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I was trolling through my rather extensive music collection in the small hours of this morning and I rediscovered Protest Poetry put to music. This is a powerful piece of poetic prose and I beg that you pass it on, pay it forward, whatever you do please spread the word that nothing much has changed in the 47 years since 1970. This poem is the lyric to a song written and performed by Don McLean. It tells a shameful American story of the time but is just as valid in South Africa in 2017.

Read on and weep for our helpless and our children . . .

Orphans of Wealth by Don McLean © 1970

There is no time to discuss or debate

What is right; what is wrong, for our people

Time has run out for all those who wait

With bent limbs and minds that are feeble

 

And the rain falls and blows through their window

And the snow falls and blows through their door

And the seasons revolve mid their sounds of starvation

When the tides rise they cover the floor

 

And they come from the North

And they come from the South

And they come from the hills and the valleys

And they’re migrants and farmers

And miners and humans

That our Census neglected to tally

 

And the rain falls and blows through their window

And the snow falls and blows through their door

And the seasons revolve amid their sounds of starvation

When the tides rise they cover the floor

 

Then they’re African, Mexican,

Caucasian, Indian

Hungry and hopeless Americans

The Orphans of Wealth

And inadequate health

Disowned by this Nation they live in

 

Then, with weather-worn hands

In breadlines they stand

Yet, but one more degradation

Yes, they’re treated like tramps

While we sell them food stamps

This thriving and prosperous Nation

 

And the rain falls and blows through their window

And the snow falls and blows through their door

And the seasons revolve amid their sounds of starvation

When the tides rise they cover the floor

 

And with ‘roaches and rickets

And rats in their thickets

Infested, diseased and decaying

With rags and no shoes

And skin-sores that ooze

By poisonous pools they are playing

 

In shacks of two rooms

That are rotting-wood tombs

With corpses breathing inside them

Oh yes, and we pity their plight

As they call it a night

And we do all we can do . . . to hide them

 

And the rain falls and blows through their window

And the snow falls in white drifts that fold

And the tides rise; with floods in the Nursery

And a child is crying

He’s hungry and cold

His life has been sold

His young face looks old

 

It’s the face of America . . . dying . . .

 

from the album “Tapestry” by Don McLean © 1970 – all rights reserved


By the sheer weight of evidence over the past forty-seven years since Don McLean made this impassioned and articulate plea on behalf of our helpless and feeble nothing has changed. Not anywhere. How does such an important message manage to fall on deaf ears for such a long time?  All over the World this travesty is played out year after year in a never-ending cycle of neglect and selfishness. I can’t change the World on my own but to use Johnny Clegg’s words; “I can do this one thing” and beseech you to pass the word. Together we can do something meaningful. In isolation we are as a twig caught in a Tsunami; useless, powerless and pathetic. Please join me and stand up for those who have no voice through no fault of their own.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you here again soon. Blessings.

This post only; © 22 April 2017, Peter Mark Wells-Garnett


 

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