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"Abbotabad": A Poem

Posted by Josh Rothman  May 3, 2011 04:46 PM

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As you may have heard, Osama bin Laden was killed on Sunday night in a daring commando raid on his compound in Abbottabad, a city about thirty miles from Islamabad, in Pakistan. Abbottabad, as Christopher Hitchens has pointed out, is named after Major General James Abbott, a British military officer who ruled over it as a player in the "Great Game" in the 1850s -- in fact, the entire district, Abbottabad Province, is named after him.


James Abbott was rocking that look way before Osama.

Upon his departure from Abbottabad, Abbott wrote a short poem about it, which is inscribed on a plaque in the city's Lady Garden Square. Here's the poem, "Abbottabad":

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 wind's 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

You can see the plaque itself in this Major-Abbott-themed photo tour of Abbottabad. It looks like a pretty nice place to hide from the largest manhunt in the history of the world.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

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Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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