Poetry Corner: Democracy

yellow ribbon AToday shall find Professor Clara Ponsati attending Edinburgh Sheriff Court after handing herself into Scottish Police, in a show of Solidarity The Orkney News shall today publish, Democracy by Langston Hughes


Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.

Is a strong seed
In a great need.

I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.


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  1. I Gave My Word

    by Zbigniew Herbert

    I was very young
    and common sense told me
    not to give my word

    I could easily say
    I’ll give it some thought
    what’s the big hurry
    it’s not a train schedule

    I’ll give my word
    after graduation
    after military service
    after I make a home

    but time exploded
    there was no before
    there was no after
    in the blinding present
    you had to choose
    so I gave my word

    a word–
    a noose round my neck
    an ultimate word

    in the rare moments
    when everything is light
    and becomes transparent
    I think to myself:
    “my word
    how I’d like
    to take my word back”

    it doesn’t last for long
    the world’s axis screeches

    people pass away
    as do landscapes
    coloured rings of time
    but the word I gave
    is stuck in my throat

    Claire Ponsati gave her word, she made a choice, a commitment, and she’s standing by it. The world needs political leaders like her. She puts many of the present incumbents to shame.
    Once you become aware, are given the choice “in the blinding present”, and set your foot on the path, you must stick to it, still out of choice though, it’s no good if it becomes just because you feel you must, or because it becomes a habit. You have to keep re-iterating your choice and your commitment, keeping it fresh, and learning too, all the time, and as we learn, we renew our vows and our commitment, as the knowledge of what we’re here for, becomes clearer and stronger. And Claire Ponsati has done this, by handing herself over to the authorities, whether she actually thinks the situation is ‘right’ or not, she knew that she had to do that.

    And it does stick in your throat, a bit, sometimes, when it’s hard to stick to it, and it looks like life would be easier if you could go back on your commitment and take an easier way through the world. But it isn’t about life being easy, anyway. It’s about seeing your way, making your choice, and going with it, working with it, as long as you feel it’s the right choice. If your view changes, maybe a shift is then called for, but always sticking to having given your word, to do what you believe to be the right thing, at any given time.
    Good woman – other politicians, watch and learn.

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