We know what happened to ‘the end of history’
and ‘the peace dividend’ but what will we do now
that Osama sleeps with the fishes? Gladly, there
is no shortage of men, for they do tend to be
men, for the role of bogeyman. The myth of the
ruthless, devious, almost supernaturally
efficient enemy endures, for all wars make
money for some and wars of choice – Afghanistan,
Iraq – make even more for the same some, so war
with Iran is probably, definitely not ‘if’ but ‘when’.
How many of us dare to publicly expose
our leaders’ new clothes, reveal courageous death and
injury under fire as pointless, immoral,
unnecessary, avoidable, in this still
bellicose and jingoistic nation with its
tinsel patriotism of drums and flags muffling,
obscuring reason – its manipulation
of so much righteous anger and genuine grief!
According to legend, Hafiz of Shiraz, Fars,
Persia – the Sufi mystic and lyric poet,
an exact contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer,
and popular still with speakers of Farsi
in Afghanistan and Iran, who learn his work
by heart as proverbs, sayings – was summoned
by Timur Leng aka Tamburlaine, who ruled
an empire that stretched from the Black Sea to China
and south from Kazakhstan to the mud flats of Sindh,
whose conquests, it is estimated, caused the deaths
of seventeen million men, women and children.
‘How could you prefer the mole on your lover’s cheek
to Bokhara and Samarkand, cities of gold,
the very jewels in my crown?’ questioned Tamburlaine,
making reference to one of the master’s ghazals.
‘I am profligate,’ replied Hafiz, ‘so am poor.’
The tyrant paid the poet many gold dinars
for his diplomatic wit. So let there always
be war by any other means, by doing what
we do best. The last couplet of the lyric reads:
‘O Hafiz, you have made a poem, so recite it well!
Be rewarded with the pearls of the firmament.’
 The last two lines have been adapted from ‘TEACHINGS OF HAFIZ’ translated by Gertrude Lowthian Bell, 1897.