Arthur Hugh Clough (poet): ‘Say not the struggle naught availeth’

In June 2012, newly-elected MP and National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi quoted from this poem in an address to both Houses of Parliament in London. The poem was also used by Churchill to encourage America to join with Britain in World War 2.

The poem is by Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861) and is read by Tom O’Bedlam in his SpokenVerse channel on Youtube, with hundreds of other poems.

Tom O’Bedlam (Narrator):

Say not the struggle naught availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.

If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke conceal’d,
Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
But westward, look, the land is bright!




Aung San Suu Kyi: Address to Houses of Parliament, London, 2012

In June 2012, newly-elected MP and National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited the UK. In this clip she addressed the Joint Houses of Commons and Lords at Westminster Hall.

The transcript of Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech is original. The video is from Ronald Ellis’s website. You can also view a BBC version here.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Lord Speaker, Mr Speaker, Mr Prime Minister, My Lords, and Members of the House of Commons

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you here in this magnificent hall. I am very conscious of the extraordinary nature of this honor. I understand that there was some debate as to whether I would speak here in this splendid setting or elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster. I welcome that debate and discussion. It is what Parliament is all about.

I have just come from Downing Street. It is my first visit there, and yet for me it is a familiar scene. Not just from television broadcasts, but from my own family history. As some of you may be aware, the best-known photograph of my father, Aung San [ Wikipedia, Youtube], taken shortly before his assassination in 1947 was of him standing in Downing St with Clement Atlee and others with whom he had been discussing Burma’s transition to independence.

He was pictured wearing a large British military-issue greatcoat. This had been given to him by Jawaharlal Nehru en route to the UK to protect him against the unaccustomed cold. And I must say that not having left my tropical country for 24 years, there have been the odd moments this week when I have thought of that coat myself.

A couple of hours ago I was photographed in the same place where my father was photographed, together with Prime Minister David Cameron, and it was raining. Very British!

My father was a founding member of the Burmese Independence Army in World War 2. He took on this responsibility out of a desire to see democracy established in his homeland. It was his view that democracy was the only political system worthy of an independent nation. It is a view of course that I have long shared.

General Slim, commander of the 14th Army, who led the Allied Burmese campaign, wrote about his first encounter with my father in his memoir ‘Defeat until Victory.’ The meeting came towards the end of the war, shortly after my father had decided that the Burmese Independence Army should join forces with the Allies. General Slim said to my father “You’ve only come to us because we are winning.”

To which my father replied “It wouldn’t be much good coming to you if you weren’t!”

Slim saw in my father a practical man with whom he could do business. Six decades later, I strive to be as practical as my father was.

And so I am here, in part, to ask for practical help. Help as a friend and as an equal. In support of the reforms which can bring better lives and greater opportunities to the people of Burma who have been for so long deprived of their rights and place in the world.

As I said yesterday in Oxford, my country today stands at the start of a journey toward I hope a better future. So many hills remain to be climbed, chasms to be bridged, obstacles to be breached.

Our own determination can get us so far. The support of the people of Britain and of peoples around the world can get us so much further.

In a speech about change and reform, it is very appropriate to be in Westminster Hall, because at the heart of this process, must be the establishment of a strong, parliamentary institution in my own country.

The British Parliament is perhaps the pre-eminent symbol to oppressed peoples around the world of freedom of speech. I would imagine that some people here, to some extent, take this freedom for granted.

For us in Burma, what you take for granted, we have had to struggle for long and hard. So many people in Burma gave up so much, gave up everything in Burma’s ongoing struggle for democracy, and we are only now just beginning to see the fruits of our struggle.

Westminster has long set a shining example of realizing the people’s desire to be part of their own legislative process.

In Burma our parliament is in its infancy, having been established only in March 2011. As with any new institution, especially an institution which goes against the cultural grain of 49 years of direct military rule, it will take time to find its feet and time to find its voice.

Our new legislative processes, which undoubtedly are an improvement on what has gone before, are not as transparent as they might be.

I would like to see us learn from established examples of parliamentary democracies elsewhere, so that we might deepen our own democratic standards over time.

Perhaps the most critical moment in establishing the credibility of the parliamentary process happens before parliament even opens, namely the people’s participation in a free fair inclusive electoral process.

