Excerpt for an Improvised Speech by Robert F. Kennedy

Post Series: Poetry Thursday

This poetry Thursday, I am sharing a quote rather than a formal poem. I was moved by a story I heard about Robert F. Kennedy’s improvised speech from the back of a pickup truck in Indianapolis, an hour or two after he learned that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed. The heart of his remarks was his memory of a favorite line by the Greek tragedist Aeschylus. He used the following words as a bridge, to connect the grief of the mostly black crowd with his own struggles in the aftermath of his brother’s recent assassination:

“Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

-Aeschylus, as quoted from memory by RFK on April 4th, 1968

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