May 09 2011

Abbottabad …. a poem of mass destruction


According to the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, “Vogons, though not actually evil, are throughly vile. Officious, bad-tempered, callous, rude, unpleasant.”

“Vogon poetry is of course the third worst in the Universe.”

“The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria. During a recitation by their Poet Master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem “Ode To A Small Lump of Green Putty I Found In My Armpit One Midsummer Morning” four of his audience died of internal haemorrhaging, and the President of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his own legs off.”

And the worst poet ever (as judged by the Guardian Newspaper) was General Sir James Abbott (1807-1896)


Abbott dressed as an Indian prince.

Abbott, poet and British Army Officer, served as an administrator of northern Pakistan under the British Raj. In 1853 he founded a new capital for the region and generously gave it his own name –  Abbottabad. 

According to The Lonely Planet, (surely the modern day Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Abbottabad is located in the cool, pine clad forests a few hours north of the capital Islamabad, and has a population of 900,000. 899.996. The city is now more of a pit stop for travellers along the famous Karokoram Highway (‘The High Road to China’) rather than a destination in itself. “Most come to get some money, some chicken chapati or Hazara embroidery at the local bazar”.

Back in 1853, General Abbott was so sad at having to leave his beautiful city and return to England that he penned the epic poem ‘Abbottabad’ – which earned his place in poetry history next to the Vogons. It may be the only poem in the world where ‘heart’ rhymes with ‘thwart’. It is available on Wikipedia and we also reproduce it below – read at your own risk.

Abbotabad, by James Abbot (1853)

I remember the day when I first came here
And smelt the sweet Abbottabad air

The trees and ground covered with snow
Gave us indeed a brilliant show

To me the place seemed like a dream
And far ran a lonesome stream

The wind hissed as if welcoming us
The pine swayed creating a lot of fuss

And the tiny cuckoo sang it away
A song very melodious and gay

I adored the place from the first sight
And was happy that my coming here was right

And eight good years here passed very soon
And we leave you perhaps on a sunny noon

Oh Abbottabad we are leaving you now
To your natural beauty do I bow

Perhaps your winds sound will never reach my ear
My gift for you is a few sad tears

I bid you farewell with a heavy heart
Never from my mind will your memories thwart


The afore mentioned Vogons were fond of reciting poetry to their prisoners. After a few minutes, even the most hardened crim would divulge any secrets or confess to any crime –  “just stop!”.

I wonder if this was part of Osama’s masterplan when he chose Abbottabad as his headquarters. Was he planning a poem of mass destruction?





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