History as a trial

‘To present history as a trial in which man as advocate for mute nature makes a complaint against the nonappearance of the promised Messiah. The court, however, decides to hear witnesses for the future. There appear the poet who senses it, the sculptor who sees it, the musician who hears it, and the philosopher who knows it. Their testimony thus diverges, though all of them testify to his coming. The court does not dare admit its indecision. Hence there is no end of new complaints or new witnesses. There is torture and martyrdom. The jury benches are occupied by the living, who listen to the human prosecutor and the witnesses with equal mistrust. The jurors’ seats are inherited by their sons. At length they grow afraid they may be driven from their benches. Finally all the jurors take flight, and only the prosecutor and the witnesses remain.’
– Walter Benjamin

Red Flag (for the 21st century)

 

There is a flag on the ground.

 

Hid in swamp,

marked by mud,

Wet with dream-tears,

Stained with blood-sorrow

and sweat-anger,

Ragged with world-vision.

Stitched by a million hands,

Kissed with new joy,

 Tucked away in cellars,

Folded in whispers,

kept warm with old hope.

 

Until dragged into daylight,

hoisted high above heads,

Carved into monuments,

It quickened hearts,

loosened tongues,

Rattled throats like chains.

 

Until torn asunder,

thrown to wind,

Buried in dust-

 

There is a flag on the ground.

Pick it up.