Króliki (Rabbits)

dedicated to Tommy Robinson, who was recently sentenced to more time in prison

Króliki they called us (Polish having
no word for guinea pig)* and so we were:
scared, little white rabbits, huddling in fear,
dreading our inevitable turn; sure
that no guardian angel was coming
to save us from pain we could but endure.

Perhaps we had been naughty and teased an
awkward classmate; perhaps we did not share
our things or told the secrets of a friend.
Perhaps we had even (how did we dare!)
disobeyed our parents or God or both.
Or nothing. Innocent? They did not care.

We were but commodities, to be used
for whatever: science, profit, pleasure,
as disposable means to desired ends;
by a moral equivalence measure
sanctioned pseudo-scientifically,
we were pawned as political treasure.

Never again! they vowed. And we
believed. But instead of the brave
white knight, cowed white rabbits appear
and disappear, themselves to save
by their choice to let us suffer.
Just so craven cowards behave.

Yet it takes but one Red Cross Knight*
to venture down the rabbit hole
and challenge surreality;
for still the maimed can be made whole,
courage too can be contagious,
with hope for the immortal soul.

(June, 2018)

*Kroliki: During World War II, diabolical surgical experiments were conducted on 86 young healthy women inmates at Ravensbrück concentration camp; of this number 74 were Polish political prisoners in their twenties (one as young as 16). The girls were nicknamed “króliki” or “rabbits” because they were used as human laboratory animals. The experiments were designed to maim and cripple healthy human beings. Some died as a result, some were executed, and some survived. Cf. the book And I am Afraid of My Dreams by Wanda Półtawska; translated from the Polish by Mary Craig; Hodder & Stoughton, 1987

*Red Cross Knight: Protagonist of Book I of The Faerie Queene (1590), an epic poem by Edmund Spenser. The Red Cross Knight represents the virtue of holiness, as well as St. George and the Church. He is the chivalric champion and eventual husband of Una, who symbolizes truth and true religion. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Red-Cross-Knight

 

Denise Sobilo’s work has previously been published by the St. Austin Review; The Imaginative Conservative; Jesus the Imagination; and The Antioch Review.


Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.”

12 Responses

  1. Amy Foreman

    “Courage too can be contagious.” What a powerful line, Denise. I found this poem riveting and thought-provoking. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Denise Sobilo

      Thank you for your comment. I hope that through this minor literary contribution, I can inspire others to the courage one finds in the examples of many victims of man’s inhumanity to man–from the courage exhibited by the Króliki to that of the girls of the grooming gangs for whom Tommy Robinson advocates, as well as the courage of Tommy himself to speak out against the atrocity.

      Reply
  2. Joe Bloggs

    Tommy Robinson is neither a victim or a saviour. He holds racist, anti immigrant, opinions. He has been imprisoned for breaking the law by attempting to put details, and pictures, of accused in a trial into the public domain. ‘Fair cop gov’, According to any reasonable law abiding person.

    Reply
    • Mike Bryant

      Tommy Robinson IS a victim of people that will not respect free thought OR free speech. He holds opinions that you don’t like. Precious snowflakes must be protected from ideas.

      Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Joe Blow, You are an ass-less ass that can’t tell the difference between fair winds and noxious farts.

      Reply
      • James A. Tweedie

        Whether I agree with Mr. Bloggs or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is that he expressed an honest opinion in response to a well-written poem. His opinion is shared by a great many people including–insofar as Mr. Robinson’s extended sentence is concerned–the UK judicial system. It does nothing to enhance the reputation of this site to mock, ridicule, scorn, demean and dehumanize those whose opinions may differ from yours or mine. Is there no room in the SCP community for those whose social or political views diverge, even slightly, from those of the SCP majority–or, to be more precise, its loudest members? If the mission of the SCP is to promote the beauty and value of classical poetry then we undercut that mission when we drive prospective members and budding poets away simply because they may see the world differently than you or me. If SCP understands itself to be a politically conservative or right-wing conservative echo chamber then that should feature prominently on our masthead so as not to mislead unsuspecting outsiders into a den of lions. Whatever we might say about thehypertexts, at least Michael Burch is up front about where his site stands politically and socially. If SCP views itself as the counterweight or mirror image of that site then it should say so up front and stop pretending to claim that it is about classical poetry rather than politics.

