Merry Stalinsmas!

4,000 carnations for Stalin’s birthday

MOSCOW – RUSSIAN Communists placed four thousand red carnations on Stalin’s grave beside Kremlin walls on Tuesday to celebrate what would have been the Soviet dictator’s 131st birthday.

Communist supporters raised 80,000 rubles (S$3,412) in a fundraising drive with the slogan ‘Two carnations for Comrade Stalin,’ organiser Igor Sergeyev told the Interfax news agency.

Carrying a red flag and led by Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, they piled the flowers beside a bust of Stalin that stands on his grave and round its neck.

Mr Zyuganov on Tuesday called for the ‘re-Stalinisation’ of Russian society in an open letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who has frankly criticised the rights abuses of the Soviet era.

The leader warned against a draft law, proposed by the presidential council for the development of civil society and human rights, which would ban the glorification of Stalinism.

‘Mr Putin and Mr Medvedev’s stability is based on what Stalin and the Soviet authorities created. They have not created anything themselves in 10 years,’ Mr Zyuganov said at a news conference on Tuesday. — AFP

http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/World/Story/STIStory_616170.html

Eliot’s Alienation

A modernist exercise in capitalist angst, T.S. Eliot’s famous masterpiece “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” at once exposes the crumbling of bourgeois society and the utter disintegration of its culture as a meaningful epoch. Considered by many to be the first modernist poem, its verses certainly carve out a splendid picture of the isolation and contempt for the status quo that marks modernist and postmodernist literature. More than that, it illustrates the emptiness and superficiality of class society through the middle-class male persona of the narrator, who is kept nameless but is presumably Eliot himself speaking through a fictional character.

The sense of being lost begins with the quotation at the beginning of the poem. Translated, it reads: “If I thought my answer were to one who could ever return to the world, this flame would move no more; but since no one has ever returned alive from this depth, if what I hear be true, without fear of infamy I answer you.” The quote, which comes from Dante’s Divine Comedy, is originally spoken by a lost soul in hell. This gives quite a first impression of the emotions to come from the main body of the poem.

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John Webster’s “A Dirge”

John Webster’s’ “A Dirge” is a delightfully gloomy poem contrasting the power and the all-encompassing inevitability of death with the beauty and balance of life. It seems to ponder on this deep subject, using images of nature to communicate its message. Webster makes his purpose immediately clear by the title-a “dirge” itself is a dismal funeral song. The verses clearly speak of death and the eternal nothingness that may reside afterwards-never in the poem does Webster mention anything about the eternal soul or afterlife. Clearly he is not concerned with life or metaphysics, but with death and the natural world.

Indeed, animals and nature are a reoccurring theme throughout the concise poem. “Call for the robin-redbreast,” it begins, “since o’er shady groves they hover, and with leaves and flowers do cover, the friendless bodies of unburied men.” His description of trees, birds and animals is undeniably beautiful even as his account of the bodies of forgotten men being covered in leaves is emotionally draining to the reader. Webster addresses wrens and robins, two kinds of small birds which fed on insects-perhaps those same insects currently feeding on the corpse’s flesh? At once, he speaks to loneliness and beauty, death and life in one package.

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