Ferlinghetti: ‘Pity the Nation Whose Leaders Are Liars’

Lawrence Ferlinghetti must be wondering what all the fuss is about. After all, he’s only going to turn 100 on Sunday. What’s the big deal? I’m betting he would prefer that people take note of his twelve-year-old poem.

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
Whose sages are silenced
And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
Except  to praise conquerers
And acclaim the bully as hero
And aims to rule the world
By force and by torture
Pity the nation that knows
No other language but its own
And no other culture but its own
Pity the nation whose breath is money
And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed
Pity the nation oh pity the people
who allow their rights to  erode
and their freedoms to be washed away
My country, tears of thee
Sweet land of liberty

(After Khalil Gibran)


Jan Herman


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2 Responses to Ferlinghetti: ‘Pity the Nation Whose Leaders Are Liars’

    1. Ferlinghetti is now 100 years old…… Amazing

      Comment by Patrick Campbell on 5 April, 2019 at 10:31 am
    2. I have respected and loved Ferlinghetti and the poets of the Beat Generation for many years. They have had a powerful influence on my personal journey into writing poetry. They have made poetry accessible to those that have never read a poem. This poem, “Pity the Nation,” in particular, has such relevance to what we are currently experiencing in this country and other parts of the world, that I’ve been sharing it with several friends. I came upon this site while searching for the date when it was written. Anyone know?

      Comment by Nick on 5 January, 2020 at 2:56 am

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