Saturday, 20 February 2010


Painting William Adolphe Bouguereau

This poem, submitted to the commentary thread of the previous posting by "Victor", is of such high quality that I decided to give it a posting all its own.

My subject, ‘inhumanity’
Is, alas, as old as time
Our heritage is heinous
Awash in blood and crime
And who can tell who was the worse
Your ancestors or mine?

The lash flailed Roman galley slaves
And, similarly did scourge
The builders of Persepolis
And of Chaldean Ur,
Forced labour on the Yangzi Jiang
And on the Ganges Plain,
The remnants of the Aztecs
in the dawning of New Spain.

Millennia of feudal bonds,
With serfs tied to the land,
Whilst legally-entrenched parasites
Stole bread from calloused hands.
And when the worst seemed over,
With liberation gained,
Iosif Vissarionovich
Invented it all again.

John Bull waxed rich on slavery
In places far remote.
He prated about Liberty
And struck a righteous note.
But the ghosts of the Middle Passage
Silently ask why
You, our brother human,
Took so long to hear our cry.

A nation rich in learning
And reverent of the Law
Bowed cravenly to murderers
And tried hard to ignore
Neighbours transported eastwards,
To Auschwitz or Mjadenek,
To a choking death from Zyklon B
Or a bullet in the neck.

And do not think the East will rise
Without more blood and crime.
For things are yet, as they have been
Since the very dawn of time.
Nor can we know who will be worse,
Your progeny or mine.

February 2010.

1 comment:

Olwyn said...

Beautifully expressed Victor.