Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Note on Iago

People want reasons,
this means that or
this caused that. Let’s get
this under control, name it,
take charge, wrestle this
to the ground. Yet evil
keeps getting up again.

It runs like a horrible scar
cutting through gentle things,
recurring suddenly, age after age
perhaps with morning coffee,
planes crashing, people screaming,
millions watching The City,
her great light on my
childhood horizon, the beacon,
my lady liberty - watching,
agony, not here, not now.

Iago, Shakespeare's arch-villain,
stomps across the ages,
cursing life, deceiving,
robbing, killing.
Run from him here,
he meets you there.
Yes, it is a practical matter
to try to jail him,
to fight Hitler,
to hang Mussolini,
to catch Milosevic,
to oust the next one
and the next one
and the next one.
We do what we can.


  1. This is an older poem - not so very dated, I think. I brought it back because of a Shakespeare challenge. Shakespeare didn't spend much time on the analysis of evil - it's just always out there...like meteors or tsunamis

  2. Lorna, this is a very interesting meditation on good and evil. While I don't believe in capital punishment (McVeigh died thinking he was a martyr, thus denying him the righteous punishment of fading into the obscurity he so richly deserved, not to mention the abuse), I get what you mean. Some call it the devil, but I think it's a spark alive in ALL of us. Some people simply blow on the spark and turn it into their own wildfire... to make a name, to claim power... and ultimately, to cause so much suffering.

    Sorry for longwinded reply, but you really got me thinking. And that means you wrote a GREAT poem. Thanks. Amy

    1. Oh Amy, thanks for the wonderful comment. I am really interested in this. And I do agree with you that we all have the potential to do terrible things - thank heaven most of us get a grip.

  3. I read this earlier today, and went back to see it under your name as a comment, but it must have been misplaced. I still adore it! Your connections are sot on! I think Othello is Shakespeare's analysis of pure evil--all of his other villains have motives, but Iago just does evil because he can and he enjoys the results. I love that you wrote
    "It runs like a horrible scar
    cutting through gentle things,
    recurring suddenly, age after age
    perhaps with morning coffee . . . "

    "We do what we can" over and over again as we must because it will rise again. Each generation needs to have models of resistance! Bravo for this poem.

  4. We do what we can.. through the ages, art depicts the, politicians discuss them, poets try to come to terms with them, but wrong-doers will always be among us.

  5. Powerful and poignant ending and this,

    "like a horrible scar
    cutting through gentle things,"

    So horribly true.

    Very well written.

  6. We do what we can ~ There are many of them but we should also remember the goodness in all of us ~

  7. You may have written this some time ago, but it is .. and always will be relevant.

  8. I think of the two Boston terrorists... evil abounds and we try our best. And like Heaven said, goodness also comes out, full force.

  9. We do what we can - and thus because of it life goes on What a wonderful write!

  10. Woohoo! Someone took up Iago. He is my favorite Bard's villain. And as noted above, a perfect inescapable question at the poem's end. Very nice post in honor of Shakespeare.


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