Iraq Occupation Focus logo US troops face Iraqi demonstrators in Baghdad, July 2003
Iraq Occupation Focus : Campaigning to end the occupation of Iraq
2004 competition
Join our mailing list
Subscribe to the Iraq Occupation Focus newsletter via
Support our work by becoming a member of Iraq Occupation Focus >>

Iraq Occupation Focus
PO Box 44680
N16 7XX

2004 competition: Highly commended (10 of 11)

Sophie Scholl

i.m. Sophie Scholl, 1921-43, and Margaret Hassan

Now she’d be over eighty,
that girl who said, I will not fight
for my country.

So many have died,
the boys I might have married, their fathers, fighting
for Germany, or Hitler.
Is it not time someone died
for something other?

And no, I will not knit
socks, or collect
warm clothing for our boys
on the Russian front.
Do you not see
that makes the war
last longer?

What I will give
instead of an old torn jacket, is
my life.

Now women aren’t protected;
the bombs target us as well, and we
are buried with no military honours.

And the memorial raised
to the English conscientious objectors who died
in the last war
is broken into a thousand unmarked pieces.

So many have said,
Compromise, don’t be ashamed
to get your hands dirty.
There is a greater good.
But you can compromise and compromise
till in the end
you look at your grubby and bloody hands;Ê there is nothing.

I take
my suitcase stuffed with leaflets, get on the train
for another town,
fighting the power
of this and every state
with a scrap of paper.

I choose the dangerous way
of total purity,
to leave no children; I shall always be twenty-one;

to thrust my hands
into a cage of thorns
and fetch out the white rose.

Merryn Williams