- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 23, 2002

Nobles: Ruth Lilly, for her prodigious, poetic present to the world of words.

Poetry is one of the few fields of endeavor in which only the professionals beg for bread the amateurs are forced to find full-time employment in places that provide much more dough. Mrs. Lilly wasn't quite good enough to become a starving poet, but, as heiress to the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical fortune (worth an estimated $1.2 billion), she had the pecuniary side down pat.

So, while the pieces she submitted to the prestigious journal Poetry were never published, she made it a point to help her more talented but far less well-endowed colleagues wherever she could. She donated staggering sums to the Modern Poetry Association and set up several poetry prizes.

However, her gift of at least $100 million in stock to Poetry Magazine left even professional poets speechless. While the journal is considered to be America's pre-eminent publication poets it has published include Carl Sandburg and T.S. Elliot it's also (surprise) poor. It has a paid circulation of about 10,000 and pays contributors just $2 per line.

It will certainly be able to do slightly better than that now. However, the gift probably might not faze Poetry's editor, Joseph Parisi. Ever since he's been with the magazine, Mr. Parisi has made it a point to send out kind-hearted notes to as many of the magazine's rejected poets as possible not easy work, considering that his magazine publishes only a few hundred of the tens of thousands of submissions it receives each year. He had no idea who Mrs. Lilly was, although she had received several of his hand-written rejection letters.

It's not often that a kind-hearted editor and a philanthropist get together. But when they do, the result is pure poetry.

Knaves: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, for his firm resolution to see no evil in Iraq.

Mr. Annan seems determined to pursue a "what is 'is'" game of semantics in defining Iraqi violations of the recently passed U.N. Security Council resolution. Speaking to reporters this week about Iraqi shooting at U.S. and British airplanes attempting to enforce the no-fly zones, the secretary-general said, "Let me say that I don't think the council will say this is in contravention of the resolution that was recently passed."

Now, it is true that "attempting to kill allied pilots" is not spelled out as a specific violation of U.N. Resolution 1441. But nor, specifically, is possession of the ebola virus, (that's "E-B-O-L-A" Mr. Secretary-General) or any other biological or chemical weapon of mass destruction. Yet, it's pretty clear what the intent of the document is.

In fact, there's been little doubt of the intent of the numerous resolutions that Resolution 1441 found Iraq to have already breached. Moreover, it should be remembered that those allied pilots being shot at are actually attempting to enforce other U.N. resolutions demanding that Saddam not harass shoot or gas the Kurds in Northern Iraq or the Shi'ites in the south.

Beyond its prima facie silliness, Mr. Annan's blindness also augurs ill for weapons inspections one wonders what will happen if one of Hans Blix's inspectors find a biological item somehow missing from the list. ("It's genetically modified plague is that on the list?"). Mr. Annan may decide that such a finding does not constitute a breach of the resolution either (although it's easy to imagine the Europeans rushing to launch on Baghdad if Saddam is found to be in possession of genetically modified foods).

The bottom line is that, when it comes to weapons of mass destruction, security is gained when word games are disregarded. It's something that shouldn't have to be spelled out to a certain U.N. secretary-general ("K-O-F-I A-N-N-A-N").

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