  3. The Society

    Dear Mr. Tweedie,

    I highly respect your opinion and will do my best to respond.
    Whether I agree with Mr. Bloggs or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is that he expressed an honest opinion in response to a well-written poem.

    ***I’m not so sure about this. The poem is dedicated to Mr. Robinson and is not about Mr. Robinson, it’s about a very real situation in history in which people are labeled categorically and dehumanized. We can see in the Joe Bloggs comment that he is doing what other British authorities have done, which is label Mr. Robinson racist and anti-immigrant and use that as a justification for attacking him unjustly and now imprison him.

    His opinion is shared by a great many people including–insofar as Mr. Robinson’s extended sentence is concerned–the UK judicial system. It does nothing to enhance the reputation of this site to mock, ridicule, scorn, demean and dehumanize those whose opinions may differ from yours or mine. Is there no room in the SCP community for those whose social or political views diverge, even slightly, from those of the SCP majority–or, to be more precise, its loudest members?

    ***People will argue and will disagree and offend each other naturally in an open forum, which is why we have the policy clearly stated, albeit in fine print, on every single post: “Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title Remove Comment.”

    ***Ms. Sobilo may have any or all comments removed from this post.

    ***There are many great stories about immigrants, respecting a nation’s laws, and punishing those who break those laws we would certainly be willing to publish. Would we publish a well-written anti-Tommy Robinson poem? It is within the realm of possibility. We have run environmental poems and human rights poems often associated with the left.

    If the mission of the SCP is to promote the beauty and value of classical poetry then we undercut that mission when we drive prospective members and budding poets away simply because they may see the world differently than you or me. If SCP understands itself to be a politically conservative or right-wing conservative echo chamber then that should feature prominently on our masthead so as not to mislead unsuspecting outsiders into a den of lions. Whatever we might say about thehypertexts, at least Michael Burch is up front about where his site stands politically and socially. If SCP views itself as the counterweight or mirror image of that site then it should say so up front and stop pretending to claim that it is about classical poetry rather than politics.

    ***If those who read, enjoy, and contribute to the Society’s poetry happen to be more conservatively bent then there is little that the Society can do to change that, even if it wanted to. I am the website editor and the main Journal editor and any publication will naturally have its leanings. If these leanings go too far, I am open to criticism and will refer you to the disclaimer above. In terms of mainstream science and medicine and the past status quo of U.S.-China relations, the art world’s status quo, and the poetry world’s status quo, I could be characterized as very liberal. The majority of what the Society publishes has to do with beauty and is nonpolitical, although we do seem to have hit a relatively high quotient this week. I’ll take your comment as advice that this may not be a good way to proceed. When it comes to time sensitive pieces related to the news and politics, I try to get these out quickly, resulting in the current situation.

    -Evan Mantyk

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Evan, In your reply, as always, you represent the highest and the best of SCP.

      For me, at least, the key phrase in your response is “I highly respect your opinion.” I am, of course, glad of that, but I really don’t care whether you respect my opinion or not. My opinion (in your opinion) may, in fact, be worthy of contempt. What matters most is that by keeping your response both civil and articulately on point you are showing respect to me as a person, and that makes all the difference in the world. It also sets an example for the rest of us. The way I see it, to follow your example would be the best way for us to show our respect for you in return.

      I understand that you do not have control over what others post in the comments but it should be obvious that your recent policy to offer the option for comments to be removed was initiated in response to some of the very same concerns I have just raised. In no way should my comment be seen as a criticism of you or your outstanding and commendable efforts to create, maintain, and elevate this wonderful site for the advancement of Classical poetry. It is largely because of you (and, of course, the poetry) that I am still here at all. In that context it should be clear that the questions and concerns I raised were not aimed in your direction at all.

