The Rebel and the Revolutionary

TEDxUCLWomen Momentum, Poetry Leave a Comment


When asked how she managed to maintain momentum throughout all these years of activism, and not be frustrated by lack of change, Ang Swee pulled out a USB from her jacket and read out this poem, that was written by her husband.  The poem, is from the chapter of her book, “Life with Francis.”

“One of Francis’ most beautiful and encouraging poems is called The Rebel and the Revolutionary. It is a poem which constantly helps me to see beyond hopeless situations and stay the course.​”


a rebel hates
a revolutionary loves
a rebel hates injustice
a revolutionary loves justice

a rebel negates
a revolutionary creates
a rebel reacts
a revolutionary acts

a rebel divides
a revolutionary unites
a rebel says :
‘my rights’
a revolutionary :
‘our duties’

a rebel attacks
the singer
and is deaf to the song
a revolutionary retrains
the singer
and rewrites the song

a rebel sees red
all vision blinkered
by the burning grass
a revolutionary sees
the wondrous colours
that is the rainbow
which follows the deluge
which quells the flames

for a revolutionary knows
where promises lie
when hopes are false
how rage is disciplined
why the grass has roots

a rebel asks ‘why?’
a revolutionary, ‘why not?’

a revolutionary is an individual
but never individualistic
is sometimes alone
but never lonely

a rebel perceives
the winter
of today
a revolutionary conceives
the spring
for tomorrow

for tomorrow shall dawn
dreams will come true
the nightmare will end
when a rebel
into a revolutionary

– Francis Khoo 1987

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