Poems of Liberty and Human Rights

Louis Janmot: Poem of the Soul / The Flight of the Soul (1854) // Public domain

Poems. Not the coolest word to start an article with. Too often does the word conjure up images of harrowing moments in school when we had to anxiously recite some poetry not understanding why the tacky lines matter at all. Yet, trust me, they do.

It is maybe a sin against poems that they are forcibly taught in school, because their aim is to bestow emotions on us, not to bore us. They convey love, anger, joy, misery, they inspire, mourn, motivate, sooth, make us laugh or cry.


It might come as no surprise that the poets, who can play with such emotions, and are rational enough to structure words in a symphony of rhymes, were often liberal or wrote about liberal thought.

For this reason the European Dialogue Program of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and the Hungarian Free Market Foundation decided to publish the Poems of Liberty, Human Rights Edition on December 10, Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The publication presents poems by the married couöle, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, both famous poets and liberals in their own rights. Robert Browning’s famous poem explains while being a liberal means aspiring for freedom and equality, while Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote against the horrors of slavery.

The edition also contains excepts form Oscar Wilde who was sent to prison for being gay. Other beautiful poems include a Hungarian and a Polish poet as well, and the publication is made visually exciting by wonderful illustrations.

Human rights were important to a lot of poets and it was a difficult task to select only a handful of them to showcase human rights issues. Every poem is accompanied by a short essay explaining the poem and its relevance to certain human rights issues, and their importance today.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a victory for liberals, and for all humankind, regardless of nationality, ideology, or identity. Yet, there is a lot to do still. Modern day slavery is still very much present, as well as atrocities against minority groups of all sorts. Racism and antisemitism still pose great threats to our society as well as.

The aim of the Poems of Liberty, Human Rights Edition is to educate people through poems on the importance inherent nature of human rights, as well as to inspire people to do more in furthering and protecting them.

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