Thursday, April 21, 2011

Defensive Poetry

I was reading some kind of publishing industry research brief today and found the authors quoting Donald Rumsfeld - or what they called a "Rumsfeldian phrase" - that is, stating that they felt there were "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns." It was a bit startling to see that after less than a decade the great Rumsfeld has already been entered into the cannon of American poetry.

Yes, practically a decade has gone by since an American defense secretary became the most lauded accidental post-modern poet who ever lived, but it inspired me to think again of Rumsfeld's great poem, "The Unknown":

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.
—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

Those of you who would like to peruse more Defense Department post-modern poetry can do so here.


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Great post. Would love to quote this poem. Just awesome. Can't wait to check out the other. Thanks:)