Where are the thunderers who once could speak
The Language of the Prophets, when the weak
Were broken and the good oppressed? Where are those
Whose words were cleansing fire, till there arose
The phoenix-armies from the martyrs' dust
To make the word the deed, oppose the lust
Of tyrants and proclaim the prophets true?
Where is the gratitude our fathers knew
And santuary and penance for wrong power?
Did Milton fail the martyrs, Gladstone cower
Before the ruthless? Was the public pen
Careful of epithet? And public men --
Were they afraid to say: "Alas we erred
And now confess our error. Let the word
Go out, perhaps to save a soul and save
Our souls"? Today the coward and the knave
Are kings. These are mean times. If it be doom,
Our tongues, at least, are free and there is room
For utterance that salves us if not saves.
Why should we ape the silence of graves?
And even these have epitaphs as tongues.
Since power is dumb before the powerful wrongs
Let one small voice salute the Serbian.
With shame at first, then prayer for that brave man.
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