Benito Juarez


Peace is the respect for the rights of others.

Benito Juarez, a Zapotec Indian, was born and educated in the state of Oaxaca and practiced law there from 1834 to 1846.

In 1847, Benito was elected governor of Oaxaca. Juarez joined the liberal movement, which sought constitutional government, reduction of military and clerical power, and the redistribution of the church's huge landholdings. The dictator Santa Anna exiled Juarez in 1853.

In 1855, Juarez returned to Mexico and became the minister of justice. He had the Juarez Law enacted, which reduced the power of the army and of the catholic clergy. Juarez led the liberals as their provisional president in a civil war against the conservatives and clergy known as the War of the Reform (1858-1860). When the liberals won, he was elected to the office of President of Mexico in 1861.

He found that the government was in serious financial difficulty, and stopped the payment on all European loans for two years. The French used this action as an excuse to invade Mexico and to install Archduke Maximilian as Emperor of Mexico. Juarez directed the war for freedom against France. Then in 1866, the United States all but ordered the French out of Mexico. The French troops withdrew in 1866 and 1867 Juarez' forces then captured and executed Maximilian and his wife, Carlotta.

Juarez again became the President of Mexico in 1867. He then separated the church and state, established religious toleration, and altered the land system. In 1871, Juarez ran once more for the presidency. Since no candidate received a clear majority at the polls, the Mexican congress decided the issue by re-electing Benito Juarez as President.

Due to the many reforms, which Juarez put in place, he is sometimes called "The Lincoln Of Mexico."



Quotes by Benito Juarez

  • Among individuals, as among nations, peace is the respect of others' rights.
  • Entre los individuos como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz.
  • I think we all need to be more conscious of others and their rights in order to make life a little more co-operative.
  • It is given to men, sometimes, to attack the rights of others, to seize their goods, to threaten the lives of those who defend their nation, to make the highest virtues seem crimes, and to give their own vices the luster of true virtue. But there is one thing that cannot be influenced either by falsification or betrayal, namely the tremendous verdict of history. It is she who will judge us.
  • Let us direct all our efforts now to obtain and to consolidate the benefits of La Paz (Peace). Under its auspices, the protection of the laws and the authorities for the rights of all the inhabitants of the Republic will be effective. That the town and the government respect the rights of all. Between the individuals, like between the nations, the respect to the other people's right is La Paz.



Isoroku Yamamoto--Japanese


Hisaye Yamamoto
(1921-    )


Like many military men, Yamamoto was fond of writing poetry.  He continued his love of composing poems and practicing calligraphy throughout his military career.  Born in 1884, Yamamoto was Commander-in Chief of the Combined Fleet of the Imperial Navy during World War II.  He was a graduate of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy and an alumnus of the U.S. Naval War College and Harvard University.  During the time that Yamamoto held several important posts in the Japanese Navy he is most remembered for the development of Japan’s naval aviation capabilities.  Yamamoto was responsible for the battles at Pearl Harbor and Midway.  He died in 1943 while on an inspection tour in the Solomon Islands.  His transport aircraft was ambushed by an American fighter plane.  His death dealt a serious blow to the Japanese military force.

New Year's Day, 1940

Today, as chief
Of the sea guardians
Of the land of the dawn,
Awed I gaze up
At the rising sun.

I am still the sword
Of my Emperor
I will not be sheathed
Until I die.



Mitsuye Yamada--American



Mitsuye Yamada
(1923-    )

Born in Japan, in 1923, Mitsuye Yamada, grew up in Seattle, Washington.  She was incarcerated with her family in Idaho in 1942.  She and her brother were released from the camp when they renounced loyalty to the Emperor of Japan.  She began her studies at the University of Cincinnati in 1944 and completed her degree at New York University in 1947.  She earned a Master’s degree from University of Chicago in 1953.  Yamada’s first book, Camp Notes and Other Poems, addresses the internment of Japanese-Americans.  Desert Run: Poems and Stories, is another book work that speaks to how the Japanese were discriminated against during the war. 

"Cincinnati," in Camp Notes

Freedom at last
in this town aimless
I walked against the rush
hour traffic
My first day
in a real city

no one knew me.

No one except one
hissing voice that said
dirty jap
warm spittle on my right cheek.
I turned and faced
the shop window
and my spittle face
spilled onto a hill
of books.
Words on display.




poetry . . .has been my spiritual guide throughout 
my incarcerationin the darkest of times I turn
to Neruda and Hikmetand Rukeyser and Ritsas 
and Chrytos and Whitman. . .
                               – U.S. Political Prisoner

They mean to kill
the sentient being in me

White white
no poetry in
white floors walls ceiling white
white chairs tables sink white
only when I close my eyes do I see
beyond the white windowless walls
remembering springtime of
lacy trees lightly green against baby blue.

There is silence silence more silence
to drown out the incessant silence
I fill my inner ear with robinsongs
melodious and soothing
but how to quell deafening
nonhuman screeches and scrapes
sounds bouncing against the white walls?

