The HyperTexts

The Best Protest Poems of All Time
Occupy Wall Street
The Arab Spring
and other protests poems opposing the Trail of Tears, American Slavery, the Holocaust and the Nakba


compiled by Michael R. Burch, an editor and publisher of Holocaust and Nakba poetry

There have been many occupations, which have resulted in many protest poems and songs, over the course of human history. Here is my personal list of the top ten protest poems of all time, which is admittedly subjective:

"The Lie" by Sir Walter Raleigh
"London" and "Jerusalem" by William Blake
"Harlem (What Happens to a Dream Deferred?)" by Langston Hughes
"I Have a Dream" by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan and "Imagine" by John Lennon
"A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke
"Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen
"The Battle Hymn of the Republic" by Julia Ward Howe and "We Shall Overcome" by various authors over time
"Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman
"The Declaration of Independence" by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin

High Honorable Mention: The Hebrew prophets, "The Gettysburg Address" by Abraham Lincoln, "Easter Hymn" by A. E. Housman, "His Confession" by the Archpoet, "i sing of Olaf glad and big" by e. e. cummings, "Beds Are Burning" by Midnight Oil, "I Am Woman" by Helen Reddy, "Independence Day" by Martina McBride, "Wulf and Eadwacer," "Postcards" by Miklós Radnóti, "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" by Oscar Wilde (who was sentenced to hard labor for the "crime" of being gay), and the protest poems of the great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish

While some of my choices may seem eclectic, I believe they all make sense. Sir Walter Raleigh's "The Lie" is one of first noteworthy poems to rebuke and mock what we now call "the establishment." William Blake was an English reformer cut in the poetic mold of the Hebrew prophets. Langston Hughes spoke eloquently for African Americans at the time they began to assert their right to equality. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech is as much a poem as it is a sermon. Bob Dylan and John Lennon were fans of William Blake and like Blake were not afraid to sock it to the establishment. Sam Cooke wrote "A Change is Gonna Come" after hearing Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind." Wilfred Owen was, in my opinion, the greatest of the anti-war poets. Julia Ward Howe's lyrics were sung by many a Union soldier fighting to end slavery during the Civil War. "Leaves of Grass" was Walt Whitman's eloquent call for a freer, more tolerant America. Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were accomplished poets who wrote the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence in ringing iambic pentameter: "We HOLD these TRUTHS ..." and it is a poem that continues to change the world. Abraham Lincoln was another accomplished poet who wrote his own speeches, including "The Gettysburg Address."

As I said in my intro, there have been many occupations and all too often the stories of the victims and the sins of the oppressors have been known, but no one acted in time to save the former from the latter.

My tale was heard and yet it was not told ...
—Chidiock Tichborne

The English poet Chidiock Tichborne wrote the line above in the Tower of London in 1586, shortly before being eviscerated, hung, drawn and quartered in a spectacle designed to intimidate the English masses into not questioning or opposing a feudal monarchy. Throughout the subsequent centuries, many people in many nations have been beaten, tortured and killed in spectacular ways, in order to teach commoners an important lesson: "We, the One Percent, are ready to do virtually anything imaginable in order to keep you, the lowly ninety-nine percent, in line."

Here's a poem by another English poet—one of the very best—who wrote in the Tower of London, shortly before being executed via a ghastly beheading:

Go, soul, the body's guest,
     Upon a thankless errand;
Fear not to touch the best;
     The truth shall be thy warrant:
           Go, since I needs must die,
           And give the world the lie.

Say to the court it glows
     And shines like rotten wood,
Say to the church it shows
     What's good, and doth no good:
           If church and court reply,
           Then give them both the lie ...
—Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded in the Old Palace Yard at the Palace of Westminster in 1618. Many years before, in 1592, he had been sentenced to the Tower of London for the "crime" of having married without the queen's permission! His original death sentence was especially gruesome: "... [you are] to be hanged and cut down alive, and your body shall be opened, your heart and bowels plucked out, and your privy members cut off, and thrown into the fire before your eyes; then your head to be stricken off from your body, and your body shall be divided into four quarters, to be disposed of at the king's pleasure." His poem "The Lie" is one of the greatest protest poems in the English language, or any language. Today it is hard to imagine a poet being treated so brutally, and yet Palestinian poets are still sometimes tortured by Israeli military and Mossad agents ...

Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring are two of the more recent protest movements; they mirror the concerns of people of earlier times who were pushed to the brink by leaders who refused to accommodate their desire for fairer treatment of the non-privileged classes. I will present protest poems in a roughly chronological order, thus charting the genesis and evolution of an important art form. I will also include some of the earliest anti-racism/anti-slavery art, by one of the earth's greatest anti-establishment rebels, the mystical English poet/artist William Blake.

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?
—William Blake

William Blake was writing about the occupation of England by what U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower would later call the "military-industrial complex." The poems on this page will include protests against war, tyrants, racism, sexism, intolerance, colonialism, the Trail of Tears, American slavery, the Holocaust and the Nakba (Arabic for "Catastrophe"). These poems all share a common theme: human despair at (and rebellion against) social and economic inequalities and injustices. From the Hebrew prophets and the ancient Greek poets, to Jesus and the early Christians, to the American Founding Fathers and the great Romantics, to abolitionists and civil rights activists like Sojourner Truth and Martin Luther King Jr., to Jewish poets of the Holocaust and modern-day Palestinian poets of the Nakba, there is a constant refrain: "We too are part of the greater 99%, and refuse to be abused by the hubristic1% who treat us like serfs, slaves, beasts of burden, or cogs in their moneymaking machines!"

