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Pinter Wins Nobel Prize for Literature

Today, British playwright Harold Pinter won the 2005 Nobel Literature Prize. A prolific writer, his work includes plays, screenplays, prose and poetry. His politics are vehement ... he is adamantly against the war in Iraq and one can't help but believe his selection in some sense reflects a global community's applause of this worldview.

Below is one of his most recent poems (posted out of a sense of shame. But it is better to know what others think -- and be shamed -- than to pretend others don't exist):

God Bless America

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.

Harold Pinter, January 2003

photo: Harold Pinter, John Fowles and Karel Reisz on the set of 'The French Lieutenant's Woman'


Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

Well, I'm against this war too. Against almost all wars, as far as that goes.

But I don't happened to think that this is a particularly good poem. Just MHO.

Good post.

7:22 PM

Blogger mireille said...

Yeah, I don't like the poem, either. But I'm not sure if it's because I don't like the poem, or I hate what he's saying because there may be some truth in it. And I don't like to think of us that way. xoxo

8:07 PM

Blogger actonbell said...

I agree that I don't like to think of us that way, but I can certainly understand why someone would.

Incidently, Pinter wrote the screenplay for The French Lieutenant's Woman, which I'm almost finished reading:)
(you already knew that)

3:29 AM

Blogger Kate said...

I like the poem. It's very hard to take, but so is death.

6:28 AM

Blogger Bela said...

I think I'd rather remember Pinter for good plays than bad poems.

Actually, he's also produced some very bad plays, one of which I translated into French when BBC TV entered in the Prix Italia, some years ago. Mountain Language says quite a few interesting things, but, wow!, it's boring. No, really really boring. It doesn't work as a play. As a political tract maybe, not as a play.

Hey, I've now translated two Nobel Prize for Literature winners. I'm glad Pinter got it: he deserves it.

7:55 AM

Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Heavy poem. Unfortunately, it rings true.

Congratulations Mr. Pinter!

9:46 AM

Blogger Lulu said...

I love what they said about awarding it to him - that his works reveal 'the precipice beneath the prattle'. That's exactly it. The other thing they said, about him forcing open the locked rooms of oppression or something, was referring to Mountain Language, I think.

He didn't seem to be sure whether the award related to his politics, either, in what he said afterwards.

1:11 PM

Blogger Campaspe said...

I'm against the war too, and think Mr. Pinter's dramatic work deserved to be recognized.

But this is a terrible poem, with stale language and imagery that manages to make all this horror banal. He won something called the Wilfrid Owen prize, but this poem does not begin to compare with Owen. It makes you appreciate the feat the WWI poets accomplished, in producing poetry that lived as verse, not just as agitprop.

1:19 PM


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