Thursday, 29 January 2015


They tell me Alexander conquered the world –
And Caesar brought Europe under his sway
They did it alone, you say?

They tell me Qin built the Great Wall
And Shah Jahan the Taj.
They did it alone, did they?

I was there.

I was the armourer who sharpened Alexander’s spears
I was the prisoner Caesar brought in chains to Rome.
I was the mason who died making the Great Wall
I was the stone-cutter who lost a hand for the Taj,
I was
The carpenter who hewed Jesus’ cross from the wood
The Englishman who set light to Jeanne d'Arc's pyre.

I was the Ethiopian warrior armed with a spear
Poison-gas bombed, so Mussolini could build an Empire,
I was the Chinese woman raped to death
When Nanjing fell.

I was the guard at Auschwitz who gassed the Jews
The Indian peasant starved to death by Churchill, too –
I was the dust beneath the wheels
Of conquerors’ chariots,
I was
The oil in the engines of their ravaging tanks.

I was, I am
Nameless, faceless -

No angel, no devil, just the one in the way
The one you forgot.

Just you try making history
Without me.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2015



  1. You were the nameless, faceless worker then, like most of the rest of us. The ones who take all the risks, the slaves, the exploited, the fishermen who drown in the vast oceans, the miners who are killed in cave-ins and explosions while the generals, the CEOs, the presidents, the bosses, get medals, glory and riches. A grand Socialist poem.

  2. Hi Bill, I've not been here on blogger for ages but I'll probably be spending a bit more time here now. You always did manage to hit the nail on the head so to speak. Nothing ever changes, we are just little cogs in huge machines.


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