Paul Elisha

Commentator and Host, Poetry Forum

Ways To Connect

In the past week, an important event in theatrical history celebrated an even more crucial event in our nation’s political history, when Gerald Rafshoon and Lawrence Wright (confidante and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright) presented “Camp David,” a dramatization of the thirteen volatile days of intense debate that produced the first negotiated agreement on a peace initiative between Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Menachem Begin;  the most historically vital achievement of the Carter Presidency.

Those who would pillory our current President with biased blame for every current ill, to which their own calculated intransigence has contributed, are at odds with political history.  Before they finagle with falsehood and fabricate pure political fiction, to capture unworthy vindication by voters, they should consult the 1978 edition of a tiny text, this commentator still finds invaluable.  It’s titled “American History At A Glance.”  This is a brief quote from Chapter 14, titled: “The Harding Administration.”

In the strange reversal of circumstances that have taken place since the Sochyi Olympics seemed to have breathed new vitality into a lifeless Soviet cadaver, this commentator intuits and fears the possible return to times we all could and should have done without.

The current saga being played out by Vladimir Putin, the former spy-master and head of the Soviet Secret Police, before declaring himself Executive In Chief of the on-again-off-again Russian Democracy, with its on-again-off-again Presidency-cum-Premiership, puts this ancient, moss-back memorialist in mind of some simple truths, it might be helpful or hurtful but important to bear in mind, never-the-less.

Recent announcements by regional theaters and theatrical companies, in New York’s Capital District and in nearby New England, reveal a spate of performances by Broadway road-shows and locally arranged productions of renowned theatrical works of the past.  Their goals, to make today’s younger audiences familiar with them, thus keep them historically alive.  The idea, although rooted in increased audiences and revenues, is an entirely worthy one.  So much so, it put this elderly commentator on the scent of an appropriate vehicle to familiarize young people with historic political events, worthy of remembrance, through retelling by ethical narrators.  Thus providing better informed citizens, should the same situations occur again, in the future.

There’s been much angst expressed by parents of America’s children and youth, of late, about the rapid erosion of funds and services, to provide education needed to prepare them for appropriate and gainfully competitive adulthood.  There’s also been a mounting volume of critical carping and castigation by those in government, responsible for providing the funds necessary to achieve adequate levels of education and warnings of dire consequence, from those invested with the onus to plan and produce educational services at superior levels of educational accomplishment, from the President and throughout his executive departments.

Back before the phenomenon called “Social Media” Ping-ponged anyone and everyone’s personal plaints as gospel, across a fact-hungry universe, H.G. Wells declared: “Lies are the mortar that bind the savage individual into the social masonry.”  He may have been right but what about truth?  What’s become of it in this mélange of personal prerogative presentations, unleashed and unlicensed?

For those of us with multi-generational and still functioning memories, except for techno-centric system difficulties, there’s little to be optimistic about with respect to the present state of governance at just about every level, in these apparently ‘disunited states of America’.  For this archaic member of the so-called “Greatest Generation,” time seems to have U-turned into reverse mode, by more than ninety years.  Although it had backed away from the League of Nations and World Court, The U.S. in 1921 (the year before this commentator was born) convened separate conferences on limiting naval tonnage and non-use of asphyxiating gasses; to which most nations agreed.  The U.S. avoided signing a commitment against the use of armed force, without congressional approval, which somehow seems not to have been given.

In a recent issue of the ‘American Poetry Review,’ a revered teacher of this commentator wrote of the proclivity of many notable poets for revising their work, after finding imperfections.  These, according to one anthropologist, were mischievously inserted by spirits of Nordic origin, to bedevil the poets into re-examinations.  In recent years, he claimed, there were fewer of these episodes, because poets had stopped believing in the spirits.  A dedicated poet, at heart, this commentator has found several verses among his own published works that might well benefit from such attention; not so much the result of folkloric mischief but changing times and ideas, that compel public attention.  This explains the following revision of several pertinent poems, now set in combined form and revised from (“SWASH” by Paul Elisha):   

In an ‘Armistice Day’ address, on November 11th, 1948, its last delivery under that aegis, when it was then re-titled: “Veterans Day,” to include U.S. Armed Forces participants in the Korean conflict, Army General Omar Bradley, reverently known to combatants as ‘The GI’s General, said:  “The world has achieved brilliance without conscience.  Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.”

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