But sooth is seyd, go sithen many yeres,
That “feeld hath eyen and the wode hath eres.”
– Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Knight’s Tale”
The old saying goes that fields have eyes
and forests ears; no secrets could be kept
for long in olden times: not murders,
robberies, infidelities, what have you.
All came to light eventually, justice
finally for the guilty, balance restored.
Would that it were so in Chaucer’s day
or in our own. Where should I begin?
Injustice is a fact of life. Ask
George Floyd, Emmett Till, Joe Hill,
Little Turtle, or Rebecca Nurse.
The list is endless, and keeps growing.
What to do? Give up? Play dead? I wish
I had a good answer. Whenever
students used to say, “That’s not fair,” I’d
ask them just what planet they imagined
they were living on. But that’s not fair.
I owe them something more than cynicism.
Still, they’ll find out soon enough that privilege
will, like dukes and earls, rape peasant girls
and get away with it, the poor man hanged
for stealing bread to feed his starving kids.
Ever was it so, and ever shall be. Broken-
hearted world without end. Amen.
– W.D. Ehrhart