Not He is a Great Man

Not he is a great man before whom the millions
In manacled meekness, in fetters bow down
Yet inwardly curse him; it is not the tyrant
Whom thankful descendants with glory will crown.

He only is worthy of genuine homage
Whose life was devoted to serving mankind,
Whom men do not fear, but bow, grateful, before him,
Of whom deeds of valour forever remind.

Not he is almighty whose might finds its outcome
In rivers of tears and in oceans of gore,
Whose power leaves its traces in numberless ruins,
In corpses and wounds, in debris of war.

He truly is mighty who does not need bloodshed
To carry fraternity's light everywhere,
Who, helping the poor to emerge from dejection,
Their burden of woe makes less heavy to bear.

Not he is a brave man who, seizing a sabre
And like a wild predator thirsting for pelf,
Attacks fellow-humans, destroys them and kills them,
Forgetting that he is a human himself.

He only indeed may be honoured for valour
Who selflessly struggles for freedom of thought,
And, never afraid to defend his opinion,
Tells people the truth to their face, as he ought.

Translated by Dorian Rottenberg
(Contributed by daniel on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011)
 
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