Whatsoever ye do unto the least of these, my brethren, ye do it unto me.
—Jesus Christ

I find it ironic that leading Republicans who profess to "believe the Bible" completely ignore the main message of Jesus, the apostles and the Hebrew prophets, who all said repeatedly that true religion is to practice chesed [mercy, compassion and social justice] and social justice. Jesus told his disciples that if they had two coats, they should give one to someone in need. Unlike hypocritical American politicians who constantly favor their super-rich patrons over the poor, Jesus followed his own advice, dying with only the clothes on his back, according to the Bible. But Republicans advocate spending trillions of dollars on wars of global domination (which they euphemize as "national defense") while calling Social Security and Medicare "entitlements" even though Americans pay into these funds their entire working careers. As a result, many Americans feel alienated, because they hate war, long for peace, and want equality and social justice, not favoritism for billionaires. Many of us who are not black can empathize today with the "Bard of Harlem" when he wrote:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
—Langston Hughes

The America we imagine is a future prospect, not a current reality. Has there ever been an America where working stiffs were "equal" with the super-rich 1%? How many ordinary Americans would have voted to send their children off to fight and die in Iraq, as Republicans did? (Barack Obama and the majority of House Democrats voted against the invasion of Iraq.) Don't the oil fields of Iraq belong to the people of Iraq? Wouldn't it make much more sense to pay the going price for oil and save our children's lives, health and mental wellbeing? And if we put on our thinking caps, it's easy to see that our wars in the Middle East haven't saved us a penny, since the price of oil soared and stayed sky-high. I think it's safe to say that wars over natural resources never benefit the middle- and lower-income classes, and ultimately don't benefit the rich either. After all, how many military empires have been able to hold onto their overseas conquests, since the fall of the Roman Empire? And yet it seems American politicians would rather waste multitudes of lives and trillions of dollars, rather than admit that wars of occupation in the Middle East are bloody, expensive follies. They seem to have taken their marching orders from another fascist who chose to invade the Middle East:

In politics never retreat, never retract, never admit a mistake.
—Napoleon Bonaparte

Americans who believe in "American exceptionalism" should ask themselves why and how "the greatest nation on earth" managed to produce three Holocausts in less than 200 years: (1) the Trail of Tears and the decimation of the lives of millions of Native Americans, most of them completely innocent women and children; (2) American slavery and the decimation of the lives of millions of African Americans, most of them completely innocent women and children; and (3) the Nakba, which continues to this day and has caused the decimation of the lives of millions of Palestinians, most of them completely innocent women and children. The Trail of Tears led to massacre after massacre on both sides, while a white supremacist government and white supremacist presses accused their victims of being "heathens" and "savages" without ever bothering to look in the mirror. American slavery led from one terrible act of violence to another, most of them inflicted on slaves and runaways, while a white supremacist government and white supremacist presses accused blacks of being inferior to their "masters" without ever bothering to look in the mirror. The Nakba led directly to 9-11 and two terrible wars, as for a third time a white supremacist government and white supremacist presses accused the victims of every sin known to man without ever bothering to look in the mirror. Why are the crimes of people with dark skin "terrorism," while the much wider-scale crimes of people with lighter skin are either ignored or rationalized away? What sort of "democracy" repeatedly attacks and wipes out completely innocent women and children in the rush to grab land, natural resources and global power?

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?
—Mohandas Gandhi

Why is it that Washington and Jefferson, who lived in mansions and had freedom to travel, have been praised for ending a feudal monarchy's occupation of the nation we now call the United States, while Palestinians who don't live in mansions and don't have freedom to travel are expected to live submissively under a brutal military occupation by Israel—an occupation funded and supported by the U.S. to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars in advanced weapons and cash?

The oppressed can but pursue suitable tracks
Learning to heed the lessons of awesome war
But will the mighty listen to reason’s voice
That justice will accomplish the peace of Rome?
Or will conscience’s dictates be inexorably ignored
As war’s clouds hover over culture’s great cradle?
And yet we do not harbor the odium of hatred
But pray that peace can still be humanity’s finest hour
—Khaled Nusseibeh

Do we begin to see a pattern emerging? A wise man once said that if we don't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. Until we study history and understand the real reasons that people with darker skin have been repeatedly abused by white fascists (Andrew Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Hitler, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, et al), we will always have hostilities, acts of terrorism, and wars.

