Just to be fair (which is not exactly typical for me)... I will actually use this forum to quite rightly question the poetry of a man that I expressly admire, whose politics I absolutely adore, and whose plays are unbeatable.
This particular poem, though, gives me pause.
God Bless America
by Harold Pinter - January 2003
Here they go again,
The Yanks in their armoured parade
Chanting their ballads of joy
As they gallop across the big world
Praising America's God.
The gutters are clogged with the dead
The ones who couldn't join in
The others refusing to sing
The ones who are losing their voice
The ones who've forgotten the tune.
The riders have whips which cut.
Your head rolls onto the sand
Your head is a pool in the dirt
Your head is a stain in the dust
Your eyes have gone out and your nose
Sniffs only the pong of the dead
And all the dead air is alive
With the smell of America's God.
1. Harold Pinter hates you. Why does he hate you so much?
2. What does Pinter say "between the lines" with this poem?
3. I knew a girl in Junior High that wrote a lot of poems like this one. She used to draw little Egyptian symbols on her wrists and arms with black marker, because she either didn't have the guts to get real tattoos, or she also identified that it was just a phase. I can't remember her name. She was pretty nice, but I think her parents weren't very nice to her. Or she just was the youngest of like three girls and she was trying to stake out an identity. She was really bitter. I mean, it was cool and everything, and she could be pretty funny, but there was also something sort of competitive about it, if you know what I mean. Like she was trying to imply she had lived this dreadful life, but really, I bet if you asked her, she'd been pretty lucky. All her clothes were sort of awesome. She was overweight, ok...I can see how that can be tough in Junior High. But seriously, what was with all the doom and gloom? It's not like God personally was doing shit just to hurt her. Anyway...sorry, I can't remember what I was going to ask you. You get automatic credit for this question. WAIT. Now I remember! Why is Harold Pinter writing poems that sound like they belong in the notebook of a 14 year old goth girl?
4. The line "I hate them" is actually NOT in this poem. How could Pinter have forgotten it?
5. Describe, in detail, America's God. Why is He such a bloodthirsty bastard?
EXTRA CREDIT! When Pinter won the Nobel Prize, did he win it for Poetry? Why or why not?
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.