Force

By Cecil Bødker

You can’t force them
to love one another,
and you can’t beat them into agreement,
or in solidarity
they will hate you,
so your son too
will have to learn to kill.

You can’t open their eyes
by force,
or they will fear you,
and their hearts will spark like flint.
Only your weaponless hands
can show them the path
to tolerance.

By Cecil Bodker, “Tvang” ©1956
Translated from Danish by Michael Goldman