Dull smells of dead air in the cell
but through the olfactory nerves
in my mind
I can tickle with the zest of lemon
and the sweetness of wildflowers.

Willfully bland diet aimed
to erase use of my tongue
Add a pinch of salt with the taste
of sweat or even of blood
anywhere on my body
Remembering the taste of cheese.

One human touch allowed
my own arms enfold me
my fingers move over my sagging breasts
my nipples and soft parts of my body

They mean to neutralize me but
poetry keeps me alive.



The Question of Loyalty

 If I sign this

What will I be?

I am doubly loyal

to my American children

also to my own people.

How can double mean nothing?

I wish no one to lose this war.

Everyone does.



Recruiting Team

Why should I volunteer?

I'm an American

I have a right to be





As we boarded the bus

bags on both sides

(I had never packed

two bags before

on a vacation

lasting forever)

the Seattle Times

photographer said


so obediently I smiled

and the caption the next day


Note smiling faces

a lesson to Tokyo.


Judith Wright--Australian


Judith Arundell Wright


Judith Arundell Wright was an Australian poet, environmentalist and human rights activist.  Born in 1915, Wright studied philosophy and history at the University of Sydney.  Wright’s first book of poetry, The Moving Image was published in 1946.   During this time she worked on the Australian literary magazine, Meanjin.  She was the first Australian to receive the Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry.  This award along with several others, The Robert Frost Memorial Award in 1977 and Australian World Prize in 1984, in particular speak to her place among Australian writers.  She died in 2000.

The Company of Lovers

We meet and part now over all the world;
we, the lost company,
take hands together in the night, forget
the night in our brief happiness, silently.
We, who sought many things, throw all away
for this one thing, one only,
remembering that in the narrow grave
we shall be lonely. 

Death marshalls up his armies round us now.
Their footsteps crowd too near.
Lock your warm hand above the chilling heart
and for a time I live without my fear.
Grope in the night to find me and embrace,
for the dark preludes of the drums begin,
and round us round the company of lovers,
death draws his cordons in.



Leo Vroman--Dutch/American


Leo Vroman
(1918-    )


Born in 1915, in Gouda, The Netherlands, Vroman is a poet and hematologist researcher.  He has several scientific papers to his credit.  Nonetheless, Vroman is known to his Dutch audience as a poet.  In fact, he has been famous as a poet since the publication of his poems in 1946.  He has won every notable Dutch literary prize possible.  When the Nazis occupied The Netherlands in 1940, Vroman fled to London, then to the Dutch East Indies.  After the Japanese occupied Indonesia he was interned and became a prisoner-of-war.  Following the war, he moved to New York and became a U.S. citizen in 1951.  Vroman is also known for his illustrations.  At 92, Vroman is a familiar figure on the speaking circuit presenting multi-media presentations drawing on his experience as a research scientist, poet and illustrator.

Psalm for Much Later

System, say that as time will flee
far past this eternity
no star, no dust, no light lives on
and, if You wish, You too are gone,

I still can ask right here and now
imprinted on this sheet and dried
so eternally: Why, how,
no, if it still pleases Thee we died?

If not, let us return some day
very different from before
and Who knows, I’ll try once more
some other way

Translated by Ko Kooman

Dylan Thomas--Welsh


Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas lived up to the saying from one of his works, “Do not go gentle into that good night.”  Referred to as a classic Welsh writer, Thomas displayed a lust for life, a comic wit, and a mastery of “the word.”  Many would go so far as to say that he is one of the greatest poets of our time.  Born in Wales in 1914, Thomas’ first book of poetry, Eighteen Poems, was published in 1934 to great acclaim.  Two years later he met Caitlin MacNamara, whom he married in 1938.  His second volume of poetry, Twenty-five Poems was released the same year.  The Map of Love and The World I Breathe were both published in 1939.  During World War II he worked for Strand Films.  In 1952, Collected Poems became the last book Thomas published.  He died at the age of 39th while on a lecture tour of the United States.

Ceremony after a Fire Raid                 


The grievers
Among the street burned to tireless death
A child of a few hours
With its kneading mouth
Charred on the black breast of the grave
The mother dug, and its arms full of fires.

With singing
Darkness kindled back into beginning
When the caught tongue nodded blind,
A star was broken
Into the centuries of the child
Myselves grieve now, and miracles cannot atone.

Us forgive
Your death that myselves the believers
May hold it in a great flood
Till the blood shall spurt,
And the dust shall sing like a bird
As the grains blow, as your death grows, through our heart.

Your dying
Child beyond cockcrow, by the fire-dwarfed
Street we chant the flying sea
In the body bereft.
Love is the last light spoken. Oh
Seed of sons in the loin of the black husk left.


