There was a wall of wood and stone
that all could touch but none could own.
It rose up like a fortress made
to guard the village in the glade
and show the hungry their way home.
How old was it? No one knew;
but in its shade the stories grew:
tales of danger and disguise,
songs of heroes brave and wise,
forgotten fables learned anew.
Along the wall the children chased
each other round in fun and haste,
then paused to pick the berries red
that grew among its leafy bed,
‘fore back along the path they raced.
Old men went to the wall to pray
and thank the Lord for one more day:
to rest their bones in gentle shade,
and call to children when they strayed,
recalling days when they did play.
What hand did build it tall, and when?
That of God, or those of men?
And what lay past its skyward heights:
a paradise of strange delights?
None could answer, now as then.
A voice began to call for change,
the ancient ways to rearrange:
‘The other side we need to see
to grasp our divine destiny,
for only then can we be free.’
‘No longer shall we run and hide,
No old man’s laws or rules abide!
Let’s raise our hammers, tear it down—
so we can run for miles ‘round!
Our hope lies on the other side.’
The old warned of traditions tossed,
but they were frail; their words were lost.
The healthy could not break their swing—
too busy with the harvesting
to contemplate the unknown cost.
So hammers swung and stones rained down
until they hit the dusty ground.
The sun shone through where once had stood
a wall of blood and stone and wood,
but paradise was nowhere found.
Instead the people gasped in fright;
their eyes beheld a grisly sight:
a barren land where nothing grew,
but monsters leapt and demons flew,
as daytime blended into night.
The guilty perished in the jaws
of brutal beasts, but in their claws
the children young, and old men too
were gathered up as off they flew
with not a warning or just cause.
Then fathers wept and mothers cried,
too late to stop their town’s demise.
They patched the hole but not before
a hundred died and many more
were taken to the other side.
So listen close and listen fast;
respect the lessons of the past:
not every wall is to confine,
not every law a needless line,
but some to help true freedom last.