Wednesday, April 16, 2014

PAD Day 16: An Elegy of Lies

Today's dual prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: (1) Write an elegy (a poem about someone -or  something - that has died),and (2) write a ten-line poem in which every line is a lie.  For some reason I thought of an infamous person who recently shuffled off this mortal coil:

Elegy for Fred Phelps Consisting Entirely of Lies

O Fred, you were a kind and tolerant man.
Your church welcomed people from all walks of life.
You accepted others' differences, especially their sexuality.
You were grateful for the service of our men and women in uniform.
You were a strong supporter of a woman's right to choose.
You always allowed bereaved families to mourn with dignity.
You  quietly held your beliefs and did not impose them on others.
If you disagreed, you did it in a reasonable, intelligent manner.
You surely are in heaven, Fred, and the world will miss you.
May God rest your soul.


Tom said...

I don't think this poem works. Although the prompt used calls for a poem to be built on lines of lies, the title need not proclaim it. Doing so diminishes the impact of the irony. I realise that not everyone gets irony, but I would not re title Swifts's "A Modest Proposal", "A Modest Proposal, But Not Really".

Phelps was an unpleasant character, but it isn't really poetically exposed in this verse. Yes, some of his vile acts are mentioned, but then diluted by attaching a political litany. The lines about abortion or gay marriage might as easily be applied to Pope Francis. One not need agree with Francis (I am not a Catholic), to hold that he is not Fred Phelps.

Good political poetry does something more than state this person is vile, and then attach a political agenda to the name. Good political satire is difficult to get right. It can be found in some of the early Dylan.

As to exposing vile character, I think Stanley Fish's comments on Milton's Satan are instructive. Milton wasn't of Satan's party, but his text makes us aware of how easily we might be seduced by evil.

I make it a point to read your poetry, and am offering these comments because I respect your work.


Bruce Niedt said...

Thanks for your frank critique. I'll take it under advisement. They can't all be home runs.