Blair opts for war, Brown for sociology as leaders choose top poems
WITH the spectre of Iraq looming over his decade-long premiership you would be forgiven for thinking that Tony Blair would be keen to avoid any further associations with war.
But the former prime minister has offered a military verse as his favourite poem of all time.
Blair has named Rupert Brooke's The Solider, which features the famous lines: "If I should die, think only this of me: / That there's some corner of a foreign field / That is for ever England".
Blair joined other prominent politicians from around the globe in selecting their favourite poem, to be published in a new collection.
The selection by his Downing Street successor Gordon Brown also proved to be controversial.
The Prime Minister opted for the downright obscure James Stockinger's The Hands Of Others.
Stockinger is an American sociology lecturer and the lines that Brown chose did not start life as a poem, but came from his doctoral thesis.
To spare Brown's blushes the organisers of the collection asked Stockinger to turn a section of his thesis into verse.
As is fitting with his subtle and understated style of leadership, outgoing Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley has chosen I Must Go On by Pastor James Kyle Paisley, while Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams went for The Lake Isle of Innisfree by WB Yeats.
Ousted conservative Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar opted for If by Rudyard Kipling, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder nominated The Panther by Rainer Maria Rilke while the former Israeli leader Ariel Sharon, who made his choice before falling into a coma, opted for We Are Both From The Same Village by Naomi Shemer.
US President George Bush – who is not known as a great lover of literature – was among a number of leaders who declined to contribute.
The book was the brainchild of Mehmet Basci, a Turkish Kurd peace activist, who wrote to dozens of statesmen and woman urging them to share their favourite piece of poetry.
Basci said: "Poetry is a mirror to the soul and I hope that this book might allow us to reflect on our leaders and our lands, but more importantly, on the things that unite us: our common hopes, fears and pleasures."
World Leaders' Favourite Poems will be published by Parthian later this month.
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