About 15 years ago I read a popular history (in the sense of popular science, not popular politics) of the 20th century which includes a short poem that I believe went as follows:

What have we not done for this country?
Some of us gave speeches;
Others gave our lives.

This poem has stayed with me for years and I would like to know the name of its author. I can no longer remember the name of the book I read it in, and Google has been unhelpful in finding a source.

I remember the poem was translated from its original language and believe the poet was Hungarian, though I'm not 100% sure about that. It was definitely written in the 20th century and it is definitely from a country that was behind the iron curtain. Please help!

1 Answer 1


The great Turkish poet Orhan Veli Kanık wrote so neatly on the “great Turkish lies” more than half a century ago:

“What have we not done for this country? Some of us have orated Some of us have died.”

Source: Why ‘fair’ is just a four-letter word in Turkish (Hürriyet Daily News).

  • Great find, thanks! Have to admit I prefer the translation I remember more though... it's the repetition of "gave" that has always impacted me.
    – Jessica
    Jul 10, 2018 at 10:01

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