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Learning from History

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They said, my saints, my slogan-sayers sang,   
Be good, my child, in spite of all alarm.

They stood, my fathers, tall in a row and said,   
Be good, be brave, you shall not come to harm.

I heard them in my sleep and muttering dream,   
And murmuring cried, How shall I wake to this?

They said, my poets, singers of my song,   
We cannot tell, since all we tell you is

But history, we speak but of the dead.   
And of the dead they said such history

(Their beards were blazing with the truth of it)   
As made of much of me a mystery.


Source: Poetry (July/August 2011)

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

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Learning from History

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