The multinational multitudes of lookers
Watchers, neck-craners, trinket-buyers,
And photograph-takers trample cigarette butts on the
Hallowed cobblestoned streets of history
Reaching, vying, gawking, buying,
Trying to take away a piece for themselves.
Yet they donīt comprehend, or try to
Contemplate the meaning of the places
Or the determination on the faces
Of the throngs and masses
Who stood on the very same spaces
And cried out for freedom despite
The barrel of a rifle or the flames of a torch.
Jan Hus stood in a raging whirlwind of hypocrisy
And refused to bend, would not rescind.
Though his convictions were labeled heresy,
He stuck to them and was burned at the stake.
And just a decade ago on Wenceslas Square,
How many non-Czechs are even aware
That Vaclav Havel and an ocean of youth
Screamed "You may have guns, but we have the Truth!".
Their hope, defiance, and righteous determination
Toppled an unstoppable regime,
Dismantled an unbreakable machine,
Succeeding where their parents had failed...
Whose hopes and dreams were crushed beneath
The treads of tanks, drowned out by screams.
Beaten but not defeated, that hopeful generation,
Subjugated once again, passed on
Their inspiration for a peaceful revolution.
How proud they must have been...
What a sense of elation,
To watch their children succeed
In building a brand new nation.
Such a proud city with such a sad story,
Now happy endings, fresh beginnings,
And newfound glory all merely lay the foundation
For a McDonaldīs and KFC infestation,
And Southpark Matrioshka dolls,
Leading to near-complete cultural obliteration.
Prague, majestic and ever-lasting,
Reduced to one, giant shopping mall,
Packed with consumers oblivious to the meaning of it all.

(C) 2002 Hylo Bates

By the way...just to clarify, I wrote this including myself in the ranks of the tourists. Iīm not haughtily suggesting that I even begin to comprehend the power of the city around itīs not like Iīm saying "Well, I get it, but no one else does." Also, this was done without any kind of spell-check (itīs in Czech on this computer), so pardon the typos.