Stockholm Syndrome [1]


Extracts from a poem by Sep Meyer


They came one hour before the dawn,

Each to himself complete;

Fanatic’s face and stealthy pace

On canvas roughshod feet,

And each one knew what each must do,

His destiny to meet.


And some wore masks upon their heads

And on some heads were none;

And some held blades, and some grenades,

And in some hands a gun;

But, common to each one, upon

Their lips an orison.


It was not fear induced their prayer

(They were no so devout),

It was but pious callousness

That brought their prayer about;

The arrant beat of their conceit

Permitted of no doubt.


That they should seize, with perfect ease,

This symbol of the might

Of that great power in one short hour

Without the need to fight,

Naively and sufficient was

To fill them with delight.


But no one had considered that

There was a need to guard

The sanctuary of the house;

Tradition had assured

It would remain inviolate,

Thus were they ill-prepared.


And even less could they then guess

Their capture by default

In that bleak hour before the dawn

To dreams would call a halt,

Uncertain whether fear or smiles

Should greet this weird assault.




Their cruelty from weakness sprang.

(They thought themselves humane:

Considerate to animals

And sparing children pain.)

But each one knew what each must do

Ere he saw home again.



“Justice for each is what we preach

Though it may terror breed;

That we may own what we have sown:

The produce of our seed.”

(The prejudice of ignorance

May yet fulfil their need.)


What irony their actions bear

As to achieve, they sought

Their violent needs with violent deeds,

And claimed for freedom fought,

Who were themselves to violence slaves.

How dear is freedom bought?



“If it were in our power alone,

You know we’d set you free,

But we must on that greater power

Bestow our loyalty.

Our faith demands the principle

Of reciprocity.


“And you must know our charity

Is running out of time,

And all we ask – a simple task –

That you admit your crime

Against our great and noble State.

Confession is sublime.



“The words we use indeed abuse,

But we have no regrets;

Corruption is the rotting fruit

That decadence  begets,

And those who yet will of it eat

Deserve these epithets.”



                             . . . 

Death did not distinguish

One from the other side;

When each one knew what each must do

And each one did . . . and died.


The poem was begun at the time of the hostage situation in Tehran.  It was based very loosely on the events that lasted from 1979 to 1981 - a total of 444 days.  It was subsequently completed as a fictional combination of the actual Tehran events and the bonding experience of the Stockholm bank robbery that had occurred almost a decade earlier.  The above extracts form about one-third of the total poem.