Earlier this year, I myself participated in my first election as a candidate. To this day however, I have not yet had the chance to vote freely in any election. In 1990 I was allowed to cast an advanced vote while under house arrest.
But I was prevented from contesting as a candidate for my party, the National League for Democracy. I was disqualified on the grounds that I had received help from foreign quarters. This amounted to BBC broadcasts that the authorities considered to be biased in my favour. What struck me most ahead of this year’s by-elections, was how quickly people in the constituencies around Burma grasped the importance of participating in the political process. They understood first hand that the right to vote was not something given to all. They understood that they must take advantage when the opportunity arose, because they understood what it meant to have that opportunity taken away from them.
During the years that I lived in the United Kingdom, I never had the right to vote myself. But I can remember, even during my university days, that I was always trying to encourage my friends to exercise their right to vote. It was never clear to me if they followed these instructions. But it was very clear to me even then that if we do not regard the rights we have, we run the risk of seeing those rights erode away.

To those who feel themselves to be somehow above politics I want to say that politics should be seen neither as something that exists above us, nor as something that happens beneath us, but something that is integral to our everyday existence.

After my marriage, I constantly preached my gospel of political participation to my late husband, Michael. I still distinctly recall the occasion when a canvasser knocked on the door of our Oxford home during an election campaign. Michael opened the door and when he saw the gentleman poised to deliver his campaign pitch, said “It’s no use trying to win me over. It’s my wife who decides how I should vote. She’s out now. Why don’t you come back later?”
The canvasser did come back later, mainly I think to see what a wife who decided how her husband should vote looked like.

It has been less than 100 days, since I together with my fellow National League for Democracy candidates was out on the campaign trail across Burma. Our by-elections were held on April 1st, and I conscious there was a certain skepticism that this would turn out to be an elaborate April Fool’s joke. In fact, it turned out to be an April of new hope.
The voting process was largely free and fair and I would like to pay tribute to President Thein for this and for his commitment and his sincerity in the reform process.

As I have long said, it is through dialogue and through cooperation that political differences can best be resolved, and my own commitment to this path remains as strong as ever.
Elections in Burma are very different to those in many more established democracies such as yours. Apathy, especially amongst the young, is certainly not an issue. For me, the most encouraging and rewarding aspect of our own elections was the participation in such vast numbers and with such enthusiasm of our young people. Often our biggest challenge was in restraining the crowds of university students, schoolchildren and flag-waving toddlers who greeted us on the campaign, blocking the roads throughout the length of towns.

The day before the elections, on the way to my constituency, I passed a hillock which had been occupied by a group of children, the oldest about 10 or 11, their leader standing at the summit holding the NLD flag.

The passion of the electorate was a passion born of hunger for something long denied.

Following Burma’s independence in 1948, our parliamentary system was of course based on that of the United Kingdom. The era became known in Burmese as the Parlimentary Era, a name which, by the mere necessity of its application, speaks of the unfortunate changes which followed.
Our parliamentary era, which lasted more or less until 1962, could not be said to have been perfect. But it was certainly the most progressive and promising period until now in the short history of independent Burma. It was at this time that Burma was considered the nation most likely to succeed in South East Asia. Things did not however go entirely to plan. They often don’t in Burma and indeed in the rest of the world.

Now once again we have an opportunity to re-establish true democracy in Burma. It is an opportunity for which we have waited many decades. If we do not use this opportunity, if we do not get things right this time around, it may be several decades more before a similar opportunity arises again.

And so it is for this reason that I would ask Britain as one of the oldest parliamentary democracies to consider what it can do to build the sound institutions needed to support our nascent parliamentary democracy.

The reforms taking place led by President Thein Sein are to be welcomed. But this cannot be a personality-based process. Without strong institutions this process will not be sustainable. Our legislature has much to learn about the democratization process, and I hope that Britain and other democracies can help by sharing your own experiences with us.

Thus far I have only spent a matter of minutes inside the Burmese Parliament when I took the oath as a new MP last month. I must say that I found the atmosphere rather formal. Men have to wear formal headgear. There is certainly no heckling. I would wish that over time perhaps we would reflect the liveliness and relative informality of Westminster. I am not unaware of the saying that more tears have been shed over wishes granted than over wishes denied.

Nevertheless, it is when Burma has its own satisfactory equivalent of Prime Minister’s Questions that we will be able to say that parliamentary democracy has truly come of age.

I would also like to emphasize the importance of establishing requisite parliamentary control over the budget.
In all this, what is most important is to empower the people, the essential ingredient of democracy. Britain is living proof that a constitution does not need to be written down to be effective. It is more important that a constitution should be accepted by the people, that the people feel it belongs to them, that it is not an external document imposed on them.

One of the clearly stated aims of my party, the National League for Democracy, is constitutional reform. [Burma’s] original constitution was drawn up following the meeting between my father Aung San and Clement Atlee here in London in 1947. This constitution may not have been perfect, but at its core was a profound understanding of and respect for the aspirations of the people.

The current constitution, drawn up by the military government in 2008, must be amended to incorporate the basic rights and aspiration of Burma’s ethnic nationalities. In over sixty years of independence Burma has not yet known a time when we could say that there is peace throughout the land.

