Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ode to a Leader

The Leader (anonymous)

Patient and steady with all he must bear,
Ready to meet every challenge with care,
Easy in manner, yet solid as steel,
Strong in his faith, refreshingly real.
Isn't afraid to propose what is bold,
Doesn't conform to the usual mould,
Eyes that have foresight, for hindsight won't do,
Never backs down when he sees what is true,
Tells it all straight, and means it all too.
Going forward and knowing he's right,
Even when doubted for why he would fight,
Over and over he makes his case clear,
Reaching to touch the ones who won't hear.
Growing in strength he won't be unnerved,
Ever assuring he'll stand by his word.
Wanting the world to join his firm stand,
Bracing for war, but praying for peace,
Using his power so evil will cease,
So much a leader and worthy of trust,
Here stands a man who will do what he must.

The inclusion of this poem in a textbook for teaching 16 year-old Pakistani schoolchildren English has led to the book being withdrawn by the Pakistani Government. The poem was, apparently, taken from the internet without much analysis, and included as an ode to an abstract ideal of leadership. It didn't take long, however, for the press to realise what the first letter of each line spelled out; and Musharraf's critics have siezed upon it as further proof that his regime is in the pocket of the US.

Embarrassed government officials have, apparently, acknowledged that the poem was uncritically lifted from the web, and, stressing that there was no actual intention to glorfy the character of George Bush, have ordered that the textbok be withdrawn. As the
Independent notes, however, although it seems unlikely that an ode to Bush would have been deliberately included, it is even less plausible that such painfully clumsy verse could have been meant to teach foreign students the correct or poetic use of the English language. "Even when doubted for why he would fight"? Yoda may have been strong with the force, but he could never have been a poet...

1 comment:

nathan gibbs said...

William McGonagle is live and well