updated 9/22/2003 7:01:37 AM ET 2003-09-22T11:01:37

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is a poet, as many Slate readers know. He is also something of a philosopher, and sometimes he combines his two intellectual hobbies. Here is a selection of recent Rumsfeld verse about the fundamental human question: What is life?

InsertArt(2021101)THESE POEMS are the exact words of the defense secretary, taken from the official transcripts on the Defense Department’s Web site.


You may think it’s something

I ought to know,

But I happen not to.

That’s life.

(July 9, 2003)

On Reporters

If you do something,

Somebody’s not going

To agree with it.

That’s life.

(Feb. 19, 2003)

On the Budget

If you do anything,

Someone’s not going

To like it and

That’s life.

(May 7, 2002)

On Leaks

Look bumpy? Sure.

But you pick up

And go on.

That’s life.

(May 17, 2002)

On Democracy

People elected

Those people to office.

That’s what they think, and

That’s life.

(Feb. 20, 2003)

On People

They’re going to have

Some impact on

What happens in that country

And that’s not wrong.

That’s life.

(Nov. 16, 2001)

On Criticism

It makes it complicated.

Sometimes, it makes

It difficult.

That’s life.

(Sept. 11, 2003)

Hart Seely writes for the Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper. He is co-author of “2007-Eleven and Other American Comedies.”

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