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Unholy Sonnets

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"Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;

With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise."

- W. H. Auden, In Memory of W.B.Yeats

The Little Funerals

On August 19th, a yellow cement truck exploded outside the UN's headquarters in Baghdad. At least 20 people were killed. Mr. Vieira de Mello lay trapped, alive, in the rubble for several hours before he too, died. Evil triumphed, at least temporarily.

Obituary of Vieira de Mello, "the UN's top man in Iraq",

- The Economist, August 23rd 2003

Health Ministry Statistics say that the incidence of abnormal births has increased 400-fold since 1991. The Iraqis also say that, all told, 1.7m children have died because of the various effects of UN sanctions.

- The Economist, September 14th 2002

2 million children died in the 12-year siege
Of Iraq; yet one man's death made the headlines.
Those murders were all legal: this one wasn't.
Who was the vigilante who killed him
And himself? Father? Uncle? What sort of
Relationship with the dead children would
Justify his own death, and murder, too,
Just as the little funerals had been?
In the hours that Vieira de Mello lay
Buried alive, what were his thoughts, one wonders?
Initially, there must have been hope, then
Despair; like mothers watching children for
Signs of recovery before the signs of death:
Did evil triumph now, or had it triumphed then?

Killed by an Idea

An activist of Bangladesh Chatra League (BCL) [opposition student wing] was stabbed to death in the city on January 6. Five activists of Jatiyatabadi Chatra Dal (JCD) [ruling party student wing] swooped on Akbar Sultan, 18, a second-year student of MC college, on the campus around 10:30 am and stabbed [him] in the abdomen and legs. Akbar was admitted to the Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries at 8 pm....

The Bangladesh Chatra League (BCL) yesterday demanded immediate arrest and trial of the killers of Akbar Sultan, vice-president of Sylhet Government College unit

- The Daily Star, January 9, 2003

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Iftekhar Sayeed teaches English and economics. He was born and lives in Dhaka, ├ éČ┼ŻBangladesh. He has contributed to AXIS OF LOGIC, ENTER TEXT, POSTCOLONIAL ├ éČ┼ŻTEXT, LEFT CURVE, MOBIUS, ERBACCE, THE JOURNAL, and other publications. ├ éČ┼ŻHe (more...)
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