(After Khalil Gibran)
Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars,
whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people
who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti is 100 years old today.