Tony Walton

Rookie (4 March 1950 / London, England)

Neda - Poem by Tony Walton

Neda, you played a part
greater than the one you intended.
You wanted what was broken to be mended
by the peaceful protest you almost attended;
but the sniper's bullet tore out your heart,
and your voice calling is now a new start
in a struggle that will not be easily ended.

Neda, your death made a blade
that strikes at the heart of a startled regime;
and your voice calling, as you were falling,
I'm burning! I'm burning! is the start of a turning
in the people's parade that won't ever fade
until all of their yearning is made good
and their dream of brotherhood is realised.

The clerics' repression is deeply despised,
and the strength of the protest has them surprised
and shaken. Perhaps now they have realised
that they were mistaken to have taken
so much for granted. The people's demand is chanted
in the streets and from the rooftops. It never stops,
defying the armed response, regardless
of how many more may be dying too.

Your death made a difference, Neda.
Don't be afraid, said your dear friend Hamid
as he knelt by your side in the pool of your blood.
Stay with me, he said, as you slipped away.
And you will stay, yes, for you have no choice.
Your voice will always continue to sing,
and the message of hope for their freedom you bring
to your people will fire their desire to a flood.
They will never tire, and your name will inspire
Truth on the wing, so that no evil thing
can ever conspire to defeat them or cheat them.
Your example will complete them, Neda.
Don't be afraid for them. You have made for them
a debt that can only be repaid when Iran
is finally free, in honour of your memory.


Poet's Notes about The Poem

On 20th June 2009, at around 6.30 p.m., Neda Agha-Soltan was sitting in her car in traffic on Karghar Avenue in the Iranian capital Tehran. She was accompanied by her music teacher and close friend, Hamid Panahi, and two other people. They were on their way to participate in the peaceful protests against the apparently fraudulent outcome of the recent presidential election, declared in favour of the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Still some distance from where the main protest was underway, they then got out of the car because the air-conditioning was malfunctioning. Neda was standing watching the sporadic protests in the area when she was shot in the chest by a militia man on the roof of a civilian house.
She died on the way to hospital, aged twenty-six.
Nedā in Persian means ‘voice' and ‘vocation'.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, August 24, 2012

Poem Edited: Friday, August 24, 2012


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