On this day in 2007 American author and artist Kurt Vonnegut Jr died aged 84.
Vonnegut smoked untipped cigarettes most of his adult life, sardonically calling the habit: ‘a classy way to commit suicide’. In fact he died after falling down the stairs at home.
Captured by the Germans during World War II, he witnessed the bombing of Dresden and its aftermath which turned him into a lifelong pacifist and humanist. Vonnegut’s writing is a mixture of autobiography, humour, satire and science fiction and the New York Times called him “the counterculture’s novelist.” His novels ‘Cat’s Cradle’ and ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ are regarded as som
e of the best works by an American writer in the twentieth century.
He was a great admirer of Mark Twain whose ironic poems he must have enjoyed. Here is one:
“O Lord, our father,
Our young patriots, idols of our hearts,
Go forth to battle – be Thou near them!
With them, in spirit, we also go forth
From the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.
O Lord, our God,
Help us to tear their soldiers
To bloody shreds with our shells;
Help us to lay waste their humble homes
With a hurricane of fire;
..We ask it in the spirit of love –
Of Him who is the source of love,
And who is the ever-faithful
Refuge and Friend of all that are sore beset and seek
His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen
Today I will work towards the goal of peace in the world.