Description of an idea
You can nail it to a cross
And it will rise again after three days.
You can put it in the arena with several wild beasts
and it will survive its own dismemberment.
You can tie it to a stake and light faggots under it
and the crackling of the flames will speak volumes.
You can exile it to Siberia
and it will still cry out with the voice of Ivan Denisovich.
You can beat it to a bloody pulp in a public square in Peking
and it will still think of freedom.
You can turn the Star Chamber and the SS
and the KGB and the Savak
and the State Security Bureau
loose on it
and someone somewhere will still think it
and someone somewhere will still die for it
and someone somewhere will give it new life.
For an idea is an organism more mysterious in its action
than the miracidium.
…You can declare an idea anathema to 999,999,999 people
and the billionth will reach for a dictionary.
Bruce Dawe (1930 – 2020)
Miracidium – a free-swimming cillated larval stage which a parasitic fluke passes from the egg to its first host, typically a snail
Anathema – something greatly disliked
Essentially a list poem of six ‘You can …’ type statements which show serious repressive organisations and associated horrific happenings over the ages in chronological order …
Burning at the stake
Siberia – used by Russia as a place of exile
Ivan Denisovich – a prisoner of war by the Germans who was incorrectly sentenced to 10 years forced labour by Russia
Star Chamber – English court which sat in the royal Palace of Westminster from the 15th century to the mid-17th century
SS – military branch of the Nazi party
KGB – Secret Police of the Soviet Union
Savak – secret police in Iran supported by the USA
State Security Bureau – secret intelligence and security in China
(George Floyd can now be added to the list.)
And then the three ‘and someone somewhere’ responses that the idea will still live … and of more importance ‘someone will die for it’ … indicating the idea has value.
And then the closing two statements that an idea is a truly mysterious thing in its action … and that word miracidium a mysterious wonder of the natural world … and the idea may be anathema to a billion but to someone it will be worth considering … looking in the ‘dictionary’ = to try to understand what it means.
And other thoughts come to mind on this idea of an impregnable idea … perhaps freedom and the human spirit itself is equally impregnable … I like to think so.
Bruce Dawe an Australian poet who died earlier this year … a link to one of his memorable poems – ‘At Shaggers Funeral’.