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Brother, Can You Spare a War? - poetry by Lynn Veach Sadler
If this world would have been sufficiently mature to give birth to an anti-war prophet, this collection would have certainly ranked high in such a prophet’s sources of inspiration.
Through a carrousel of poems paying tribute to a range of emotions covering sarcastic, factual, dramatic, comic, demanding, accusing - Dr. Lynn Veach Sadler time-travels and place-travels, visiting humanity’s belligerent history with her clear, sharp, deeply penetrative scalpel of words. And there is absolutely no doubt as to the whereabouts of her sympathies’ lair.
Though war is “raw” and looks backward, I do not, as in Snakes in the Sass, write a “Backword.”
The poems here throw up such motives for war as evil hating good, an inheritance of Nature’s propensity to accrete and be corroded, excuse, plain old pelf (including the raping of other cultures), exploration, conquest . . . . In the aggregate, war wars against animals, races, ideas, wives/women and more, as well as pitting humans against humans. In the midst of its attendant horrors, individuals plead to be remembered, try to purge the evil from themselves and repair their worlds, sift for meaning and traces of lives and cultures . . . .
Specifically, these poems offer up wars well known (e.g., World War II, Vietnam, today’s Iraq and Afghanistan)
A dominant theme is what war teaches and to our offspring in particular. A number of the poems thus let children/teenagers respond to war and show how it molests them. Questions are thrown up. Can we still have warriors as “fierce and honorable” as the Maoris? What happens to those on the “wrong side” in their own countries? How do the stance and course get moved from individual to country to world? Have we had “good wars”? Do we have “good wars” now?
The last two of those queries reverberate in “The Croatian Spring” of the last line of “Sucking Snake Venom” and turn the thoughts to the current “Arab Spring.” Similarly, today’s protests against the Stock Exchange recall Abbie Hoffman’s throwing dollars onto its floor and leading fifty thousand Yippies “to surround the Pentagon and levitate it/with their combined psychic energy” [“Abbie Hoffman, Nam (and So Much More)”].
Milton taught me the human responsibility to examine alternatives, including, especially, the likely actions one’s stances will evoke from others. As the Dubrovnik tiles ask (“The Tiles War”), “Why can’t humans compromise before—/not after—war?”
I find myself having stayed away from what scares me most about war today—our helplessness in the face of those convinced that their salvation is killing themselves to devour as many others as they can take with them. Minds must focus to resolve this dilemma, or the world is lost.
~ Lynn Veach Sadler ~
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Page Updated Last on: Dec 16, 2011