Journal For Poetry Challenge# 01/4/2012

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The plight of the Jewish Refugees of  WW2 is an echo of the plight of refugees down the centuries and I am afraid that even with all our bluster and “open arms” we are still treating refugees of all kinds the same.

Today I am talking about war from a different angle. The angle of the displaced, the refugee, the stateless, the homeland less, the unwanted. Imagine one day you are told, pack a suit case and get out of your house you no lonlger belong in this country you have no rights here, you own nothing here. Go or we will kill you.

It would be wrong, unthinkable you would call the papers, call the police but no one is interested in you. You are nothing, you no longer exist. No, No I hear you saying this could not happen…. IT IS ALL OVER THE WORLD IT IS HAPPENING. In Africa, China, USSR,The Middle East in fact I believe that to some extent it is happening in every country of this world.

We have learned nothing.  This quote “Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,A thousand windows and a thousand doors; Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.   Sadly that says it all.

The plight of the Refugee is still with us, some get separated and relatives can spend years trying to trace each other, yes even in this internet world it can still happen. I do not know the answer I am just doing my challenge and learning so much as I do. … I am ashamed.

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Refugee Blues       by W H Auden

Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew;
Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports can’t do that.

The consul banged the table and said:
‘If you’ve got no passport, you’re officially dead’;
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year:
But where shall we go today, my dear, but where shall we go today?

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said:
‘If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread’;
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying: ‘They must die’;
We were in his mind, my dear, we were in his mind.

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t the human race.

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors;
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.

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W. H. Auden

Wystan Hugh Auden was born in York, England, in 1907. He moved to Birmingham during childhood and was educated at Christ Church, Oxford. As a young man he was influenced by the poetry of Thomas Hardy and Robert Frost, as well as William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Old English verse. At Oxford his precocity as a poet was immediately apparent, and he formed lifelong friendships with two fellow writers, Stephen Spender and Christopher Isherwood

He has been admired for his unsurpassed technical virtuosity and an ability to write poems in nearly every imaginable verse form; the incorporation in his work of popular culture, current events, and vernacular speech; and also for the vast range of his intellect, which drew easily from an extraordinary variety of literatures, art forms, social and political theories, and scientific and technical information. He had a remarkable wit, and often mimicked the writing styles of other poets such as Emily Dickinson, W. B. Yeats, and Henry James. His poetry frequently recounts, literally or metaphorically, a journey or quest, and his travels provided rich material for his verse.

He visited Germany, Iceland, and China, served in the Spanish Civil war, and in 1939 moved to the United States, where he met his lover, Chester Kallman, and became an American citizen. His own beliefs changed radically between his youthful career in England, when he was an ardent advocate of socialism and Freudian psychoanalysis, and his later phase in America, when his central preoccupation became Christianity and the theology of modern Protestant theologians. A prolific writer, Auden was also a noted playwright, librettist, editor, and essayist. Generally considered the greatest English poet of the twentieth century, his work has exerted a major influence on succeeding generations of poets on both sides of the Atlantic.

W. H. Auden was a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 1954 to 1973, and divided most of the second half of his life between residences in New York City and Austria. He died in Vienna in 1973. For more information please visit http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/120

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Poetry Challenge #7 is to create a journal of links and your reactions to poems by established (living or dead poets.) Details are here.  Example response is here. Mr. Linky for Challenge #7 is directly below:

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25 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. DaPoet
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 13:09:58

    When the Jews demanded that Pilate put Christ to death they shouted out: “His blood be on us and our children!” If only they could have seen the end from the beginning perhaps they would have paused to think about their actions. But then again probably not since today’s Jews with the complicity of the untied nations and the us of a are engaging in this very same behavior in Palestine.

    Reply

    • WordsFallFromMyEyes
      Apr 01, 2012 @ 20:23:03

      Hey DaPoet. It always intrigues me when people accidentally say “untied nations”. It’s a very interesting slip!

      This was a great post by Willowdot21 – I really appreciated it.

      Reply

      • willowdot21
        Apr 01, 2012 @ 20:59:58

        Well spotted Noeleen ‘untied nations is a deep slip. I did not notice it until you mentioned it. Thanks for your support I really am grateful. X

      • DaPoet
        Apr 01, 2012 @ 23:24:33

        I always try to be as accurate as possible when I write, however, typos do creep in from time to time. Which is why I tend to ignore them whenever reading someone else’s posts as long the typo doesn’t prevent me from understanding what they are saying. However interesting the typo it doesn’t detract from the fact that the UNITED NATIONS placed its seal of approval on the stealth invasion and the terrorist activities of the Zionist Movement. When that body gave in to the Jewish terrorists by recreating the nation of Israel and handed Palestine over to a people determined to commit the very same human rights violations against the Arab population as they suffered under the Nazis.

      • willowdot21
        Apr 02, 2012 @ 06:58:10

        No criticism was meant I honestly though that it was an interesting almost “Freudian” slip. The idea of Untied Nations is a frightening one all nations doing as they please. Sadly this is nearer to the truth than we care to accept and say out loud. Yes I know the united nations have sanctioned may bad things ( bad in the true sense of the word not the new street meaning!) I do not agree with many things going on in the world. So the comment was not so much a criticism but an applauding of your unconscious for knowing things are not as they should be.

      • WordsFallFromMyEyes
        Apr 02, 2012 @ 07:20:16

        Oh, we all try & be accurate. I hope you didn’t take offence. I just love quirky typos. I like spoonerisms too.

        I don’t know that much of this which is happening, so I really cannot comment. I don’t know if they were Jewish terrorists, or just Jews, and I don’t know if the people all are determined to commit the human rights violations that they suffered under Nazis. I don’t know this at all, but it does sound a tragedy right under our noses. Human life has made me depressed since I can remember.

