I first came across Christopher Logue when, in 1963, a friend played me Red Bird, an EP (an extended play 7 inch record – a format now known only to pensioners and vinyl geeks) of Logue reading some of his very free translations of Pablo Neruda love poems to the accompaniment of jazz from the Tony Kinsey Quintet. Being a rather pretentious youth, I was immediately hooked. But I still am, and it’s still really good.
I met him, just once or twice, five years later when he was on the Editorial Board of the Black Dwarf and I was the production editor. I can’t remember whether his poem Know Thy Enemy was written for Black Dwarf and then produced as one of his poetry posters or the other way round, but we did print it in the second or third edition of the paper. I only wish that I still had the poster – and my old copies of Black Dwarf for that matter.
Know Thy Enemy
Know thy enemy:
he does not care what colour you are
provided you work for him
and yet you do!
he does not care how much you earn
provided you earn more for him
and yet you do!
he does not care who lives in the room at the top
provided he owns the building
and yet you strive!
he will let you write against him
provided you do not act against him
and yet you write!
he sings the praises of humanity
but knows machines cost more than men.
Bargain with him, he laughs, and beats you at it;
challenge him, and he kills.
Sooner than loose the things he owns
he will destroy the world.
SMASH CAPITAL NOW!
But as you hasten to be free
And build your commonwealth
Do not forget the enemy
Who lies within yourself.