash-want circle is the viciousest circle
that ever turned men into fiends.

Earning a wage is a prison occupation
and a wage - earner is a sort of gaol-bird
Earning a salary is a prison overseer’s job ,
a gaoler instead of a gaol-bird .

Living on your income is strolling grandly outside the prison
in terror lest you have to go in .And since the work-prison covers
almost every scrap of living earth , you stroll up and down
on a narrow beat, about the same as a prisoner taking his exercise .

This is called universal freedom

WHY?

Why have money?
Why have a financial system to strangle us all in its octopus arms?
Why have industry?
Why have the industrial system ?
Why have machines , that we only have to serve?
Why have a soviet , that only wants to screw us all in as parts of the machine?
Why have working classes at all , as if men only embodied jobs?
Why not have men as men , and the work as merely part of the game of life?

True , we’ve got all these things
industrial and financial systems , machines and soviets, working
classes.
But why go on having them , if they belittle us ?
Why should we be belittled any longer?

The Mosquito Knows

The mosquito knows full well, small as he is
he’s a beast of prey.
But after all
he only takes his bellyful ,
he doesn’t put my blood in the bank.

DH Lawrence

mike-servethepeople
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Joined: 14-01-10
Jan 27 2010 06:23

Many thanks to Devrim for acting as spokesperson for comrade 安藤鈴. I should have gone back and read the latter’s second post where he/she does indeed offer the clarification I sought, namely “I'm interested in poetry specifically about communist issues - trade unions, national liberation etc. Not just any old poetry which happens to be written by communists.”

And yes, Devrim comrade 安藤鈴 would probably share your distaste for Mao as a communist; nevertheless his poetry is highly regarded for its aesthetic standards in China. Could we see your own poetry comrade, so we may judge the elevated heights from which you sneer at a single translated piece?

I welcomed this discussion originally because I thought it may encourage comrades on the left to share their attempts at poetry. I put up the song lyrics I wrote about the South Australian construction worker Ark Tribe, but I didn’t want to discount the poetry by communists that was personal and reflective as I find that sometimes is more pregnant with communist emotion and insight than explicitly “political” poems.

Devrim - here’s one more from me.

Bernie Banton was a worker for the James Hardie asbestos company. He became the human face of a campaign conducted on behalf of workers seeking compensation for having contracted mesothelioma. He led a deputation about this to see Tony Abbott, then a minister in John Howard’s Liberal Government in Australia. Abbott insulted him, saying “Bernie Banton’s not really pure of heart, is he?” to indicate that he was just some sort of paid agitator and not really concerned with the condition that was killing him. Howard’s government was defeated; Abbott was recently elevated to the position of Leader of the Opposition. My poem may not be great poetry, it doesn’t advocate communism, but I wrote it with communist feeling.

Your turn with a poem please Devrim.

Other comrades please put up your poems as The Outlaw and Captain Soap have done!

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
I cry for the cruelty they made you endure
Covered like a snowman in asbestos dust
Their workplace relations a breach of trust
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
They treated you like a bloody spare part.

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
They knew, they knew, they knew for sure
Asbestos was a vicious killing carcinoma
That horrid death – mesothelioma
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
How many lives did they tear apart?

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
They damaged your lungs, there was no cure
But you fought the bastards to see justice done
Not just for yourself but for everyone
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
Yet they laughed at you right from the start.

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
Laugh last, laugh loud, to know that you’re
The one who took it up to them
That they’re the ones whom we condemn
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
Fighting to the end their greedy black art.

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
Insulted by Abbott - that human manure
“Never take no for an answer” was your advice
They couldn’t buy your humanity for any price
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
Fighter for all right from the start

Bernie Banton, heart so pure
The qualities of the worker, not the entrepreneur
How bad was the pain against which you struggled to live?
“I wouldn’t wish it on a Hardie’s executive”
Bernie Banton, pure of heart
I’d wish it on them and their profit chart!

Samotnaf
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Joined: 9-06-09
Jan 27 2010 10:24

mike_servethepeople:
I put a poem of my own ("Now Is The Winter Of Our Poetry") on this thread, so I obviously have the credibility necessary to comment on Mao's crap.

Although much of the time on other threads I am in complete disagreement with Devrim, I'm with him 105% on this.

mike-servethepeople (in his bossy affronted indignant tone ) said that Mao's

Quote:
poetry is highly regarded for its aesthetic standards in China

Well, Rupert Brooke's poetry used to be

Quote:
highly regarded for its aesthetic standards

in Britain, but that doesn't mean it wasn't crap; taking a totalitarian capitalist country's "standards" as your own shows how very far you are from anything "communist" (your own poem is not much of a great leap forward from the one you posted by that mass murdering bureaucrat Mao). But let's have a look at this:

Quote:
ON EXPRESSING AN OPINION

I dreamed I was in the classroom of a primary school preparing to write an essay, and asked the teacher how to express an opinion.
“That’s hard !“ Glancing sideways at me over his glasses, he said, “Let me tell you a story —“When a son is born to a family, the whole household
is delighted. When he is one month old they carry him out to display him to the guests — usually expecting some compliments, of course.
“One says, ‘This child will be rich.’ Then he is heartily thanked.
“One says, ‘This child will be an official.’ Then some compliments are made him in return.
“One says, ‘This child will die.’ Then he is thoroughly beaten by the whole family.
“That the child will die is inevitable, while to say that he will be rich or a high official may be a lie. Yet the lie is rewarded, whereas the statement of the inevitable gains a beating. You. . .
“I don’t want to tell lies, sir, neither do I want to be beaten. So what should I say?”
“In that case, say, ‘Aha! Just look at this child! My word. . . . Oh, my! Oho! Hehe! He, hehehehehe!’”