At this very moment, hostilities continue between the Kachin forces and the state armed forces in the north. In the west, communal strife has led to the loss of innocent lives and the displacement of tens of thousands of hapless citizens. Since this speech was drafted, I’ve also heard that hostilities have resumed in the east of the country between Shan troops and the troops of the government.

We need to address the problems that lie at the root of conflict. We need to develop a culture of political settlement through negotiation and to promote the rule of law, that all who live in Burma may enjoy the benefits of both freedom and security.

In the immediate term, we also need humanitarian support for the many peoples in the north and west, largely women and children, who have been forced to flee their homes.

As the long history of the United Kingdom shows clearly, people never lose their need to preserve their national or ethnic identity. This is something which goes beyond, which supersedes economic development. And that is why I hope that in working for Burma’s national reconciliation, the international community will recognize that it is political dialogue and political settlement which must be given precedence over short term economic development.

If differences remain unresolved, if basic aspirations remain unfulfilled, there cannot be an adequate foundation for sustainable development of any kind – economic, social or political.

Britain has for so long, under successive governments, including the present Conservative /Liberal Democratic coalition, and the previous Labour government, been a staunch and unshakeable supporter of aid efforts in Burma. I hope that you can continue to help our country through targeted and coordinated development assistance. Britain has been until now the largest bilateral donor to Burma. It is in education in particular that I hope the British can play a major role. We need short-term results so that our people may see that democratization has a tangible positive impact on their lives.

Vocational training and creation of employment opportunities to help address Burma’s chronic youth unemployment are particularly important. Longer term, Burma’s education system is desperately weak. Reform is needed, not just of schools and the curriculum, and the training of teachers, but also of our attitude to education, which is too narrow and rigid.

I hope also that British businesses can play a role in supporting the democratic reform process, through what I have termed democracy-friendly investment. By this I mean investment that prioritizes transparency, accountability, workers’ rights, and environmental sustainability. Investment particularly in labor-intensive sectors when carried out responsibly and with positive intent, can offer real benefits to our people.

One test will be whether new players will benefit from the investment coming in. Britain has played an important role in facilitating the forthcoming visit next month of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Secretariat. I hope this will be the start of many similar initiatives in the month ahead.

It is through learning, while at Oxford, about two great British leaders, Gladstone and Disraeli, that I first developed my understanding of parliamentary democracy: that one accepts the decision of the voters; that the governing power is gained and relinquished in accordance with the desires of the electorate, and that ultimately everyone gets another chance.

These are things taken for granted here in Britain, but in 1990, the winner of the elections was never allowed even to convene parliament. I hope that we can leave such days behind us, and that as we look forward to the future, it will be the will of the people that is reflected faithfully in Burma’s changing political landscape.

This journey out of Burma has not been a sentimental pilgrimage to the past, but an exploration of the new opportunities at hand for the people of Burma. I have been struck throughout my trip by how extraordinarily warm-hearted and open the world has been to us.

To experience this first hand after so long physically separated from the world has been very moving. Countries that geographically are distant have shown that they are close to Burma in what really matters: They are close to the aspirations of the people of Burma. We are brought into proximity through our shared values, and no geographical distance, no human-made barriers can stand in our way.

During the years of my house arrest, it was not just the BBC and other broadcasting stations that kept me in touch with the world outside. It was the music of Mozart and Ravi Shankhar and the biographies of men and women of different races and religions that convinced me I would never be alone in my struggle. The prizes and honors I received were not so much a personal tribute as a recognition of the basic humanity that unites one isolated person to the rest of the world.

During our dark days in the 1990s, a friend sent me a poem by Arthur Hugh Clough. It begins – I think many of you will know it – Say not the Struggle Naught Availeth. I understand that Winston Churchill, one of the greatest parliamentarians this world has known, used this poem as a plea to the United States to step in against Nazi Germany.
Today I want to make a rather different point that we can work together, combining political wisdom from East and West to bring the light of democratic values to all peoples in Burma and beyond.

I will just read the final verse. (I was advised that the whole poem was far too long)

And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
But westward, look, the land is bright!

I would like to emphasize in conclusion that this is the most important time in Burma. That this is the time of our greatest need. And so I would ask that our friends both here in Britain and beyond participate in and support Burma’s efforts towards the establishment of a truly just and democratic society

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to address the members of one of the oldest democratic institutions in the world. Thank you for letting me into your midst. My country has not entered the ranks of truly democratic societies but I am confident that we will get there before too long.

With your help.

Therapist: You know, we have to stop….




Austin Powers: Tell us about your childhood

In this clip from the 1997 move ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,’ Mike Myers plays Doctor Evil describing his childhood to a therapy group

The transcript is from FilmSite.org, in its fascinating Best Speeches and Monologues section, and the video is from here.

