Friday 22 December 2006


More wood, more fire,
More orgies!
My power shall not stand
Diminished in any way.
The jewels in my crown,
Those trophies of battle,
That glory of being
The Master of his men.
The vile slavery of my serfs
— shall I let go of it?
More orgies, more food,
More laurels to my power!

Shall a mere tree come in my way?
What shall I make my men do?
Eat roots when they can have pheasant stew?
That last tree shall give me wood,
And they – those serving men –
They shall chop it, and burn it.
The cooking-men will stir the pots;
The hunting-men shall find for me -
Pheasants, and deer and turtles;
The growing men shall bring me
Wheat, and rice and cotton;
The weaver-men, and the barber-men
And the potter-men and other men,
They shall all ply their trades.

And I:
I keep the peace among them,
I throw them my table-scraps,
And they shall be fed
And be happy.
They shall not murmur
And swear oaths and secrets
Or in any manner rise against me.

No more wood be there to burn?
What matter?
We shall burn coal.

No more coal?
O there is some left for a year?
Good. Burn it, then.
Does not matter.
I shall be dead soon.
I’m old, and I have seen my times.
And they were good.
Let it be, for my men are happy.
Let them not stir.
Once I’m dead what do I care?
My son will face times
Of hardship and sorrow?
O! but let him face it,
I can only live my life.

This poem is for Saparmurat Niyazov, a man who ruled Turkmenistan for 21 years with the self-styled name of Turkmenbashi (Father of the Turkmen). He lived a luxurious life and encouraged a personality cult, replacing January with his name. Turkmens read what he wrote, lived and died as he liked them to and generally had no money. He died suddenly yesterday.


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