There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.
—Mark Twain

Americans who still subscribe to the strange idea that Americans are "free" should ask themselves why millions of poor and middle-class young Americans are being asked to sacrifice their lives, health and mental wellbeing to fight wars on false premises in the Middle East, while the richest 1% of Americans are not even asked to sacrifice the tax cuts granted them by the Bush Administration which started the wars. Hitler and the Nazis persuaded ordinary Germans to sing "Deutschland Uber Alles" while attacking one nation after another in the name of the Fatherland. Today we hear the same type of jingoistic hymns being sung by Americans who know that at home their government is unjust, but still fervently believe that abroad its intentions are "noble" and "good." Unless governments bend to the will of the people, we will always see the flower of our youth marching off to die in wars that should never have been fought in the first place. Nazi Germany blamed all its problems on its victims: the Jews, the Gypsies, and other "inferior" people. In the past, the U.S. blamed its problems on its victims: Native Americans and African Americans. Today, the U.S. government blames its problems on its victims: Muslims who live in the Middle East and have every right to live their lives without outside interference Unless Americans are willing to study the history of the Middle East honestly, and see the terrible injustices inflicted on Palestinians in 1948, on Iranians during the CIA-engineered coup of 1953, and on Lebanon when the U.S. Sixth Fleet shelled Beruit in the early 1980s (an act of war) ... how can they hope to have peace? The poets whose words follow saw the horror of the regimes they opposed. How can we fail to see that the same kinds of wild lies and injustices continue to plague us today?

Ancient Greek Epitaphs (circa 582-220 BC)

War is the ultimate occupation. Some of the most powerful protest poems ever written in any language are brief inscriptions found on the tombstones of ancient Greeks. So I created a small collection of English epigrams modeled after epitaphs gleaned from ancient Greek gravestones and called the collection Athenian Epitaphs.

Here he lies, in state tonight: great is his Monument!
Yet Ares cares not, neither does War relent.
Michael R. Burch, after Anacreon (circa 582-485 BC)

Passerby,
tell the Spartans we lie
here, dead at their word,
obedient to their command.
Have they heard?
Do they understand?
Michael R. Burch, after Simonides (circa 556-468 BC)

Blame not the gale, or the inhospitable sea-gulf, or friends’ tardiness,
mariner! Just man’s foolhardiness.
Michael R. Burch, after Leonidas of Tarentum (circa 290-220 BC)

Anglo-Saxon Protest Poetry (circa 900-1066 AD)

The relatively small island of England was occupied many times: by Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Vikings, and finally by the Normans under William the Conqueror in 1066. The poem below, "Wulf and Eadwacer," gives us a good idea of what happened to many innocent women and their families during such conquests and occupations.

Wulf and Eadwacer
anonymous Anglo-Saxon poem, circa 960-990 AD
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The outlanders pursue him as if he were game.
They will kill him if he comes in force.
It is otherwise with us.

Wulf is on one island; I, on another.
That island is fast, surrounded by fens.
There are fierce men on this island.
They will kill him if he comes in force.
It is otherwise with us.

My thoughts pursued Wulf like a panting hound.
Whenever it rained and I woke, disconsolate,
the bold warrior came: he took me in his arms.
For me, there was pleasure, but its end was loathsome.
Wulf, O, my Wulf, my ache for you
has made me sick; your infrequent visits
have left me famished, but why should I eat?
Do you hear, Eadwacer? A she-wolf has borne
our wretched whelp to the woods.
One can easily sunder what never was one:
our song together.

Medieval Protest Poetry of the First Inquisition (circa 1165-1184 AD)

The Dark Ages led to a new form of protest against the Holy Wars, Inquisitions, hypocrisy and cruelty of the "Moral Majority" of that era. A medieval Latin poet known today as the Archpoet may have been the first scholar to "go rogue." He wrote some of the most scathing, wildly entertaining verses of all time. The method of his madness was to "agree" with his Christian oppressors that he was "damned" and therefore might as well have a good time getting drunk, gambling and bedding wenches. The Archpoet is simultaneously funny, irreverent and wise. He wrote on the cusp of the Inquisition, which probably explains his use of a pseudonym. His oppressors would no doubt have tortured and killed him, if he had revealed his identity. This is protest poetry of a very high order:

Excepts from "His Confession" (circa 1165)
by the Archpoet
translated from the original medieval Latin by Helen Waddell

Seething over inwardly
With fierce indignation,
In my bitterness of soul,
Hear my declaration.
I am of one element,
Levity my matter,
Like enough a withered leaf
For the winds to scatter.

...

Never yet could I endure
Soberness and sadness,
Jests I love and sweeter than
Honey find I gladness.
Whatsoever Venus bids
Is a joy excelling,
Never in an evil heart
Did she make her dwelling.

Down the broad way do I go,
Young and unregretting,
Wrap me in my vices up,
Virtue all forgetting,
Greedier for all delight
Than heaven to enter in:
Since the soul is in me dead,
Better save the skin.

Pardon, pray you, good my lord,
Master of discretion,
But this death I die is sweet,
Most delicious poison.
Wounded to the quick am I
By a young girl's beauty:
She's beyond my touching? Well,
Can't the mind do duty?

Hard beyond all hardness, this
Mastering of Nature:
Who shall say his heart is clean,
Near so fair a creature?
Young are we, so hard a law,
How should we obey it?
And our bodies, they are young,
Shall they have no say in’t?

...

'Tis the fire that's in the cup
Kindles the soul's torches,
‘Tis the heart that drenched in wine
Flies to heaven's porches.
Sweeter tastes the wine to me
In a tavern tankard
That the watered stuff my Lord
Bishop has decanted.

Let them fast and water drink,
All the poets' chorus,
Fly the market and the crowd
Racketing uproarious.
Sit in quiet spots and think,
Shun the tavern's portal
Write, and never having lived,
Die to be immortal.