      In short, I do not think that my comment and your response are mutually exclusive, but are, in fact, saying more or less the same thing in two different ways. You and I want the same thing for this site and I share your vision and embrace it to the full. To realize and sustain that vision will be up to each of us as we contribute the highest and the best we have to offer, not only in our poetry, but in our comments and our conversations with one another as well.

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        I wish I had in my heart the impulse to appease the Enemy, but I don’t. Joe Bloggs gets to say what he has to say, and so do I. And that’s pretty much that. You will have noticed that his comments have nothing at all to do with prosody, and I answered in kind: Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders.

  4. Denise Sobilo

    Though as the author of the poem I have the right to remove any comments, which would be tantamount to a form of political censorship as the work in question intentionally has a political/current events edge, I choose not to do so.

    Poetry, being an imaginative contemplation of the human experience, will at times contain politically-charged sentiments, since man himself is a political animal. “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto”. I will apologize for nothing in my poetry except for bad poetry. Nor will I censor a truth-telling work.

    I believe Mr. Tweedie is aware that this poem and countless others expressing a conservative or religious worldview would not be considered for publication in the great majority of sites, journals, reviews, literary magazines, etc.; nor are poets such as myself who espouse this particular worldview welcome in academia or MFA programs. I find ironic then his questioning whether there is “room in the SCP community for those whose social or political views diverge, even slightly, from those of the SCP majority–or, to be more precise, its loudest members? If the mission of the SCP is to promote the beauty and value of classical poetry then we undercut that mission when we drive prospective members and budding poets away simply because they may see the world differently than you or me.”

    That being said, the direction this thread has taken has veered down the rabbit hole: Tommy Robinson is not the subject of the poem; the title at least should make that evident. Such push-button “triggering” caused by the mention of a controversial figure indicates an inability to see past a political ideology, to respond instead with preconceived accusations of racism and anti-immigration xenophobia. It disregards completely the plight of the victims: the Kroliki crippled in the Ravensbruck camp linked in their suffering with the young girls abused by the UK grooming gangs. This is a conversation that we must have, and which we, as poets and truthsayers, must initiate.

    Reply
  5. James A. Tweedie

    Denise,

    Please note that my comment (from which you quote at length) was not written in response to the composition of your poem (which was well-written), or to the content of your poem (which raised my awareness of the term, Kroliki, and put a painful spotlight on the particular horrors inflicted on them under German National Socialism). Nor was my comment in any way a response to the dedication of your poem to Tommy Robinson (a subject on which I was silent). Nor was my comment critical of the politically/socially/and sometimes religiously conservative views both held and vigorously articulated by what appears to be a majority of those who participate in this forum. Nor do I take issue with your observation that the SCP is one of the only venues (or arguably the only venue) either on-line or in print where poetry or poetry-related commentary reflecting conservative points of view is tolerated . . . and not only permitted, but encouraged and celebrated as well. The location of my comment shows that it was, in fact, written as a response to a comment whose author launched a rude, dismissive, contemptuous personal attack on someone who expressed an opinion regarding Tommy Robinson. Without taking sides or expressing an opinion favoring one point of view or another, I speculated on the negative impact such comments may be having on prospective SCP participants and suggested that if the site wants to set itself up as a no-go zone for those not holding conservative political/social/religious views then we should be up front and honest about it. My intent in raising this issue was, as I stated in my reply to Evan’s gracious response, “to encourage each of us . . . (to) . . . contribute the highest and the best we have to offer, not only in our poetry, but in our comments and in our conversations with one another as well.” As you said, Evan has given those of us who post the right to have particular comments removed if, for whatever reason, we find them to be offensive or otherwise unwelcome. If you find my comment to be offensive or unwelcome, then feel free to ask Evan to remove it.

    Reply
    • Denise Sobilo

      I will quote again from your post: “to encourage each of us . . . (to) . . . contribute the highest and the best we have to offer, not only in our poetry, but in our comments and in our conversations with one another as well.” I likewise hope that all contributors here aspire to this goal; so, no, I will not remove your comments which were valid concerns expressed intelligently. Further, I hope that when our diverse offerings reflect the good, the beautiful and the true, no matter the ideological underlayment, we can appreciate and respond accordingly.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.