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Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Words on Wednesday: Prescient Poets

Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion,
Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave and eats a bread it does not harvest.

Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,
and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream,
yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice
save when it walks in a funeral,
boasts not except among its ruins,
and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,
whose philosopher is a juggler,
and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,
and farewells him with hooting,
only to welcome another with trumpeting again.

Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years
and whose strongmen are yet in the cradle.

Pity the nation divided into fragments,
each fragment deeming itself a nation.

Kahlil Gibran, The Garden of the Prophet


Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.

Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.

Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.

Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.

Pity the nation - oh, pity the peope who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.

My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, after Kahlil Gibran


Jane Frere



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