On a number of occasions I've alluded to Afghanistan in TYWKIWDBI, usually with a sense of foreboding. [the best thing I ever blogged about the country was the noncombat video of the wasps as a wonderful allegory; that video deserves a repost if/when (when) things heat up in Afghanistan].
When I wrote about the Anglo-Afghan War and the massacre of the British army in 1842, Soubriquet was kind enough to post the full text of the Kipling poem that ends with these memorable lines:
If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,But for some probably illogical reason, the poem that comes to my mind when I think of Afghanistan is William Butler Yeats' The Second Coming:
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?