The New York Times and Reuters published articles in recent days about the difficulties faced by poet Andrew Motion when he came to write his poem in honor of the wedding of Prince Charles and his bride, Camilla. Motion is the present poet laureate of England, and as part of his job he is supposed to write poems in honor of important national events, and particularly in honor of special events in the royal family. Motion is a link in a long historical chain, beginning about 400 years ago with the highly regarded Ben Jonson, and ending with Ted Hughes, equally highly regarded, the poet - and his work - with whom Sylvia Plath, as we know, fell desperately in love.
What is the correct translation of "poet laureate"? Perhaps "national poet" and perhaps "court poet" or "royal poet" or "official poet." It's hard to decide. I prefer "official poet," which is a more neutral term, and doesn't attach an insulting label to the bearer of the title.
Up until the last moment, it wasn't clear whether the "official poet" would manage to overcome the difficulties and produce a poem worthy of his name and the names of the bride and groom. The articles in The New York Times and in Reuters mention serious rhyming problems, among other things: What rhymes would suit Camilla? Should they rhyme with "vanilla" or "Godzilla"? Not at all simple.
We have no kings and queens, no princes and princesses, except for the "Likud princes," of course, whose splendor has already dimmed among the people. In spite of that, we cannot dismiss the national need for such a poet, which will only intensify, because when our creatures are drowning in the sea - we must recite poetry. And in general, who will set the tone for the public singalongs that are so popular in our country? Who here will arouse us to sing and to write poetry together, as the prophetess Deborah in her time was aroused to speak poetry?
Even if we don't have kings and princes, that doesn't mean there aren't important people among us who are worthy of the praise of poets. Isn't Shimon Peres, for example, who is the viceroy, worthy in your opinion? If so, my opinion differs from yours, although Peres' birthday is celebrated several times a year, or at least it seems that way, and a birthday without a poem is like a cover without a pot. And the king himself, Ariel Sharon, why should he lose out? In the case of Sharon, the poet will have no problems with rhyme. On the contrary: the rhymes write themselves - Sharon-aron (closet or coffin)- garon (throat)- haron (anger) - and the possibilities are limitless.
And amazingly enough - what a marvelous coincidence - there have been rumors in recent weeks to the effect that in Jerusalem an "arousing poet," who is the "official poet," has already been chosen, and that for the moment his identify is being kept secret. Those same rumors hint that the "official poet" comes from the ranks of recently appointed deputy ministers, on the assumption that their high spirits at the time of their appointment will only help to improve their poetry.
It is quite possible that one of two deputy ministers has been chosen - Gila Gamliel or Ruhama Avraham - who are among the nine Muses on Mount Helicon, in charge of dance and song, like Terpsichore, or of lyric poetry and elegy, like Erato.
However, it is quite possible that the chosen one is Majallie Whbee, who upon his election to the Knesset immediately gained prominence as a poet, and even as a trumpeter in the midst of "the court."
On third thought, we should not dismiss the possibility that the lot fell on Eli Aflalo; nobody can compete with the sweet serenades he sings under Sharon's windows, not before he adapts them in the bathroom. The most logical choice is deputy minister Marina Solodkin, who was raised on Pushkin and Lermontov.
Whatever the case, this week a piece of paper fell on the editor's desk - another strange coincidence - and according to all the signs, this is the first poem by the new "official poet," which is being published here for the first time:
"Our master-our king Sharon is destroying Gush Katif / After already once destroying Yamit / And we all love him and embrace him / Because he, the architect, is doing it. / Instead of attacking him with criticism and jeers / Why don't we wipe away his tears / Instead of reacting with protests and madness / Why don't we comfort him in his sadness."
And this lovely poem by the anonymous poet has even been given a suitable name - "The Crocodile."
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