Everybody's A Critic

Saddam seems to have settled into a humdrum existence behind bars. He gets out of his cell which is 12 feet by 15 feet twice a day for recreation, which includes exercising and tending plants, said al-Rubaie, who visited him three months ago... He is said to be writing a novel, "Get Out, You Damned," excerpts of which have appeared in a London-based Arab newspaper, and has written poetry. "I can tell you one thing, they're really the most rubbishy poems on Earth," al-Rubaie said. "Even I could write poems in English better than he could in Arabic."

As we read this morning, al-Rubaie is not a fan of infamous Iraqi poet Saddam Hussein. But just how well does his own verse stack up against that of the artist who created 'Get Out, You Damned'? We decided to put him to the test. Here is an excerpt from his work 'Love and Hate', which al-Rubaie describes as 'OK'.

Love, and hate they say...
Love, hate; what's the difference ?
One is a four letter word, so is the other
The former can make life worth living, or make it hell on earth
So could the latter
One is bad, the other is worse
Which is which?
I know not, but what I do know is a simple fact
The fact that they go hand in hand...

We could read no further. Surely Saddam's verse must be bad indeed. We have verified this by translating one of his short poems, 'al-Rekre faqui dahl', into English.

My hernia operation
I still can feel the sting
If laparoscopic is the way you choose to deal
With this vile insult to the flesh
Ouch, ouch I cry and eyes tear up
Inside my tiny cell
Where twice a day I do escape
To walk amongst the cabbage plants
And ponder Camelot.

Clearly, al-Rubaie is the better of the two poets, and although we do not care to further explore his work, we must agree with him that Saddam's work is indeed rubbishy.


2004, Mark Hoback