Let me begin by saying that if you really, genuinely are confused about why WWI and WWII were as bad as people say it is, you’ve either had a terrible history teacher or you…well, I have no hope for you.
As a history student and a lover of all things dead and gone, my particular expertise lies in 20th Century history, particularly post-1919. So while I’m not as well-versed on the Great War (WWI) as I am on World War II, I can still hold my own.
What strikes me most about Anthem for Doomed Youth is how unconventional it was for the time. There have only been very few occasions where war poetry has portrayed war as something negative, as a plague rather than a myriad of blessed angels coming to sprinkle holy water over the rightful country. Now, of course, anti-war literature, media, artwork etc is not exactly rare; but that’s because the veil of nationalism has been lifted from the eyes of many people, particularly after the Vietnamese War, which was the first war to be aired on television (but this would make a good blog topic for another day, actually!).
Now, patriotism by itself isn’t bad. I myself am a patriot. But so were many of the young men who flung themselves head first into the battlefield…and found themselves face to face with the real horrors of war.
Think about it - how easy is it for people to cheer on their soldiers from our living rooms, crying out for them to serve their country? It isn’t until you’re actually witness to how ghastly war is that you begin to realize, “Maybe this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
That was the case with Wilfred Owen. He too was a patriot. He too wanted to help his country rise above the rest, and he did that the best way he knew how - to join the army as it was recruiting soldiers for the first world war.
All well and good. Until you get Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Until you lose your limbs. Even if you come back from the war alive, you’re an invalid for the rest of it. And at a time where prosthetic didn’t even exist, that’s not exactly the easiest life to live.
And then all those teenagers who had their entire lives ahead of them, blown up on a battlefield, for a battle that wasn’t even their own?
“It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”
It’s the first day of eid and the third day of a desperately needed break from school. Honestly, as much as I love all my classes - seriously, I do - it’s just too much.
I’m mentally preparing myself for a lot of crying over the next few months, what with university applications, hounding teachers (<3) for recommendation letters, various extracurriculars, studying etc.
Speaking of university applications, however, it should be noted that writing essays for uni, while not as stressful as for English, is exhausting work. What’s most irritating is how the questions usually have two extremes - painfully specific and painfully allowing. For example -
Painfully specific - “Given what you know about [XXX], what attracts you about its emphasis on creative inquiry and activity and how would you convey what is exciting about your own interests to other students coming from very different intellectual or artistic backgrounds?”
Painfully allowing - “What intrigues you? Tell us about one work of art, scientific achievement, piece of literature, method of communication, or place in the world (a film, book, performance, website, event, location, etc.), and explain its significance to you.”
I have never wanted to shoot a question more.
My favorite essay question so far was hilarious, and there was another one - thankfully optional - that made me cackle but feel ridiculously confused.
“We understand that the college application process often feels stressful, when instead it should be an opportunity for self-reflection. Stop worrying for a minute and have fun with this response.
Much of the work that students do at XXX is a form of storytelling. If you were to write the story of your life until now, what would you title it and why? Please be brief (100-200 words).”
“Imagine you have to wear a costume for a year of your life. What would you pick and why?”
Seriously. As stressful as all these essays are, gems like the two above make it totally worth it.
Hafiz of Shiraz.
I’m just going to start off with this particular quote. It has…honestly always struck me as something so beautiful but I’ve never actually conjured up the desire to mutilate such a perfect sentence with my analyses.
So here it is in all its glory. I’m just going to let that hang around there because it’s just beautiful and needs a place in my blog. I’ll probably analyze some of Hafiz’s work at some point.
I never thought I’d be seeing this blog again. Just as well that I didn’t delete it - sheer sentiment is to thank for that.
Less digression and more literature, however, is the key to this blog. So, um, I’ll just go and make this a masterlist as well as a to-do list of what I hope to write in this blog!
- Wilfred Owen’s poems//the destruction of the Youth by WWI/II//ALL MY FEELINGS about Anthem For Doomed Youth.
- Sylvia Plath and Nazi imagery.
- Song analyses (particularly Cocorosie’s imagery)
- Persian and Urdu poetry (in English, of course)
- Poems and their historical contexts
- Lives of poets
Before I proceed with this post, can I just appeal in advance against my public lynching? Let’s not forget, people, homicide is wrong.
I realize I’m treading on tumultuous ground with the topic of my writing - i.e. the cricket world cup - but it is something that needs to be said, especially by such an avid supporter of the losing team, and a patriot of the country it represents. A country whose name in the news is annotated by implications of terrorism, corruption, civil unrest, sexism and poverty, amongst other less-than-flattering terms.
But politics aside, it has to be said - well done, India. You were the better team. We were a notch sub-par to you. Our team made worse decisions than your team did. Your team was probably better practiced than ours. You are in the finals. Congratulations, sincerely.
And that said…congratulations, Pakistan cricket team. You did us proud, you made us happy and, most of all, you gave this country something to look forward to, and that isn’t something that happens often. We cried with you, we celebrated, we cursed our bad fortune… but we did it together. Unity. Faith. Discipline. And that last one, even though we lost and were bitterly disappointed, our collective hearts broken and our hopes shattered, we made sure not to tarnish.
