A Poem dedicated to JRS

11 July 2014

Above: The Parents – Woodcut by Kathe Kollwitz(1867-1945)

The following poem titled ‘Refugees’ is written by Fr Patrick Purnell SJ, especially for JRS. The poet gives us a vivid picture of refugees with a dignified voice despite their agonising situations.


by Patrick Purnell SJ

Stealthily, we moved from the edges,

Drawn by dreams of plenitude,

Leaving our homes at the margins

Of the deserted flatlands,

Where nothing grows

And what we had of wheels and cogs

Grow rust and harbour cobwebs.

It was fear that urged us on,

Hacking at our hearts,

Fear of the demented power,

That fed upon its own illusions

And cut the naval string

Which bound us to our Tribal Story.

We were stripped at gunpoint

At the precise point of intersection

Between what passed as frontier of the


We carry nothing with us

But the golden memories

Of a love that had once

Bound us together as a people,

The incense of a gifted race

Which had ministered a fruitful land for a thousand years

And we carry, like a sacrament,

The myrrh of our Nation’s woundedness

In which is mixed the wisdom of our ancestors.

This is who we are.

These are our gifts,

As we stand before your walls

And if this is not enough

To gain entry to your land,

Let the sun come down

Upon our dry bones

And the moon carve us a grave.

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Jesuit Refugee Service UK
The Hurtado Jesuit Centre
2 Chandler Street, London E1W 2QT

020 7488 7310

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