Each time I raise my gaze to the night sky,
A million stars stare back, shedding happy tears of light.
And I cannot but stare back in delight,
Wondering which one of them holds your great soul.
Tell me, Old Nelson, do they–these stars–still shine upon you?
Heaven should grant that they do;
For like them your example still shines upon us, pointing to us
the true north of life–
And, oh yes, this one great lesson: that life’s struggles will endure
our stumbles but never our mumbles.
Yes! Our hopes may fall and our fortunes dip, but on their feet our
voices must keep.
Twenty-seven years did rough chains bind your feet,
And twenty-seven years did they girdle your breast,
But not once–never–did they bind your voice.
“Only free men can negotiate,” you scoffed at your jailers, scorning to
barter your ideals for your freedom;
And to that crooked Boer court: “A free South Africa is the ideal for which
I live, and if need be it is the one ideal for which I will die.”
Then to a bleeding, seething nation: “Let’s break with the past.”
From the flesh of these words a new nation was carved
For white, brown, and black alike.
Twinkle for twinkle it matches the skies,
And in its bosom you now rest forever–quiet, contented, victorious!