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POEM

If we must die

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If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead
O kinsmen! We must meet the common foe!

Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
What else is there to do in the face of such an inhuman assault?

What dies here? What is the nature of the death?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
There is a definition of manhood

As defined by collective resistance
And emboldened by rhythmic, iambic marching
The murderous attackers are revealed
To be both monsters and an animalistic “pack

That has dehumanised itself.
Not in death or dying but in the fighting back
That is imagined as evidence of the manly and the human

It’s this “fighting back” by the wrong-doers
Which survives the grave and lays claim to heroic dignity.

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