...

Good my lord, the case is heard,
I myself betray me,
And affirm myself to be
All my fellows say me.
See, they in thy presence are:
Let whoe’er hath known
His own heart and found it clean,
Cast at me the stone.

Medieval English Protest Poetry (circa 1500-1661 AD)

Some of the best English poets were confined to the Tower of London, including Sir Thomas Wyatt and Sir Walter Raleigh. The latter lost his head, as did Chidiock Tichborne, whose elegy to himself below remains one of the best and most powerful in the English language. Tichborne was executed as one of the many victims of England's religious wars between Catholics and Protestants. English kings continued to order summary executions, including beheadings, of their political enemies up until around 1661 AD.

On the Eve of His Execution
by Chidiock Tichborne [1563-1586]

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain;
The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen, yet my leaves are green,
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and found it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made;
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

Early American Protest Poetry (circa 1743-1826 AD)

The famous sentence from the Declaration of Independence below, perhaps the most important sentence ever written by any human being, is actually a poem written in ringing iambic pentameter. It signaled the beginning of the end of the rule of kings, queens, czars and tyrants around the world. It would eventually deal the death-blow to slavery. Even today its basic premise—the essential equality of all human beings, and their right to freedom and justice—continues to undergird modern civilization. When the Bible (full of verses that command or condone racism, slavery, sexism, homophobia and religious intolerance) confronts Jefferson's immortal sentence, human interpretations of the Bible invariably change, as more and more human beings have come to believe that equality and tolerance are the true path to peace and happiness here on earth.

The Declaration of Independence
by Thomas Jefferson [1743-1826]

We hold these truths to be self-evident:
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain inalienable rights;
that among these are life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness.

Protest Poems and Art of the First Great Romantic: William Blake [1757-1827]

Protest poems and songs go back at least as far as the ancient Hebrew prophets, who spoke eloquently of the need for chesed (mercy, compassion, lovingkindness) and social justice, often in lines of stirring poetry. William Blake, the greatest English prophet-poet, and Walt Whitman, the greatest American prophet-poet, were both students of the Bible and were no doubt greatly influenced by what they read. Here is one of the first great protest poems in the modern English language:

Jerusalem
by William Blake [1757-1827]

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire.

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

William Blake proposed a new form of warfare: a "mental fight" against the Satanic mills of what what Dwight D. Eisenhower would later call the "military-industrial complex." His poem "Jerusalem" was later set to music, becoming a hymn and anthem. It's one of my mother's favorite hymns; when she found it missing from the hymnal she kept at home, she hand-wrote it on the inside of the back cover, from memory. That's a testament to the enduring power of William Blake's words.

Along with Michelangelo and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Blake is one of the few great artists who were also major poets. (Examples of his protest art appear below.) But Blake ranks higher than either Michelangelo or Rossetti as a poet, so he deserves strong consideration as the most important poet/artist of all time. Furthermore, when his influence on modern-day poets, artists, songwriters, filmmakers, novelists, graphic novelists, peace activists and child advocates is considered, a strong case can be made for calling Blake the most important poet and artist of all time. After all, he was the first genius to turn poetry and art into ideological weapons to be raised defiantly against the establishment, making him a prime mover in the arena of social change. Blake was the Thomas Jefferson and George Washington of counter-culture, anti-establishment poetry and art. He was also a poetic James Dean, the original "Rebel with a Cause." And Blake was also a major influence on pro-peace, anti-war singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and Bruce Springsteen.

Blake was a student of the Bible, but a fierce critic of the black-robed priests of Orthodoxy who nailed THOU SHALT NOT signs above his garden of love and earthly delights, condemning human beings to "hell" in the name of God. But today it seems that Blake has been vindicated. The Bible published by the Roman Catholic Church, the NABRE (New American Bible Revised Edition), doesn't contain a single mention of the word "hell." The HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible), published by the famously conservative and literal Southern Baptist Convention, barely mentions "hell." If this interests you, please read why "hell" is vanishing from the Bible. If you are interested in the subject of biblical inerrancy, please read is the Bible infallible?

Blake's love and compassion for children led him to write some of the most moving, world-transforming protest poems of all time, after he saw small children being forced to work long, hard, dangerous, grueling hours in mines and factories, and as chimney sweeps:

Songs of Experience: The Chimney Sweeper
by William Blake [1757-1827]

A little black thing in the snow,
Crying "'weep! 'weep!" in notes of woe!
"Where are thy father and mother? Say!"
"They are both gone up to the church to pray."

"Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smiled among the winter's snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe."

"And because I am happy and dance and sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God and his priest and king,
Who make up a heaven of our misery."

In the poem above we can feel Blake's tender empathy for suffering child chimneysweeps so young they can't pronounce the "s" in "sweep" and so can only say "weep." We can also feel Blake's anger with religious people who go to church and "pray" while innocent children suffer and die. What would Blake make of Jews and Christian today, who go to churches and synagogues, and endlessly read and study the Bible, but don't know better than to allow the children of Gaza to suffer and die so needlessly? I have no doubt that he would think as little of them as he did of the "Christian" slavemasters who used and abused children in the "jolly old England" of his day.