      • willowdot21
        Apr 02, 2012 @ 08:06:59

        Life is so sad Noeleen, the situation of which you speak is very complicated and painful. I only know what I see on the news. I do not know what Dapoet knows about the subject. It is way too deep for us to cope with on here. This place is for our poems and stories. I am sorry that my choice of poem for the poetry challenge has caused this exchange. So lets all ignore typos eek you can laugh at though it does not worry me and usually I do not comment on others’ but as you say that one was very interesting!! Hugs to you and Daniel.xxx

      • WordsFallFromMyEyes
        Apr 02, 2012 @ 08:10:34

        You’re so sweet, Willowdot21 :). There is no problem with the exchange. What is GOOD, is it was open & honest. That’s just fine with me.

        If you want to delete anything I’ve written, you are so welcome. Your page is yours, you know….

        And don’t be sorry your piece evoked thought & passion. Damn good piece, for that!

      • willowdot21
        Apr 02, 2012 @ 08:47:16

        OH! I found the post of your I thought I had lost!! more tea??

      • WordsFallFromMyEyes
        Apr 02, 2012 @ 08:50:27

        Ha ha! Sorry, nope, I’m tea TOTALLED!!

      • willowdot21
        Apr 02, 2012 @ 08:40:32

        Thanks Noeleen you are a great support and a welcome visitor, where are my manners here is your cup of tea…milk and sugar ?? and some juice for Daniel..no sugar we must look after his teeth!! Bless him.
        Now the thing is I think I have deleted one of you comments the last one you sent I am all fingers and thumbs this morning. Anyway I did not mean to delete it and if you still have it you can send it again!
        I am glad too that the post provoked thought but I hope people get the point of it. You did, it is the plight of the refugee from where ever they come from!
        Thank you for you kind words and please drop by any time you are always welcome as are all!! xxxx

  2. willowdot21
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 13:22:38

    Yes I agree with you on that. I had picked German Jews as refugee’s to start with as they had a huge tale to tell and it fitted in with my challenge. I know now I maybe should of not mentioned the word Jewish. I agree what they are doing in Palestine is absolutely no better than what was done to them. Such short memories such selectivity.
    I am sorry I have no wish to upset or push any buttons. I was just facing facts.
    If ever a race could eat their words it maybe them …or persecuted or not maybe not. I shall never know I am not Jewish. So please forgive the nationality of the refugees and see the whole. Again sorry.

    Reply

  3. DaPoet
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 14:33:49

    Hello Willowdot21…

    🙂 I actually saw the whole – wasn’t offended – nor felt that my buttons had been pushed. I only wanted to mention that today’s Jews are just as guilty of violating “Human Rights” just as every racial group of humanity has done to another group that was weaker at the time. It is simply part of “Human Nature” to fall into the temptation of dominating others from time to time and it is a failure of Humanity as a whole that we continue to let it happen don’t put a stop to it.

    Reply

  4. WordsFallFromMyEyes
    Apr 01, 2012 @ 20:25:14

    I cannot imagine being a refugee, and thank God it is not my lot. Good post, WD21. It is happening world over – and what the hell can we do…

    Reply

  5. DaPoet
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 08:47:11

    Willowdot21 and Noeleen…

    Everything is cool. I’m sorry that I came on a bit too strong. In the past I’ve argued with Conservatives on issues like this a little too often so that now I find that I’m a little too much like them for comfort. The post on the Jewish Refugees of WW2 is a good one for the poetry challenge so please don’t take it down. 🙂

    Reply

    • willowdot21
      Apr 02, 2012 @ 09:06:46

      Hi DaPoet I am glad all is cool! I just want to make people think about how nothing has changed and that what happened then still happens now. I understand what you are saying. ..now would you like tea or coffee and remember drop by when ever you wish too!! be happy and have a good day! xx 😀

      Reply

  6. granbee
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 20:21:14

    W.H. Auden was my guiding light, my guru, during much of high school and college (or Uni, as you Brits would say!). I always honored him for the stances he took on such global human welfare issues as displaced refugees and ignored refugees, as he says so masterfully in this poem you have selected to share with us here today for your “challenge”. Very well done willowdot!

    Reply

    • willowdot21
      Apr 02, 2012 @ 20:41:07

      I just knew you love Auden they way he writes is just so you. I am totally knocked out every time I read his words he says so much in a few words and he never picks an easy subject. I think his poem has been very thought provoking and has met with some reaction. Thanks for your continued support granbee I am grateful!

      Reply

  7. Vampire Weather
    Apr 02, 2012 @ 20:21:49

    A frightfully vivid work, Willow. Wonderfully done!

    Reply

  8. Thomas Davis
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 14:36:52

    Willow, this is a great post. Auden is a great poet, and his subject in this case was one of the most frightening episodes faced by humans. I am glad you chose the poem and story you chose to highlight. Man’s inhumanity to not only his fellow man, but to the citizens of the earth, to paraphrase Aldo Leopold, is always sad. We are here for such a short space of time inside our lives, and so often what should be a life walking in beauty, as the Navajo say, is a life walking in fear, hate, misogyny, war, power, or some other path that leads to darkness, not light. It is good to notice the darker aspects of life in order to realize the light shining on a meadow of yellow grasses in the early morning of an early spring day. Thank you, Willow.

    Reply

  9. willowdot21
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 15:05:32

    I am so pleased that this post has struck a cord with so many people. But still no lessens are learnt. Young people care returning from the war zones after defending their countries, either physically or mentally disabled or scarred. There is no help for them they give their all and some fall so low that they commit suicide!There are war refugees in many countries …when will we learn.
    Auden is definitely the man to “say it ” he would be a help if he was still alive. I must not say too much for fear of saying too much but I am so grateful for your support!

    Reply

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