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Poet’s corner: ‘Patience’

By Alex Williams

Humanism finds itself in something of a trap in terms of public image. On the one hand, tolerance for different beliefs and respect for secular values (both things I prize) can leave us reluctant to criticise ideas we consider nonsense, preferring to remain silent rather than be seen as impolite. On the other hand, we have a responsibility to the public discourse to push forward our own point of view, which prioritises science, reason and compassion over ancient texts, authority and dogma. This can place us in a bit of a bind, balancing the conflicting demands of the public image we want to curate. This poem explores that conflict with a touch of exasperation.


Why must I be patient

When they damn my soul to hell?

Why must I nod benignly

And pretend that all is well?

Why must I be tolerant

When they claim I live in sin?

Or bear their grand self-righteousness

With a meek forgiving grin?

The truth is I mustn’t

I mustn’t

I mustn’t

The truth is I mustn’t

I mustn’t

I mustn’t

Alexander Williams is a writer, teacher and singer from Watford. His collection of poems Secular Verses is now published and available on Amazon. Click the link to help support his work. More details of his books and singing events can be found at

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