Blake was at the forefront of the British abolitionist movement, not only in opposing slavery, but also in advocating the equality of the races, as we shall see in the following poem (the full poem follows the plates and is much easier to read):

The Little Black Boy

William Blake's "The Little Black Boy" (First Plate)



William Blake's "The Little Black Boy" (First Plate)

The Little Black Boy
by William Blake [1757-1827]

My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O! my soul is white;
White as an angel is the English child,
But I am black, as if bereav'd of light.

My mother taught me underneath a tree,
And sitting down before the heat of day,
She took me on her lap and kissed me,
And pointing to the east, began to say:

Look on the rising sun: there God does live,
And gives his light, and gives his heat away;
And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive
Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday.

And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love;
And these black bodies and this sunburnt face
Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.

For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear,
The cloud will vanish; we shall hear his voice,
Saying: "Come out from the grove, my love & care,
And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.''

Thus did my mother say, and kissed me;
And thus I say to little English boy:
When I from black and he from white cloud free,
And round the tent of God like lambs we joy,

I'll shade him from the heat, till he can bear
To lean in joy upon our father's knee;
And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair,
And be like him, and he will then love me.

Blake also spoke clearly and forthrightly for equality between the races in his visual art. Blake depicted the horrors of racism and slavery more graphically than he did any other horrors ...



William Blake's "A Negro Hung Alive"

Woman Hung

William Blake's "Flagellation of a Female Samboe Slave"

... but he seemed to go beyond that to "connect" the suffering of slaves with the lot of suffering mankind, even poets, symbolized in the second image below by Los ...

Blake Color 1

William Blake's "Urizen in Fetters, Tears streaming from His Eyes"

Blake Color 2

William Blake's "Los, Symbol of Poetic Genius, Consumed by Flames"

Blake and other early Romantic poets including William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey, opposed slavery. In 1796 John Gabriel Stedman, a mercenary, published his memoirs of a five-year expedition against ex-slaves in Surinam; his book included a number of engraved illustrations by Blake depicting the horrifically cruel treatment of recaptured slaves. The first of these engravings has been "construed as an explicit attack on the slave trade" because Blake depicted "the skulls of the murdered slaves looking out over the sea to a slave ship in the distance while the most recent victim of plantation cruelty swings on the gallows in the foreground." These images were unique at that time for their graphic depiction of human suffering. Stedman's book and Blake's illustrations became part of abolitionist literature.

According to the "William Blake Biography" the poet was a "prophet against empire" who opposed slavery "over the course of his lifetime." Through his poetry and art "he was able both to counter pro-slavery propaganda and to complicate typical abolitionist verse and sentiment with a profound and unique exploration of the effects of enslavement and the varied processes of empire." The biography concludes: "Blake was among the few British writers who actively advocated slave rebellion and believed that it was at the edges of empire that true revolutions would occur."

The Gettysburg Address
Abraham Lincoln [1809-1865]

Four score and seven years ago
our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation,
conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition
that all men are created equal.

Make no mistake about it: Abraham Lincoln was a true poet, which you can easily confirm by clicking here: Abraham Lincoln, Poet. Lincoln's greatest poem, the Gettysburg Address, contains his two great themes: that the Union must be preserved, and that the fundamental proposition of that Union was that all men were created equal and thus were self-evidently entitled to Liberty (which he capitalized). That slavery was abolished and yet the Union remains is a lasting testament to an extraordinary man who happened to be a wonderful writer as well.

Leaves of Grass
Walt Whitman [1819-1862]

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

Harold Bloom once opined that Shakespeare "invented" the modern human consciousness. If so, Walt Whitman may have created the modern American consciousness, or at persuaded it to become more open-minded and tolerant. Whitman seemed to believe that autoeroticism, homosexuality and other things considered "evil" by church and state were, in fact, merely part of normal human life. He invited his readers to be tolerant freethinkers and to love freely. He was the second major poet of the "make love, not war" school, after Blake. Because Whitman was the first major free verse poet, he was highly influential with American and English poets to come, and with poets all around the world who chose to break the rules of formal poetry, or at least greatly relax them. No other English poet with the possible exception of Shakespeare has had more influence on poets and poetry around the world. The fact that Whitman was so generous in spirit and gregarious in nature, and became so influential, has no doubt helped many other poets, songwriters, musicians and artists become more freethinking and tolerant themselves. In effect, he helped change the culture of modern art.

Dover Beach
by Matthew Arnold [1822-1888]

The sea is calm to-night,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The sea of faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

"Dover Beach" may be the first modern English poem. When Arnold speaks of the "Sea of Faith" retreating, he seems to be setting the stage for Modernism, which to some degree was the reaction of men who began to increasingly suspect that the "wisdom" contained in the Bible was far from the revelation of an all-knowing God.

"All right, then, I'll go to hell!" from Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain [1835-1910]

So I was full of trouble,
full as I could be;
and didn't know what to do.

At last I had an idea; and I says,
I'll go and write the letter—and then see if I can pray.
Why, it was astonishing,
the way I felt as light as a feather right straight off,
and my troubles all gone.

