Social Justice Poetry

Diane Woodward Dorff

Tears | A Social Justice Poem by Diane Woodward Dorff

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that’s the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much.”
Alan Paton – Cry, the Beloved Country

cry, the beloved country
weep for the rising oceans undefended
grieve for the freshness of the air unshielded
for the forgotten cost of the purity of rivers
abhor the leaders investing themselves in themselves
mourn the babies raised in uncertainty
but let not the growing children
safeguard their hearts in mistrust
let them give their hearts beating with wonder
to the silver-green bending grasses
to the branches of willows holding all their breath underneath
to the secret days that turn the wheat from green to golden
to the green sky holding the water that makes the rainbow
let the young ones cleave to their beloved country
unafraid of tears

Compass | A Social Justice Poem by Diane Woodward Dorff

sometimes it is best not to raise your eyes
to the horizon to the world above and beyond
and far to the east and west and north and south
sometimes it is best to keep your eyes straight ahead
to your brothers and sisters and all the children
growing up around you

for I cannot travel far
and I am only a symbol a cypher
to those who hold the reins
who grip the steering wheel
but this is my world our world
and I will welcome all
and I will hold on tight

America Is Singing | A Social Justice Poem by Diane Woodward Dorff

“I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,….
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,…
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.”
– Walt Whitman

Our nation is filled with people
who have learned how to sing,
who have discovered raw power in their lungs,
who have opened their mouths and heard amazing melodies,
who have moved their legs and discovered electric motion,
who have looked at one another and said “I know you still.”
And we will rise together.
And we will overcome.