I know not whether
Adam or Eve, the adorned holy bullock
Or the white ewe lamb
Or the chosen virgin
Laid in her snow
On the altar of London,

Was the first to die

In the cinder of the little skull,
O bride and bride groom
O Adam and Eve together
Lying in the lull

Under the sad breast of the headstone
White as the skeleton
Of the garden of Eden.

I know the legend
Of Adam and Eve is never for a second
Silent in my service
Over the dead infants
Over the one
Child who was priest and servants,
Word, singers, and tongue
In the cinder of the little skull,
Who was the serpent’s
Night fall and the fruit like a sun,
Man and woman undone,
Beginning crumbled back to darkness
Bare as the nurseries
Of the garden of wilderness.


Into the organpipes and steeples
Of the luminous cathedrals,
Into the weathercocks’ molten mouths
Rippling in twelve-winded circles,
Into the dead clock burning the hour
Over the urn of sabbaths
Over the whirling ditch of daybreak
Over the sun’s hovel and the slum of fire
And the golden pavements laid in requiems,
Into the bread in a wheatfield of flames,
Into the wine burning like brandy,
The masses of the sea
The masses of the sea under
The masses of the infant-bearing sea
Erupt, fountain, and enter to utter forever
Glory glory glory
The sundering ultimate kingdom of genesis’ thunder.



Among Those Killed In The Dawn Raid

Was A Man Aged A Hundred

When the morning was waking over the war
He put on his clothes and stepped out and he died,
The locks yawned loose and a blast threw them wide,
He dropped where he loved on the burst pavement stone
And the funeral grains of the slaughtered floor.
Tell his street on its back he stopped a sun
And the craters of his eyes grew spring shoots and fire
When all the keys shot from the locks, and rang.
Dig no more for the chains of his grey-haired heart.
The heavenly ambulance drawn by a wound
Assembling waits for the spade’s ring on the cage.
O keep his bones away from that common cart,
The morning is flying from the wings of his age
And a hundred storks perch on the sun’s right hand.




Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire,

of a Child in London

Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness


And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child's death.
I shall not murder
the mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London’s daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.



Jan Theuninck--Belgian


Jan Theuninck
(1954-    )


Though born after World War II in 1954, Jan Theuninck finds himself writing about the war and its aftermath.  A poet and minimalist painter with a strong interest in social and political issues, Theuninck writes under his own name as well as the pen-name, ORC, a name he uses in honor of Raoul Wallenberg.  Although Dutch is his mother tongue, he writes in French.  His work frequently appears in poetry journals and magazines internationally.

Stalag Zehn B

the feldwebel became a general

the camp doctor , a professor

and we the jews—it’s banal

we stayed jewish—no error .




wandering jew, damned jew

and no words on them are forbidden

suspected of crimes and treason

they have been put in jail

they have been tortured and murdered

in the name of an insane idea

and now - more than ever -

who is next, please ? 


Mauthausen 186

Stone by stone 

we made a step

Step by step 

we went to heaven.




the sun shines

on the dune

the bunkers hide 

the undesirable

all of them lose 

their innocence

lost blood 

on the beach

the sea...




 The real post-war power

is still the one of the "Uebermenschen"

and this "democracy" can't be realized

but on the back of the "Untermenschen" !


James Tate--American


James Tate
(1943-    )


One of the most famous World War II poems was written by someone who was born during the war and who never knew the father he wrote of in his poem, “The Lost Pilot.”  James Tate was born in Kansas City, Missouri in1943.  His father was killed on a combat mission over Germany when he was just five months old.  Tate’s first poetry collection, titled “The Lost Pilot” was published during his 22nd year, the same age at which his father died.  Tate is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the National Book Award.  His honors also include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.  He teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.


The Lost Pilot

    for my father, 1922-1944

Your face did not rot
like the others–the co-pilot,
for example, I saw him
yesterday. His face is corn-
mush: his wife and daughter,
the poor ignorant people, stare
as if he will compose soon.
He was more wronged than Job.
But your face did not rot
like the others–it grew dark,
and hard like ebony;
the features progressed in their
distinction. If I could cajole
you to come back for an evening,
down from your compulsive
orbiting, I would touch you,
read your face as Dallas,
your hoodlum gunner, now,
with the blistered eyes, reads
his braille editions. I would
touch your face as a disinterested
scholar touches an original page.
However frightening, I would
discover you, and I would not
turn you in; I would not make
you face your wife, or Dallas,
or the co-pilot, Jim. You
could return to your crazy
orbiting, and I would not try
to fully understand what
it means to you. All I know
is this: when I see you,
as I have seen you at least
once every year of my life,
spin across the wilds of the sky
like a tiny, African god,
I feel dead. I feel as if I were
the residue of a stranger's life,
that I should pursue you.
My head cocked toward the sky,
I cannot get off the ground,
and, you, passing over again,
fast, perfect, and unwilling
to tell me that you are doing
well, or that it was mistake
that placed you in that world,
and me in this; or that misfortune
placed these worlds in us.