So I got a piece of paper and a pencil,
all glad and excited,
and set down and wrote:

Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville,
and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send.
—Huck Finn

I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life,
and I knowed I could pray now.
But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking—
thinking how good it was all this happened so,
and how near I come to being lost and going to hell.
And went on thinking.
And got to thinking over our trip down the river;
and I see Jim before me all the time:
in the day and in the night-time,
sometimes moonlight,
sometimes storms,
and we a-floating along,
talking and singing and laughing.
But somehow I couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me against him,
but only the other kind.
I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n,
'stead of calling me,
so I could go on sleeping;
and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog;
and when I come to him again in the swamp,
up there where the feud was; and suchlike times;
and would always call me honey,
and pet me,
and do everything he could think of for me,
and how good he always was;
and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had smallpox aboard,
and he was so grateful,
and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world,
and the only one he's got now;
and then I happened to look around and see that paper.

It was a close place.
I took it up, and held it in my hand.
I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it.
I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:
"All right, then, I'll go to hell!"—and tore it up.

While Mark Twain wrote a few poems here and there, he is best-known for his prose, and rightfully so. I have recast my favorite passage from Huckleberry Finn as free verse poetry, and I believe it passes muster. This is an important passage in American literature because the most famous American writer makes the point that if our religion teaches us to discriminate against our fellowmen, something is fundamentally wrong with our beliefs. Huckleberry Finn is one of the most-read books by an American writer, and hopefully has helped convince many people to follow the example of Huckleberry Finn, by choosing friendship, compassion and tolerance over the highly dubious "morality" preached by narrow-minded religious types.

I - Easter Hymn
by A. E. Housman [1859-1936]

If in that Syrian garden, ages slain,
You sleep, and know not you are dead in vain,
Nor even in dreams behold how dark and bright
Ascends in smoke and fire by day and night
The hate you died to quench and could but fan,
Sleep well and see no morning, son of man.

But if, the grave rent and the stone rolled by,
At the right hand of majesty on high
You sit, and sitting so remember yet
Your tears, your agony and bloody sweat,
Your cross and passion and the life you gave,
Bow hither out of heaven and see and save.

A. E. Housman was a non-believing homosexual ruled over by Christian philistines who would have crucified him twice: once for his "lack of faith" and again for his sexuality. And yet Housman seems like the better Christian, because rather than asking to be saved personally at the expense of billions of other human souls, he asked Jesus Christ to save everyone, if he was able. Housman's poem is a protest against a religion that all too often preaches love while practicing hatred, intolerance, hypocrisy and war.

XII
by A. E. Housman [1859-1936]

The laws of God, the laws of man,
He may keep that will and can;
Not I: let God and man decree
Laws for themselves and not for me;
And if my ways are not as theirs
Let them mind their own affairs.
Their deeds I judge and much condemn,
Yet when did I make laws for them?
Please yourselves, say I, and they
Need only look the other way.
But no, they will not; they must still
Wrest their neighbour to their will,
And make me dance as they desire
With jail and gallows and hell-fire.
And how am I to face the odds
Of man's bedevilment and God's?
I, a stranger and afraid
In a world I never made.
They will be master, right or wrong;
Though both are foolish, both are strong.
And since, my soul, we cannot fly
To Saturn nor to Mercury,
Keep we must, if keep we can,
These foreign laws of God and man.

Housman strongly protested the idea that Christians should be allowed to use the Bible to create arbitrary, unnecessary laws for nonbelievers like himself. He may have been thinking of Oscar Wilde, who was jailed on charges of homosexuality and died shortly after his release. Why should Housman have believed in the the highly dubious "morality" of a religion that damned him to "jail and gallows and hell-fire" just because he preferred men to women, sexually? This may be the first great protest poems written by a gay poet against his Christian oppressors.

Excerpts from "More Poems," XXXVI
by A. E. Housman [1859-1936]

Here dead lie we because we did not choose
To live and shame the land from which we sprung.
Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;
But young men think it is, and we were young.

I have loved the four lines by Housman above, since I first read them. He could write movingly without indulging in images, melodrama or sophistry, and rivals Shakespeare in what he could accomplish with direct statement. Housman is certainly a major poet, and one of our very best critics of human societies and religion, along with Blake, Twain and Wilde. A good number of his poems can be found on the Masters page of The HyperTexts.

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
by William Butler Yeats [1865-1939]

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

W. B. Yeats was probably the last of the great Romantics, and the first of the great Modernists. He wrote a good number of truly great poems, and remains an essential poet of the highest rank. "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" is a wonderful poem that illustrates how the people who die in war often have little to gain and everything to lose. Yeats also wrote eloquently about how the Irish people felt living under the thumb of imperial England. Several of Yeats' poems can be found on the Masters page of The HyperTexts.