Boom boom, Afridi lala. Boom boom.
Also, Indian cricket team, congratulations on winning the world cup!
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Muammar Gaddafi - a spectacular, benevolent fellow! Love for his people is oozing out of his every pore and orifice as he makes his monthly rounds to hospital wards, placing kisses on the temples of new-born babies, promising to make Libya - and indeed, the world - a better place for them. He would never dream of using violence against his people! After all, why would they ever protest? The standards of living are fantastic, are they not? And poverty line? What is this “poverty line” you speak of? Libya knows of no such thing!
I wish all of that could be typed without having been dipped in a vat of hot, toxic sarcasm first.
Muammar Gaddafi, I can safely say that you are the instigator of what can’t be called anything but a massacre in your own country. Anything that happens to you now - and something will happen, and soon - is what you deserve. Do not try to garner any sympathy from the international community; you are undeserving of any help that is offered to you and whoever does is equally awful.
Normally, I am quite a liberal, peace-loving person, but massacring your own people is crossing one too many lines and, let me tell you, Mr. Gaddafi, it’s a one-way road.
I have mentioned this woman before, a woman called Suheir Hammad. She is of Palestinian descent. An activist. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. She calls herself a Palestinian New Yorker, a writer, a poet, and again, an activist. She wants to liberate people from war and women from war.
Because, like it or not, do you know who suffers the most in war?
Women and children.
Civilians killings. Rape. Plundering. Misogynistic murder. Girls kidnapped at a young age, gang raped, left for dead. That is the disgusting truth of war that extends beyond soldiers killing soldiers.
You might be thinking, “What about the men?”
What about them? What about the men? Am I not allowed to talk about women without mentioning men? But it’s perfectly alright for me to talk about men without even breathing a word regarding women and girls, am I right? Gender equality! Misandry! Feminazism!
You know what?
You can accuse me of those things after women aren’t paid 70% of what men are under the same corporate position. You can accuse of of those things after the number of poor women in the world is the same as men because, as it stands, the amount of women living in poverty FAR exceeds that of men. You can accuse me of those things when the cases of women raped are taken seriously and not brushed aside by incompetent, chauvinistic police officers.
The list goes on. No, I am not ashamed of being a feminist and don’t you dare call me a feminazi because I am NOT sitting here ordering for men to be piled into gas chambers and mass graves. What is feminism?
1. A doctrine that advocates equal rights for women
2. The movement aimed at equal rights for women
Do you see the word “superiority” anywhere? I don’t.
Now what is chauvinism, a label so many men proudly adhere to?
1. Activity indicative of belief in the superiority of men over women
So why is feminism so much more radical than chauvinism, when the former only vouches for egality and not supremacy? It’s the estrogen that goes with it that people dislike so much.
How about some more statistics!
- 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.
- 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
- Only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.
- In the US Army, females are more likely to be raped by their fellow soldiers than actually get killed in combat.
- Most of the people who scream so loud against the immorality of abortion will never be pregnant in their lives.
This is why I’m a feminist.
This is why I am unashamed to be associated with all the negative connotations that come with women’s empowerment.
This is why being a chauvinist isn’t as edgy as you think it is, my good man and/or woman and/or whathaveyou.
(PS: I don’t hate men so you can keep your misandry accusations out of this.)
It’s interesting how language even came about.
Okay, so that is somewhat of an understatement.
I mean, how could I ever relate to a people who got their entire means of communication, save for proxies and the odd open land line, completely taken away from them?
How could I relate to a people whose men stand guard in front of apartment to save their women and children from thuggish brutality and rape at the hands of government employed “officials?”
How could I relate to a people whose right to control their own country has been taken away from them, not now, but that hasn’t existed for the last 30 years?
I can’t. I can’t begin to, and honestly, I’m privileged for not being able to relate. But at this point the world can’t sit by idly and just watch the chaos in Egypt with faux-concerned faces. Even worse is the plethora of comments I have seen pertaining to how Egypt is doing things all the wrong ways-
Who are you, sitting comfortably (presumably) in your home, miles away from the scene of action, trying to dictate a liberation?
We need to support, not dictate. Global pressure goes a long, long way but for anything to happen, you actually need to get up off your posterior end and t r y for it.
As a child, you have it constantly drilled in your head that, “Oh, you’re too skinny! Eat up, eat up, you’ve got to be nice and healthy if you want to grow.” And so, you do, knowing that with every bite you eat, the smile on your parent, guardian, aunt, uncle, grandparent’s face widens. And so you begin to feel a sense of accomplishment.
Hey, you’re healthy.
But the minute you hit puberty, it all turns around. You’re chastised for eating too much, teased relentlessly for not showing your rib-cage, or aversely for showing your rib-cage. You’re either too skinny or you’re too fat.
Here’s what I have to say - are you a doctor? Do you have any knowledge of how body type works? Do you realize that healthy for someone may not be what’s healthy for you?
Until you understand the difference between big-boned and obese, skinny and malnourished, kindly keep your opinions to yourself.
It’s probably slightly more well-known fact that for those 2 years I had trouble distinguishing fiction from reality.
A lot of trouble.