6

He haunts us still


 

Glen Pearson raises Brian Mulroney’s foreign policy legacy to wonder why more isn’t being done for Abousfian Abdelrazik.

Rob Silver wonders why anyone would want to associate with a former prime minister who left office with the lowest approval rating in history.

Douglas Bell suggests everyone watch the Fifth Estate tonight.


 

He haunts us still

    • Thanks for this. Very convenient.

    • Jack, is that you?

      For someone suffering from poetry withdrawal, when will your latest be?

      • What a flattering question! Alas, I am tied up with work this fine evening, but perhaps you haven’t seen my pre-posted, though on-topic, “Schreiberballade”?

        Die Schreiberballade

        The wind was in the Southern alps,
           Ocktoberfest was past,
        And there upon the mountain heath
           I met a man aghast.

        He sat beside an empty sack,
           In Schreiberhosen clad;
        “My father’s name, my father’s name!”
           His voice was passing sad.

        “Oh, stranger, who art thou?” I called
           And hastened to his side.
        “Why dost thou on the mountain heath
           Thus mortify thy pride?”

        “I was a prince,” he weeping said,
           “Across the western sea,
        My brother was a mighty king,
           More powerful than me.

        “I sensed it was my fate to reign,
           I coveted his throne;
        My treachery was kept in check
           By lack of funds alone.

        “By chance, one woeful winter morn,
           (Forget, I never shall!)
        My steps sought out the magic vale
           They call the Schreibertal:

        “Like silver shine that valley’s fields,
           A gilded pleasure-park;
        The blooms upon the trees appear
           As dollar, franc, and mark.

        “And as I wandered, now I heard
           The piping of a flute,
        And to my ears the song described
           The joy of German loot.

        “Beneath a tree the piper sat,
           The music reached an end;
        Now up he leapt and shook my hand
           And smiled just like a friend.

        “No more than four feet tall he stood,
           All ruddy was his hide;
        But as he danced about I felt
           A twinge of Schreiberleid.

        “”Now thou art come,” the wight declared,
           “We’ve long awaited thee
        In Schreibertal we understand
           No throne is bought for free.

        “”Thou wouldst ascend? Then I shall help!
           Thou art a Schreiberfreund.
        This money and thy kingly dream
           My piping hath conjoined.

        “Just so the Schreiberhobbit spoke
           And ope’d a sack of gold;
        And countless glistening coins were there,
           A wonder to behold;

        “”But first there is a price,” he said,
           “A footnote to thy fame:
        Not now, not now, but yet someday
           Shalt owe thy father’s name.

        “The gold was fair, and in my mind
           I pictured my renown;
        The gold was fair, and on my head
           I felt my brother’s crown.”

        “Stop there, poor prince!” I cried, appalled —
           My teeth began to gnash —
        “Or tell me, for G-d’s sake, that thou
           Didst spurn th’ enchanted cash!”

        “Alas!” he wailed, with staring eyes,
           “As though by hell impelled,
        As helpless as in evil dreams,
           I took the Schreibergeld.

        “Then back I went, and with my haul
           I gave my brother grief:
        My thanes flew to my banner bright,
           Securing me the fief.

        “For nine sweet years I reigned in bliss,
           In battle triumphed twice,
        But in the glory of myself
           Forgot the Schreiberpreis.

        “One night, between the royal sheets,
           Just as the midnight neared,
        I woke and heard a raven squawk:
           The elfin sprite appeared.

        “I would not pay — I would not go —
           The cash was all but spent —
        I bade him flee to Schreibertal;
           He vowed I would repent.

        “No dungeon guards could hold him back,
           But from the walls he spoke:
        My father’s name he soon destroyed
           Before the frightened folk.

        “My castle burnt, my sceptre snapped,
           With empty sack I roam:
        Behold me now, my friend, and dread
           The vengeance of a gnome!”

        So spoke the broken prince, and wept,
           And could not be appeased;
        I fled across the mountain heath
           By haunting horror seized;

        But in my ears his words ring still
           Like echoes from a tomb;
        To all the world I propagate
           The lesson of his doom:

        Oh, do not swear a Schreiberschwur
           To be a Schreiberheld!
        Go never into Schreibertal
           To seek the Schreibergeld!

        • Magnificent !

          Looking for meaning in adaptation? Look no farther. A seminal work in the art of poetic commentary — more real for its collision with truth than its refusal to accept the opposite.

          I have no idea what this last bit means, so I’ll say it again — Magnificent !

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