Directive
by Robert Frost [1874-1963]

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,
There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.
The road there, if you'll let a guide direct you
Who only has at heart your getting lost,
May seem as if it should have been a quarry –
Great monolithic knees the former town
Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered.
And there's a story in a book about it:
Besides the wear of iron wagon wheels
The ledges show lines ruled southeast-northwest,
The chisel work of an enormous Glacier
That braced his feet against the Arctic Pole.
You must not mind a certain coolness from him
Still said to haunt this side of Panther Mountain.
Nor need you mind the serial ordeal
Of being watched from forty cellar holes
As if by eye pairs out of forty firkins.
As for the woods' excitement over you
That sends light rustle rushes to their leaves,
Charge that to upstart inexperience.
Where were they all not twenty years ago?
They think too much of having shaded out
A few old pecker-fretted apple trees.
Make yourself up a cheering song of how
Someone's road home from work this once was,
Who may be just ahead of you on foot
Or creaking with a buggy load of grain.
The height of the adventure is the height
Of country where two village cultures faded
Into each other. Both of them are lost.
And if you're lost enough to find yourself
By now, pull in your ladder road behind you
And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.
Then make yourself at home. The only field
Now left's no bigger than a harness gall.
First there's the children's house of make-believe,
Some shattered dishes underneath a pine,
The playthings in the playhouse of the children.
Weep for what little things could make them glad.
Then for the house that is no more a house,
But only a belilaced cellar hole,
Now slowly closing like a dent in dough.
This was no playhouse but a house in earnest.
Your destination and your destiny's
A brook that was the water of the house,
Cold as a spring as yet so near its source,
Too lofty and original to rage.
(We know the valley streams that when aroused
Will leave their tatters hung on barb and thorn.)
I have kept hidden in the instep arch
Of an old cedar at the waterside
A broken drinking goblet like the Grail
Under a spell so the wrong ones can't find it,
So can't get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn't.
(I stole the goblet from the children's playhouse.)
Here are your waters and your watering place.
Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.

Robert Frost in "Directive" was writing about the dark load orthodox Christianity heaps on the slender shoulders of innocent children, when it tells them that the Bible is the "infallible" and/or "inerrant" word of God, and that human beings live in danger of eternal torment. Frost understood all too well the emotional, psychological and spiritual damage children can suffer, when they read verses in the Bible that say most human beings are "predestined" for eternal damnation before they are born, and that Jesus Christ deliberately misled most of his followers so that they could not be saved, keeping his true teachings only for his inner circle [Mark 4:10-12]. Frost's magnificent poem is a protest against his Christian upbringing and its "guide" who "only has at heart your getting lost," whose followers put up signs marked "CLOSED to all but me."

The Unreturning
by Wilfred Owen  [1893-1918]

Suddenly night crushed out the day and hurled
Her remnants over cloud-peaks, thunder-walled.
Then fell a stillness such as harks appalled
When far-gone dead return upon the world.

There watched I for the Dead; but no ghost woke.
Each one whom Life exiled I named and called.
But they were all too far, or dumbed, or thralled,
And never one fared back to me or spoke.

Then peered the indefinite unshapen dawn
With vacant gloaming, sad as half-lit minds,
The weak-limned hour when sick men's sighs are drained.
And while I wondered on their being withdrawn,
Gagged by the smothering Wing which none unbinds,
I dreaded even a heaven with doors so chained.

Dulce Et Decorum Est
by Wilfred Owen [1893-1918]

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" is from Horace's Odes and means: "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country." This is one of the first and best graphic anti-war poems in the English language. Wilfred Owen had a mental breakdown during World War I, was treated, recovered, and returned to the front, only to be killed shortly before the Armistice. Wilfred Owen is a war poet without peer, and one of the first great modern poets. His poem "Dulce et Decorum Est" is probably the best anti-war poem in the English language, perhaps in any language. If man ever grows wise enough as a species to abolish war, Wilfred Owen's voice, echoed in thousands of other poems and songs, will have been a major catalyst.

i sing of Olaf glad and big
by e. e. cummings [1894-1962]

i sing of Olaf glad and big
whose warmest heart recoiled at war:
a conscientious object-or

his wellbelovéd colonel(trig
westpointer most succinctly bred)
took erring Olaf soon in hand;
but—though an host of overjoyed
noncoms(first knocking on the head
him)do through icy waters roll
that helplessness which others stroke
with brushes recently employed
anent this muddy toiletbowl,
while kindred intellects evoke
allegiance per blunt instruments—
Olaf(being to all intents
a corpse and wanting any rag
upon what God unto him gave)
responds,without getting annoyed
"I will not kiss your fucking flag"

straightway the silver bird looked grave
(departing hurriedly to shave)

but—though all kinds of officers
(a yearning nation's blueeyed pride)
their passive prey did kick and curse
until for wear their clarion 
voices and boots were much the worse,
and egged the firstclassprivates on
his rectum wickedly to tease
by means of skilfully applied
bayonets roasted hot with heat—
Olaf(upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
"there is some shit I will not eat"

our president,being of which
assertions duly notified     
threw the yellowsonofabitch
into a dungeon,where he died

Christ(of His mercy infinite)
i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because
unless statistics lie he was
more brave than me:more blond than you.

The poem "i sing of Olaf glad and big" denounces the brutal excesses of what William Blake called the "Satanic Mills" and Dwight D. Eisenhower called the "military-industrial complex." It makes a compelling case for the warmongers to be punished, rather than the conscientious objectors.

Minstrel Man

by Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter
And my throat
Is deep with song,
You did not think
I suffer after
I've held my pain
So long.

Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter
You do not hear
My inner cry:
Because my feet
Are gay with dancing,
You do not know
I die.

Langston Hughes was one of the most important protest poets of all time. His poetry contained elements of traditional poetry, negro spirituals and the blues.

Naming of Parts
by Henry Reed [1914-1986]

"Vixi duellis nuper idoneus
Et militavi non sine glori"


Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
   And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
   Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easily
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
   Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
   They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
   For today we have naming of parts.

