A Psalm of Christmas
What the heart of the young activist said to the psalmist

By Evan Mantyk

Tell me not in boring numbers
About today’s economy,
For our consciences grow numb-er
And become our own enemy.

Money’s not real! It’s an idea!
It’s a value agreed to give;
It’s a home, clothes, and a meal
It’s a means, not an end, to live!

Not an end after won elections
Not an end after more degrees!
But to awaken populations!
And find something greater to be!

Money is built on more ideas
Like on what it means to live well;
Does it involve clean air and trees?
Or does it make someone’s life hell?

Do we care that our Christmas lights
Are made by prisoners of faith,
Tortured and deprived of the rights
We value, or so we sayeth?

What about discrimination
That occurs outside our borders
In a trading “partner” nation
From which our shelves are mail ordered?

The Falun Gong practitioner
Is the world’s silent elephant
Crucified with modern horror
That we all knowingly permit.

We can’t not buy “Made in China”
But we can speak loud our brave minds
And let ring a meaningful change
That makes our lives a bit sublime.

Let us then speak out loud and strong
With words of both truth and cheer:
“Merry Christmas, free Falun Gong,
And have a prosperous New Year!”

 

Evan Mantyk is an English teacher and poet living in New York.

Featured Image: “Shock” by Xiaoping Chen portrays the scene in a modern Chinese jail house, where a practitioner of the spiritual practice Falun Gong had been beaten because of the Chinese regime’s campaign to eradicate the faith. (Falunart.org)

A_Psalm_of_Life

A Psalm of Life
What the heart of the young man said to the Psalmist

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;—

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) is regarded as the greatest American poet.  At the time he wrote, before movies, television, and radio, he was extremely popular and his poetry was a source of national interest and entertainment.  He used European styles but often wrote on uniquely American subjects.  In past generations, students were required to study his poems in school and children often grew up listening to his rhymes. 

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