Kevin Higgins’s poem provokes something approaching an international political storm
|Galway poet Kevin Higgins’s poem ‘The Eternal Peace Activist’ , which was published on the leading U.K. based current affairs website Harry’s Place on Monday (August 26th), has provoked something approaching an international political storm. At last count Higgins’s poem had been commented on 226 times; ‘The Eternal Peace Activist’ had provoked an at times quite heated debate about possible Cruise missile strikes against Assad’s Syria. The poem could be read as a satire on pacifism and anti-war movements. As critic David Wheatley tweeted on reading the poem, “Higgins has long flayed the flower power tendency in Irish poetry.” The published poem can be read here.|
after Donovan and Pete Seeger
When the child soldiers came to our village,
I offered them green, red, yellow
I didn’t throw grenades at black limousines
carrying Nazi leaders
I spent the morning
of the St. Bartholomew’s Day
massacre, trying to organise
a group hug.
During the Sack of Constantinople
I was busy writing
a strongly worded statement
against the blood that ran
in the gutters like rain.
Each night I pray
they’ll leave it to the United Nations,
Arab League, Warsaw Pact to sort
out amongst themselves.
I asked Genghis Khan
where all the flowers had gone?;
told Chemical Ali about the universal
soldier who, unlike me, really is to blame.
When you showed me room after room
of your relatives’ carefully stacked skulls,
I said: the internal affairs
of Democratic Kampuchea
are not my business.
Even if one of those heads
was mine, I’d not lift
a fingernail to keep it attached
to its owner, think the peace talks in Paris
must be given another chance.
When a four foot boy clad in black
bomber jacket shoved a lit kerosene rag,
through my neighbour’s letterbox,
I didn’t take the easy way out
and familiarize his cranium
with the pavement.
Now, he’s six foot eight
and has a gang who go around with him.