Poets Against War-Fall Newsletter 2006

In this issue:

Howard Zinn: Rise Like Lions: Writers and Resistance
Sam Hamill: Director's Report

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Rise Like Lions: Writers and Resistance

by Howard Zinn
August 2006.

Whenever I become discouraged (which is on alternate Tuesdays, between three and four) I lift my spirits by remembering: the writers are on our side! I mean those poets, novelists, playwrights and songwriters who speak to the world in a way that is impervious to assault because they wage the battle for justice in a sphere which is unreachable by the dullness of ordinary political discourse.

The billionaire mandarins of our culture can show us the horrors of war on a movie screen and pretend they are making an important statement (“War is hell”, says the general as he orders his troops forward into no-man's land). But the artists go beyond that, to resistance, defiance. I think of Edna St. Vincent Millay, in her poem “Conscientious Objector”:

I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death.
I hear him leading his horse out of the stall; I hear the clatter
on the barn floor.

He is in haste; he has business in Cuba, business in the Balkans,
many calls to make this morning.
But I will not hold the bridle while he cinches the girth.
And he may mount by himself: I will not give him a leg up.

Though he flick my shoulders with his whip, I will not tell
him which the way the fox ran.
With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where the black
boy hides in the swamp.
I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on
his pay-roll….

Read the complete article

Op-Ed By Sam Hamill
Director of Poets Against War

There Is No Natural Religion
William Blake

The Argument. Man has no notion of moral fitness but from Education. Naturally he is only a natural organ subject to Sense.

I. Man cannot naturally Perceive but through his natural or bodily organs.
II. Man by his reasoning power can only compare & judge of what he has already perceiv'd.
III. From a perception of only 3 senses or 3 elements none could deduce a fourth or fifth.
IV. None could have other than natural or organic thoughts if he had none but organic perceptions.
V. Man's desires are limited by his perceptions, none can desire what he has not perceiv'd.
VI. The desires & perceptions of man, untaught by any thing but organs of sense, must be limited to objects of sense.
Conclusion. If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic character the Philosophic or Experimental would soon be at the ratio of all things, & stand still, unable to do other than repeat the same dull round over again.
Or, one is tempted to say, things would “stay the course.”
Seeing pictures of pre-pubescent Israeli girls writing messages on American-made bombs to be delivered via American-made aircraft by the Israeli military to murder Lebanese children is an utter outrage.

When did targeting civilian populations and bombing them stop being a war crime? Why must this outrage continue, decade after decade? No one is innocent. Silence is complicity.

The President of the United States—who believes he should have the right to maintain secret prisons and torture prisoners and who defines an unprovoked attack on another country as a defensive measure—refused to demand a cease-fire. He is an accomplice in the murder of innocent children. And since we all finance this bloodshed, we too are accomplices. And now we shall finance the rebuilding, in part, of Lebanon . This is utterly insane.


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