Henry Reed is likely to be remembered by this one poem, but fortunately for him (and for us) it should make him immortal. His poem considers the irony of young men learning the mechanisms of war during the season of love and renewal, Spring. When I read his lovely poem, I immediately think of Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

Postcard 1
by Miklós Radnóti

written August 30, 1944
translated by Michael R. Burch

Out of Bulgaria, the great wild roar of the artillery thunders,
resounds on the mountain ridges, rebounds, then ebbs into silence
while here men, beasts, wagons and imagination all steadily increase;
the road whinnies and bucks, neighing; the maned sky gallops;
and you are eternally with me, love, constant amid all the chaos,
glowing within my conscience — incandescent, intense.
Somewhere within me, dear, you abide forever —
still, motionless, mute, like an angel stunned to silence by death
or a beetle hiding in the heart of a rotting tree.

Postcard 2
by Miklós Radnóti
written October 6, 1944 near Crvenka, Serbia

translated by Michael R. Burch

A few miles away they're incinerating
the haystacks and the houses,
while squatting here on the fringe of this pleasant meadow,
the shell-shocked peasants quietly smoke their pipes.
Now, here, stepping into this still pond, the little shepherd girl
sets the silver water a-ripple
while, leaning over to drink, her flocculent sheep
seem to swim like drifting clouds ...

Postcard 3
by Miklós Radnóti
written October 24, 1944 near Mohács, Hungary

translated by Michael R. Burch

The oxen dribble bloody spittle;
the men pass blood in their piss.
Our stinking regiment halts, a horde of perspiring savages,
adding our aroma to death's repulsive stench.

Postcard 4
by Miklós Radnóti
his final poem, written October 31, 1944 near Szentkirályszabadja, Hungary

translated by Michael R. Burch

I toppled beside him — his body already taut,
tight as a string just before it snaps,
shot in the back of the head.
"This is how you’ll end too; just lie quietly here,"
I whispered to myself, patience blossoming from dread.
"Der springt noch auf," the voice above me jeered;
I could only dimly hear
through the congealing blood slowly sealing my ear.

In my opinion, Miklós Radnóti is the greatest of the Holocaust poets, and one of the very best anti-war poets, along with Wilfred Owen and singer-songwriters like Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and John Lennon.

I Have a Dream
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [1929-1968]

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia
the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners
will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

... I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin
but by the content of their character ....

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted,
every hill and mountain shall be made low,
the rough places will be made plain,
and the crooked places will be made straight,
and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., like Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, resorted to poetry when everything was on the line. It's ironic that today people on the far left, such as Al Sharpton, and people on the far right, like Glen Beck, all want to be aligned with Dr. King and his message of equality. I consider that to be a very hopeful sign that things are improving, and will continue to improve. Progress, after all, begins with what we consider the goal to be.

Distant light
by Walid Khazindar [1950-]

Harsh and cold
autumn holds to it our naked trees:
If only you would free, at least, the sparrows
from the tips of your fingers
and release a smile, a small smile
from the imprisoned cry I see.
Sing! Can we sing
as if we were light, hand in hand
sheltered in shade, under a strong sun?
Will you remain, this way
stoking the fire, more beautiful than necessary, and quiet?
Darkness intensifies
and the distant light is our only consolation —
that one, which from the beginning
has, little by little, been flickering
and is now about to go out.
Come to me. Closer and closer.
I don't want to know my hand from yours.
And let's beware of sleep, lest the snow smother us.

Translated by Khaled Mattawa from the author's collections Ghuruf Ta'isha (Dar al-Fikr, Beirut, 1992) and Satwat al-Masa (Dar Bissan, Beirut, 1996). Reprinted from Banipal No 6. Translation copyright Banipal and translator. All rights reserved. Walid Khazindar was born in 1950 in Gaza City. While this wonderful poem may not be a war poem, per se, the Palestinians of Gaza have lived under an Israeli military siege and naval blockade for many years, so I think it qualifies.

Word Made Flesh
by Ann Drysdale [birth date unknown, still living and writing]

On the broad steps of the Basilica
The feckless hopefully hold out their hands,
Often with some success; the privileged
Lighten their consciences by a few pence
On their way to receive the sacrament.

On the seventeenth step two beggars sit
Paying no regard to the worshippers
Who file past on their way to salvation.
They do not ask for alms. They are engrossed,
Skillfully masturbating one another.

Most who have noticed this pretend they haven’t;
Some of the other beggars wish they wouldn’t.
Poor relief is incumbent on the rich
And by taking things into their own hands
They spoil the scene for everybody else.

Our Lord said, “silver and gold have I none
But such as I have give I thee”. The words
Are here made flesh; with beatific sigh
One gives the other benison, slipping
All that he has into the waiting hand
Of somebody who shares his human need.

The newly shriven filter down the steps
Averting their eyes from the seventeenth,
Where the first beggar, in a state of grace,
Works selflessly towards the second coming.

This fine poem by Ann Drysdale begs the question: "What would Jesus say, and do?"

So there you have them: the best protest poems of all time, according to me. I'm sure every reader's choices will be different, but if you added a poem or three to yours, having read mine, hopefully you will consider your time here well spent.

The HyperTexts