Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

David Paley






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David Paley

We are praised by the oppressed
When we remove the wrongs upon them
And shine upon the world
With the sun of righteous splendour;
But, in the whirligig of time,
Substitute for reputation
The earnest thought
That one must right another wrong
In order to support
The order now decreed,
Although one overturns, thereby,
The image of a saviour
And assumes the tawdry mantle
Torn from despots of the past.

The friends so dearly won
Hardly question what they see
But find, now, every reason
To crowd around in praise
Joined in adulation
Of what, before, they wished erased.
They, thus, line up in full support
Like the foes of yesteryear
Arrayed in blinkered ranks
When wiser counsel is required
But see no need to overturn
The heavy hand of order
That retains outmoded ways
In a world of changing days.

Now that duty has declared
That leaders must beware
Of rivals seeking to impose,
We cast away restraint
That we adopted in repose
And glare upon the world
That we suspect is in revolt.
With a hostile glance of warning
At those who deny the menace,
We make our speeches of defiance
That the task that we, now, face
Is of such importance
That no dissent must ever murmur
From even the slightest Jeremiah.