Introduction: Poem Analysis- Those Shoes


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Introduction: Poem Analysis- Those Shoes

  1. 1. ANIS ZULAIKHA BT BASRAHD2009103441311.0 IntroductionThis task is assigned to fulfill the requirement for the course Selected Poems in English,BIS 3063. Students are assigned to do the analysis of English poems by local writers of theanthology Poetry of Life: Ecstasies and Anxiety. The chosen poem for this report is ThoseShoes by A. Halim Ali. The analysis would be focusing on the theme and issues related to thepoem besides a brief explanation on “the shoes” as the symbolical figure in conveying themessage of the writer.2.0 ThemeAs the title implies, this is a poem which the writer has dedicated to Bush or preciselyGeorge Herbert Walker Bush, the 41stpresident of the United States of America. Hence, thetheme is about an apostrophe to the self-acknowledged heroic man whose power hasbrought destruction to the innocents. Based on historical event, this poem is related to the USA-Iraq war which has begun in 2003. The word “Basra” refers to Basra city, the second largest cityin Iraq which has been invaded by the USA, causing corruption and oil smuggling, as well aslong-term economic problems to take place.The poem is considered as an apostrophe to “you” which connotes the man who is beingcriticized for his “wasted war” “blurred truth” and “lame of soul”. The theme is associated withthe issues portrayed through every stanza of the poem which include the issues of war, powercorruption and transition, injustice and world’s reaction on the man’s action of hypocrisy. Thetone of this poem is rather cynical but full of hatred, anger and dissatisfaction. The theme isfurther analysed as the issues are explained in detail.3.0 IssuesIn the first stanza, the issue which is being portrayed touches the event of war in Iraqconnoted by the words “Basra” and “wasted war”. The war between Iraq and the USA begins asthe result of what has been claimed by some critics as irrelevant and unjustified in correlation tothe UN resolution which is later mentioned in the second stanza. It is a wasted one since thecost for the war which has extended to its fourth year by 2007 is bizarre besides the countlessnumber of lives it has claimed. Those years of war in Iraq are regarded as a shameful stay for
  2. 2. ANIS ZULAIKHA BT BASRAHD200910344132Bush since the situation is absolutely contradicting his mission of liberating the Iraqis from theirleader’s aggression and to bring peace to the land. That is why the writer conveys that even theAmerican people should know that Bush has never succeeded in his mission of conquering Iraqsince there is no sign of acceptance from the Iraqis as well as the recognition from worldwidenations.Moving on to the second stanza, another character emerges as the rival for Bush whichis the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein. Going back to historical fact, Saddam Hussein is viewedas a tyrant ruler whom Bush claims as developing weapon of mass destruction in Iraq.Saddam’s cruelty while ruling his nation has resulted him to be recognized by the world as oneof the greatest dictator, leading the country violently for about 24 years by 2003. The fact that“he has not yet finished washing his poisoned hands, sniff the stink of the sins and the woundsof the badly hurt Kurds” has signaled his downfall. In real situation, this is referring to theincident where he has been captured on December 2003 with a very haggard and disorientedcondition in his hiding place.The issue is about power corruption by Saddam Hussein that he is claimed to haveviolated the UN resolution. Later, his capture leaves behind his people, the Iraqis with massivedestruction which cause them to live in suffer. At this point, the word “Kurds” is used to denotethe people of Iraq and they are said to still have “a piece of pride” since the world has neverrecognized the propaganda of Bush as he tries to show to the world that he has succeeded asthe emancipator for the badly affected Iraqis. In this stanza also, the persona is being verysarcastic to provoke Bush to bring the matter to the United Nation Council so that it would be aremarkable achievement of his. However, the persona seems to foresee that the world wouldhave known about his camouflaged mission to conquer Iraq for its wealth which is oil. In otherwords, his “blurred truth” which is a clear oxymoron that connotes the world’s doubt on hispeace mission to liberate the Iraqis from Saddam’s aggression. Ironically, the truth should beapparent and not blurred or vague such as what has been quoted by Bush in a generalassembly of the UN:
  3. 3. ANIS ZULAIKHA BT BASRAHD200910344133"If Iraqs regime defies us again, the world must move deliberately,decisively to hold Iraq to account. We will work with the UN SecurityCouncil for the necessary resolutions. But the purposes of the UnitedStates should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will beenforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- oraction will be unavoidable."(Bush, 2002).By the third stanza, the issue has moved to the world’s reaction towards the proudBush for his hidden mission on conquering Iraq. He is described as the man with lame soul,unconvincing enough for people to recognize his unwanted intervene as a traveler or a strangerwho is then showing up to the world only to be condemned as a ruthless man in power. As thepoem ends, the “gorge of humiliation” which symbolizes the world’s firm protest towards hisaction on Iraq is regarded paradoxically as an honour for him to remember. An honour issupposed to be like a reward; recognition for a remarkable achievement but this one would bethe one that will make him live being hated by the people from all over the world regardless oftime.4.0 The Shoes as symbolical figureIn this poem, what could be inferred from the use of “shoes” is that it may reflectsomething about position, oppression as well as defense. For position, literally the shoes areworn as the bottom most attire and this would symbolize that position of the Kurds when theyare being oppressed and live in fear and suffer during the conflict between Saddam and Bush.Serving as a defense, shoes are literally meant to protect the feet and this fact implies thatshoes in the poem symbolize defense for the American as well as the Iraqi to keep on living andpursuing their missions.In another point of view, the shoes may symbolize memorable moments by consideringthat when the shoes step on the land, they would leave footprints. Those will bring back thememory of tragic experience being in such a depressed situation of war between two rivals.
  4. 4. ANIS ZULAIKHA BT BASRAHD200910344134That could also be the reason for the use of the phrase “heritage shoes of the American man’’since heritage means being passed from generation to another. It could somehow allude theepisodes of American troops of army keep coming to the land of the Iraqis as the conflict hasextended for years.Considering that the poem is written in 2007, by this time in history, Saddam Husseinhas been sentenced to death while the conflict in Iraq has never ended with more conflictswhich are basically caused by the determination to conquer Iraq totally for its oil. In fact, it hasbeen the deadliest year for American troops in Iraq where more than 800 of them were killed.Regardless of what the shoes may symbolize, by looking at the whole title, “Those Shoes (Apoem for Bush)”, it reminds me of the phenomenal incident where an Iraqi journalist, MuntatharAl-Zaidi threw his shoes at Bush as the president visited Iraq on December 14, 2008. Despitethe fact that this poem is written before this incident took place, it seems to reflect the samemessage that is the world’s arising and continuous protest on the administration of George W.Bush.ReferencesAbdul Halim Ali, Lajiman Janoory, & M.Sidik Ariffin (2011). Poetry of life: Ecstasies andanxieties. Selangor: Univision Press Sdn. Bhd.Daniel, T. (2009). Iraqi who threw shoes at Bush could get book thrown at him. Retrieved onDecember 7, 2011 from of Free Online Dictionary (2011). Definition. Retrieved on December 10, 2011 fromhttp://www.thefreedictionary.comEditor of Insight on Conflict (2011). Insight of conflict: Iraq. Retrieved on December 10, 2011from of (2008). Did Saddam Husseins violation of United Nationresolutions justify the invasion of Iraq?. Retrieved on December 9 2011 from of (2007). Chronology: A timeline of events in the current Iraqi conflict. Retrieveon December 9, 2011 from,Editor of Washington Post (1999). Who are the Kurds?. Retrieved on December 10, 2011 from of (2011). Presidents. Retrieved on December 10, 2011 from