Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Ballad of Tiananmen Square

Night in the city is shattered by the snarl of tanks;

Stone flags quake and steel tracks grate as they advance

On children sleeping in the Square in helpless ranks,

Where freedom's upstart banners deck a peaceful camp.

The army's iron dragon thunders like a hungry beast

And tramples with a growl in some frenzied rush to feast

The wide-eyed young of its selfsame race

And smites in heedless rage their upturned face.

A nation's sons and daughters in their tents are crushed

Beneath a ruler's iron heel who in his lust

To save his waning power heeds not the crimson gush

Of those who cry: "Kill your oppressor, friends, not us!"

In their wake the soldiers left kids mashed to bloody pulp,

As if in sacrifice on the altar of their hope.

Youth's crime? Just songs that did some daring dream invoke

Of all their kindred freed at last from a tyrant's yoke.

Morning laid their corpses under a weeping sky

While the newsrooms of the world still echoed with their cries;

And the headlines mourned with paeans all who died,

Who stared into our living rooms with scared unseeing eyes.

Who were this foe who lay so mangled in their death

But people just like us, who dared a hopeful breath?

And if mere dreams be punished thus, what else for us is left

But graveyard cities only, of the spark of hope bereft?

In the wake of tanks and motley ranks of troops all drugged to kill

A swathe of carnage festers 'til a city's heart is stilled.

Is this Order then, the many smashed to break their will,

And leadership supplanted by a single charnel skill?

Surely that's the Order only utter madmen wreak,

Silent like the graveyard where none remain to speak,

Where death replies and blinds the eyes of all who answers seek,

As if a word let slip might serve to tip the tyrant from his seat.

What did they wrong these dead but to demand a better world,

The cause their killers spoused when once their flags unfurled?

And if 'tis no longer people these bloody traitors serve,

What serve they then but Satan, madness or the meaningless of words?

We lost a thousand friends that day, while we stood helpless by,

As a legion of the best of us for the rest of us lay down and died

At the hand of those whose recourse is the bullet and the lie

Whose geriatric hatred keeps a doddering creed alive.

Only darkest evil could have spawned the nightmare deed,

Which the death of innocents to serve its whim decreed,

Then bade brother murder brother sprung from selfsame seed,

Then with satisfaction watched a weeping nation bleed.

Lost to love and reason in lofty offices of state,

Cold and old these demons ordered tanks to serve their hate;

Unfit to plead yet fit to lead they still decree the fate

Of the recent dead and dead-to-be, 'til freedom's pulse abates.

"The People's Army will protect you!" The scheming liars said;

"Your dreams shall not be stricken nor your precious blood be shed!"

Then for the People and the System loosed the dogs of war instead,

For the people, by the People, left the people dead.

Yet we have seen that something of far greater power guides

The brave and noble sons who still lay down their lives,

That force in all its savagery shall never quite contrive

To quench the torch we took from the hands of those who died.

The image of a boy who stood alone before the guns

Burns into our hearts the thought that evil has not won;

Where one man dies then others rise for the battle just begun

And now the struggle's ours, let's rise and get it done!

by: kieron mcfadden