Mark Hertsgaard raves about the “poem” with which Al Gore concludes the first chapter of his new book Our Choice. He characterizes the poem as “21 lines of verse that are equal parts beautiful, evocative, and disturbing.” Doesn’t verse require rhyme or meter?
Hertsgaard finds the poem to be “a surprisingly accomplished, nuanced piece of writing.” I think that might be the case if you’re grading on a curve. Hertsgaard doesn’t bother to elaborate on or argue for the poem’s excellence. He simply declares it.
And like an overeager undergraduate, Hertsgaard is excited to discover that the poem may be relevant to today’s news. Hertsgaard applies the poem’s final lines “to the governments that will gather in Copenhagen from December 7 to 18 for what is regarded as humanity’s last chance to avert absolutely catastrophic climate change.” He quotes the vatic Gore:
The shepherd cries
The hour of choosing has arrived
Here are your tools
Hertsgaard fancies that Gore himself may be the shepherd. He’s certainly crying, all the way to the bank. I wonder, however, if there might not have been an error on transcription in “tools.” Shouldn’t that “t” be an “f”?