Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Adrian Mitchell: "Human Beings"

                look at your hands
    your beautiful useful hands
                you’re not an ape
            you’re not a parrot
    you’re not a slow loris
        or a smart missile
            you’re human

            not british
        not american
            not israeli
    not palestinian
        you’re human

            not catholic
    not protestant
        not muslim
            not hindu
    you’re human

    we all start human
        we end up human
            human first
                human last
            we’re human
        or we’re nothing

    nothing but bombs
        and poison gas
    nothing but guns
        and torturers
    nothing but slaves
    of Greed and War
    if we’re not human

                    look at your body
    with its amazing systems
    of nerve-wires and blood canals
        think about your mind
    which can think about itself
        and the whole universe
            look at your face
    which can freeze into horror
            or melt into love
        look at all that life
            all that beauty
            you’re human
        they are human
        we are human
    let’s try to be human


"Human Beings" by Adrian Mitchell, from The Shadow Knows: Poems 2000-2004 (Bloodaxe Books, 2004). Text as published on the website of Poetry International.

Video credit: "The T-Mobile Welcome Back," video by Life's for Sharing, uploaded to YouTube on 10/29/2010. Note: This is a promotional video, but its presentation here isn't an endorsement of any product or company.

Poet photograph credit: Billy Fox (digitally altered by curator).


  1. The line ....think about your mind which can think about itself.... has me mesmerised

  2. A magnificent address to people in general. They are free to define themselves, not use labels, 'Catholic', 'Protestant' and others. So great to read the words onscreen.

  3. We need this poem now more than ever, as the Ukraine War drags on and the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza rages. Be human.


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