Lu Xun, July 8, 1925, listed as a prose poem in his selected works, and a far more interesting example of Chinese poetry than any of the thousand blooming flowers written by that paper tiger, Mao (whose portrait dominating Tianamen Square, in 1989, was splattered with red paint by radicals who didn't hold their nation's "aesthetic standards" in "high regard").

Since prose poems tend to be generally less jarring in form than the vast majority of post-surrealist non-prose-poem-type-poetry, will mike_servethepeople (on a platter with roast potatoes for the bureaucrat's banquet..?) allow Devrim the choice of writing a poem not in rhyming couplets, which he may or may not feel would stick in his throat (I certainly can't speak for him obviously)?

Here's a poem of mine, written on the occasion of Mao's death:

POETRY CORNER

In Memoriam Mao Tse Tung, poet and Server Of The People

So. Farewell
Then Mao
Tse Tung.

You died
Before mike_servethepeople
Could express his admiration for your works.

"running dog of capitalism"
Was
One of your
Charmingly poetic
Phrases.

"Power grows out of the barrel of a gun"
Was another.
I loved how you showed those uppity red guards turned anarchists in Shanghai the truth of that one,
Comrade Mao.

We will remember your
Scintillating verses
Forever.

You have put the po back into
Poems.

E.J.Samotnaff (71½)

If you liked this poem, you can download a selection of E.J.Samotnaf's verses from www.sneeringfromelevatedheights.com

Devrim's picture
Devrim
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Jan 27 2010 10:56
mike-servethepeople wrote:
Could we see your own poetry comrade, so we may judge the elevated heights from which you sneer at a single translated piece?

You won't be seeing any attempts a poetry from me. I am not interested in writing it at all. That doesn't mean that I can't have any opinion on others' works.

Quote:
nevertheless his poetry is highly regarded for its aesthetic standards in China

Things like this tend to happen when you hold a certain position within the state. It is like people believing that Atatürk did everything perfect here in Turkey.

Actually, I live in a country where poetry is a living vibrant part of the culture. People still read and write poetry here whereas in the anglophone world, it seems, to a certain extent, to have become a study of things written long ago by people long dead.

Samotnaf wrote:
Although much of the time on other threads I am in complete disagreement with Devrim, I'm with him 105% on this.

I didn't think that we disagreed on that much, but never mind.

Farce's picture
Farce
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Joined: 21-04-09
Jan 27 2010 14:47

Still don't think I've found a better Communist poem than Brecht's "Questions from a worker who reads", despite the author's incredibly dodgy Stalinist sympathies. I like The Solution, his incredibly belated attack on Stalinism mentioned earlier in this thread, as well.

Red Marriott's picture
Red Marriott
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Joined: 7-05-06
Jan 27 2010 17:00
devrim wrote:
mike-serves people wrote:
nevertheless his poetry is highly regarded for its aesthetic standards in China

Things like this tend to happen when you hold a certain position within the state. It is like people believing that Atatürk did everything perfect here in Turkey.

Confirming Devrim's comments on mike-serves people's claims about the popularity of Mao's poetry, here is what Simon Leys says, who wrote several very good books on Chinese culture, history and the Mao era;

Quote:
Let us have no illusions about the quality of Mao's artistic creation. The fame of his poetry owes everything to his fame as a politician; if Mao had not played his particular part in history, his poetical works, which are slight and often clumsy, would not have stood out from the work of thousands of other amateur poets who flourish in each generation of Chinese scolars. Certainly the poet's inspiration meets the politician's experience to commanding effect in the poem "Snow" (to the tune of Ch'in yuan ch'un) which is memorable in the same sense as "Song of the Great Wind" by Lui Pang, the founder of the Han dynasty, or the poems of the military leader and statesman Ts'ao Ts'ao (even if, as gossip has it, Mao's poem was corrected and reshaped by Liu Ya-Tzu). But this single example apart, it is not difficult to agree with Arthur Waley's criticism, which used a pictorial comparison and rated Mao's poetry "not as bad as Hitler's painting but not as good as Churchill's". (Simon Leys, The Chairman's New Clothes - Mao and the Cultural Revolution; Allison & Busby, UK 1981)

For what might happen if Mao disapproved of your literary efforts;
http://libcom.org/tags/yenan-literary-opposition

mike-servethepeople
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Joined: 14-01-10
Jan 28 2010 01:36

Samotnaf - I tried the link to your other poems, but coudn't open it. Tried googling sneeringfromelevatedheights and still couldn't locate it. Is there a problem with the URL or am I just technically incompetent as well as a Stalinist and a Maoist and.....

Mike

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Lexxi
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Joined: 25-09-09
Jan 28 2010 02:44

Wasn't there a poem which Mao wrote which went like

I wash my prick
in her cunt

Samotnaf
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Joined: 9-06-09
Jan 28 2010 04:08

mike-servethepeople

Quote:
Samotnaf - I tried the link to your other poems, but coudn't open it. Tried googling sneeringfromelevatedheights and still couldn't locate it. Is there a problem with the URL or am I just technically incompetent as well as a Stalinist and a Maoist and.....

Mike

My apologies - this was a wind-up - some of it explicitly intentional, some of it utterly unintentional. You were not meant to take the poem seriously. It's culturally-specific to the UK, and in my nationalist arrogance I took it for granted (didn't even question it) that Australians would recognise what I guess most people in the UK would recognise as a parody of what already is a parody. It's written in the style of E.J.Thribb (Google that - check it out in Wikipedia) . The website does not exist - EJThribb's "poems" almost always end with a version of :
If you liked this poem, you can download a selection of E.J.Thribb's verses from www.sneeringfromelevatedheights.com .

PS I'm not 71½ either - not quite, anyway. E.J.Thribb's 17½. And has been for several years now - I've been 17½ for almost as long as him.