Fundamentalism

By Naomi Shihab Nye b. 1952
Because the eye has a short shadow or
it is hard to see over heads in the crowd?

If everyone else seems smarter   
but you need your own secret?

If mystery was never your friend?

If one way could satisfy
the infinite heart of the heavens?

If you liked the king on his golden throne
more than the villagers carrying baskets of lemons?

If you wanted to be sure
his guards would admit you to the party?

            The boy with the broken pencil   
            scrapes his little knife against the lead   
            turning and turning it as a point   
            emerges from the wood again

            If he would believe his life is like that   
            he would not follow his father into war

Naomi Shihab Nye, “Fundamentalism” from Fuel. Copyright © 1998 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Used by the permission of BOA Editions Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

Source: Fuel (BOA Editions Ltd., 1998)

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Poet Naomi Shihab Nye b. 1952

Subjects History & Politics, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Naomi Shihab Nye

Biography

Naomi Shihab Nye was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1952. Her father was a Palestinian refugee and her mother an American of German and Swiss descent, and Nye spent her adolescence in both Jerusalem and San Antonio, Texas. Her experience of both cultural difference and different cultures has influenced much of her work. Known for poetry that lends a fresh perspective to ordinary events, people, and objects, Nye has said that, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT History & Politics, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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