Saturday, 19 December 2015



A man from Syria was on the news.
They filmed him on a bridge.
Below him a river flowed,
somewhere in England.
He had made it here,
journeyed by lorry on the roads,
on a boat on the water,
he managed to be stowed.
It seemed to me,
his spirit was still and cold,
but he had saved his body.
Bent and hollow,
he stood in his shoes.
That he was free
to him was no victory.
He had lost his homeland,
the one he was,
he was not allowed to be.
Next he sat at a table
by the river in the open air,
a reporter with him,
in another chair.
"What's the answer?"
the reporter asked.
"Do we allow more refugees
to come to our shores?"
The man raised his head.
"No," he said. "You want the answer?
End the war in Syria."
The reporter nodded, pale and sad.
Then it was back to the newsreader
in the studio,
the next item to be portrayed.
The man from Syria
had vanished from the screen.

I could not help but think of Bible times,
all those wars and sieges, long ago,
that happened in the Middle East,
the lines of lamentations,
the broken psalms of despair and woe,
ever since Moses said to Pharaoh:
"Let my people go."

The disgrace of human history
we all must learn about at school,
the list of empires and emperors,
the names of those who broke every rule,
conquests, invasions and wars,
the trap self woven that will never break,
the dark dream from which we cannot wake.
The ones who work without weapons
always the ones to pay,
as the man from Syria
made clear to us today.

End the war in Syria.
Listen to the refugee.
The politicians know what must be done
to help him return to his home
to be himself, the one he was born to be.

Philip Dodd

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