The HyperTexts

Charlie Hebdo Poetry

These are poems of tribute and sympathy for the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and their co-workers who were murdered by terrorists in Paris, France on January 7, 2015. We have also included heretical poems, cartoons, quips, quotes and epigrams we think they might have appreciated, since they were anti-religion and accused of "blasphemy." We also remember and honor Ahmed Merabet, the Muslim police officer who was shot dead in cold blood as he lay wounded in the street.

"Satire, like folk music and freedom songs, works best when it is comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable."—Robert F. Darden

View image on Twitter

The cartoon above was created by David Pope, a political cartoonist for Australia's Canberra Times. Within a few hours the cartoon had gone viral on social media, with more than 60,000 tweets and 30,000 favorites. "It just hit a nerve," according to Pope. Also within a few hours, the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie ("I am Charlie") had eclipsed other internet memes to become an expression of global solidarity with the murdered cartoonists. But let's be honest and admit that most of the world did not risk death by directly confronting Islamic extremists in a duel of pens versus assault weapons. Charlie possessed a rare courage and refused to be intimidated or silenced. Most of us are not that brave, nor that defiant.

Out Drawn
by Michael R. Burch

Alas, Charlie Hebdo,
I heard the dark rumor
that you perished for humor.

Do religions enchant?
Should skeptics recant
to avoid the next blow,

or grab a fresh quill,
summon courage and will,
let the heresies flow?

Forgive, O Lord
by Robert Frost

Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee
And I'll forgive the great big one on me.

Is there any reward?
by Hillaire Belloc

Is there any reward?
I'm beginning to doubt it.
I am broken and bored,
Is there any reward
Reassure me, Good Lord,
And inform me about it.
Is there any reward?
I'm beginning to doubt it.

by George Held

To the indelible spirit of “La Marseillaise”

Though assassins dealt a death blow
To cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo,
Now the free world joins to say “Non!”
To terrorists who trade in woe:
“Vive la satire!” “ΐ bas” the foes
Of liberty, equality, fraternity,
Those magnificent words English
And French and their multicultural
Societies share and now renew
Their commitment to.

I believe God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability.Oscar Wilde

If God
is good
half the Bible
is libel.
Michael R. Burch

It's not the parts of the Bible that I don't understand that bother me, it's the parts I do understand.—Mark Twain

je suis Charlie
by Michael R. Burch

je suis Charlie ...
at least to the extent
that i wish god
and his profits
would repent.

but am i as brave
as Charlie was?
i am no Hebdo,
Freedom's Champion
and Hero!

or perhaps not
by Michael R. Burch

am i Charlie Hebdo?
He was a hero.

i, on the other hand, politely bestow
disarming charms which, the heavens know,
are all carefully worded to avoid the next blow.

Give me liberty, or give me death.—Patrick Henry
I WILL BE HEARD.William Lloyd Garrison
An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.Mohandas Gandhi
If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything.—Malcolm X
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.—Voltaire
Once fanaticism has gangrened brains the malady is usually incurable.—Voltaire, translation by Michael R. Burch

The Silent Slain
by Archibald MacLeish

We too, we too, descending once again
The hills of our own land, we too have heard
Far off — Ah, que ce cor a longue haleine —
The horn of Roland in the passages of Spain,
The first, the second blast, the failing third,
And with the third turned back and climbed once more
The steep road southward, and heard faint the sound
Of swords, of horses, the disastrous war,
And crossed the dark defile at last, and found
At Roncevaux upon the darkening plain
The dead against the dead and on the silent ground
The silent slain —

If you can't be a good example, you'll just have to be a horrible warning.—Catherine the Great
He does not believe, who does not live according to his belief.—Sigmund Freud
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.—Albert Einstein

In God We Trust
by Tom Merrill

Absolve yourselves, believe them saved,
Whom hungrily you brought to fare
As chance decrees, and leave to them
The fortune to which you rose heir.
Now theirs shall be the kingdom too,
This one and that, and all they hold,
All marvels present, and as well
Fresh wonders when the flesh turns cold.

All you who by blind pulse renew
The primal blessing cast in heat,
And to a season's course entrust
Frail issue weather can defeat,
Who from flung seed grew anxious too—
Deny earth feeds on them and you.

Religion is the opiate of the people.—Karl Marx
Religion is the dopiate of the sheeple.—Michael R. Burch

Willy Nilly
by Michael R. Burch

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
You made the stallion,
you made the filly,
and now they sleep
in the dark earth, stilly.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
You forced them to run
all their days uphilly.
They ran till they dropped—
life’s a pickle, dilly.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?

Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?
They say I should worship you!
Oh, really!
They say I should pray
so you’ll not act illy.
Isn’t it silly, Willy Nilly?

Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.—George Santayana
It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved.—Galileo Galilei
Heresy is another word for freedom of thought.—Graham Greene
They that approve a private opinion, call it opinion; but they that dislike it, heresy; and yet heresy signifies no more than private opinion.—Thomas Hobbes
Heretics are the only remedy against the entropy of human thought.—Yevgeny Zamyatin
The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next.—Helen Keller
Read everything, listen to everything, but believe nothing until you've researched it yourself.—William Cooper
There are none so blind as those who will not see.—John Heywood (often attributed to Jonathan Swift)

Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.—Oscar Wilde
Always forgive your enemies: nothing annoys them so much.—Oscar Wilde
There is no sin except stupidity.—Oscar Wilde

Excerpts from "More Poems"
by A. E. Housman


The mill-stream, now that noises cease,
Is all that does not hold its peace;
Under the bridge it murmurs by,
And here are night and hell and I.

Who made the world I cannot tell;
'Tis made, and here I am in hell.
My hand, though now my knuckles bleed,
I never soiled with such a deed.

And so, no doubt, in time gone by,
Some have suffered more than I,
Who only spend the night alone
And strike my fist upon the stone.

Treat everyone you meet as if they are God in drag.—Ram Dass
I'm on the right track, baby, I was born this way.—Lady Gaga
Class is classlessness.—Tom Merrill
Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.—John F. Kennedy
Before every man can present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.—Albert Einstein
Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.—Robert Green Ingersoll
What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. Let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly.—Voltaire
Religion is like a pair of shoes. Find one that fits for you, but don't make me wear your shoes.—George Carlin
Without tolerance, our world becomes hell.—Friedrich Durrenmatt
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.—Rumi
It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.—Thomas Jefferson
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality ... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Funeral Blues
by W. H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

A Child’s Christmas Prayer of Despair for a Hindu Saint
by Michael R. Burch

Santa Claus,
for Christmas, please,
don’t bring me toys, or games, or candy . . .
just . . . Santa, please . . .
I’m on my knees! . . .
please — don’t let Jesus torture Gandhi!

gimME that ol’ time religion!
by michael r. burch

fiddle-dee-dum, fiddle-dee-dee,

loves and understands ME!
safe in his grace, I’LL damn
them to hell—
strumpet, the harlot, the wild jezebel,
alky, the druggie, all queers short and tall!
them drink ashes and wormwood and gall,
’cause fiddle-dee-DUMB, fiddle-dee-WEE
loves and understands

A Dream Deferred
by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

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

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