To Freedom


My successor as president of the Melbourne University Amnesty International group, Anthony Nicholas, began a fairly regular weekly poetry reading on something human rights related. As the outgoing president, I was called on to present the first poem. It is not very good. The final paragraph is borrowed from the Norwegian poet Nordahl Grieg.

A toast to freedom, it was said
of that, they thought would come no harm
but wrong were they, as we have read
of the Portuguese police’s heavy arm

One day a man read in the news
‘bout these kids who were in prison
this did not, the man amuse
and inside the man, a fire was risen

He wrote an article, this man did
“The Forgotten Prisoners” it was called
it called on readers to write to rid
the world of abuses so appalled

This movement you are part of now
from one man sprang forth, so broad its scope
its members, so numerous can now allow
to place in the darkest corners, the flame of hope

With us you’ll find it’s not a bore
defending human rights, but be sure to spare
a thought for those whom the candle burns for
the one’s we missed, now in God’s care

So, remember this my friend
the reason that we gather here
is not just to achieve and end
but to journey rightly too, with cheer

In brutal strife
your sword and shield shall be
belief in life
and human dignity

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