Dr. Evil (Mike Myers)
Actually, the boy’s quite astute. I really am trying to kill him, but so far unsuccessfully. He’s quite wily, like his old man.

Scott: This is what I’m talking about.

Therapist: OK. Well, we’ve heard from you, Scott. Now you, tell us a little about yourself.

Dr. Evil: The details of my life are quite inconsequential.

Therapist: Oh no, please please. Let’s hear about your childhood.

Group: Yeah, Come on! Of course, Please! etc.

Dr. Evil: Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year-old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet.

My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes, he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament.

My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring, we’d make meat helmets.

When I was insolent, I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds – pretty standard, really. At the age of twelve, I received my first scribe.

At the age of fourteen, a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. At the age of 18, I went off to evil medical school. At the age of 25, I took up tap dancing. I wanted to be a quadruple threat — an actor, dancer…

Therapist: You know, we have to stop….




Prince Charles: June 2012: Your Majesty, Mummy

Prince Charles speaks at his mother Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations outside Buckingham Palace on June 5, 2012.

The transcript is from CNN and the video is from the ITV news Youtube channel.

Prince Charles Your Majesty, mummy.

I’m sure you would want me to thank on your behalf all the wonderful people who have made tonight possible. All the performers, the artists, the musicians, the comedians who made such jolly good jokes.

Gary Barlow for helping to make the whole thing possible…

And above all, all those remarkable technicians, all 600 of them behind the scenes, without which nothing would happen.

And if I may say so, Your Majesty, thank God the weather turned out fine…and the reason of course, is because I didn’t do the forecast.

Your Majesty, millions, we are told, dream of having tea with you. Quite a lot of people have very nearly had a picnic dinner with you in the garden of Buckingham Palace. The only sad thing about this evening is that my father couldn’t be here with us because unfortunately, he has taken unwell, but ladies and gentlemen, if we shout loud enough, he might just hear us in hospital…

Your Majesty, a Diamond Jubilee is a unique and special event. Some of us have had the joy of celebrating three jubilees with you. And I have the medals to prove it. And we are now celebrating the life and service of a very special person over the last 60 years.

I was 3 when my grandfather, King George VI, died and suddenly, unexpectedly, your and my father’s lives were irrevocably changed when you were only 26. So as a nation this is our opportunity to thank you and my father for always being there for us, for inspiring us with your selfless duty and service, and for making us proud to be British.

Proud at a time when I know how many of our fellow countrymen are suffering such hardship and difficulties. Proud to be lining the banks of the Thames in their millions, despite the rain and the cold, proud to be part of something as unique as the Commonwealth, which through your leadership has given us that essential sense of unity through diversity. So, Your Majesty, we offer you our humble duty, and with it three resounding cheers for her Majesty the Queen. Hip, hip

(Crowd): Hooray!

Hip, hip —

(Crowd): Hooray!

Hip, hip —

(Crowd): Hooray!




Mitt Romney, April 24, 2012: Campaign Speech: A better America begins tonight

Mitt Romney gave this campaign speech on April 24 after winning the Republican primaries in several states and becoming the Republican front-runner for the 2012 presidential election against Barack Obama.

This transcript of Mitt Romney’s speech is from foxnewsinsider.com, and the video is from therightscoop.com.

Mitt Romney:

Thank you Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York! And tonight I can say thank you, America. After 43 primaries and caucuses, many long days and more than a few long nights, I can say with confidence – and gratitude – that you have given me a great honor and solemn responsibility. And, together, we are going to win on November 6th!

We launched this campaign not far from here. A beautiful June day, on a farm, in New Hampshire. It has been an extraordinary journey.

Americans have always been eternal optimists. But over the last three and a half years, we have seen hopes and dreams diminished by false promises and weak leadership. Everywhere I go, Americans are tired of being tired, and many of those who are fortunate enough to have a job are working harder for less.

For every single mom who feels heartbroken when she has to explain to her kids that she needs to take a second job and won’t be home as often … for grandparents who can’t afford the gas to visit their grandchildren anymore … for the mom and dad who never thought they’d be on food stamps … for the small business owner desperately cutting back just to keep the doors open one more month – to all of the thousands of good and decent Americans I’ve met who want nothing more than a better chance, a fighting chance, to all of you, I have a simple message: Hold on a little longer. A better America begins tonight.

Tonight is the start of a new campaign to unite every American who knows in their heart that we can do better! The last few years have been the best that Barack Obama can do, but it’s not the best America can do!

Tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years and it’s the start of a new and better chapter that we will write together.

This has already been a long campaign, but many Americans are just now beginning to focus on the choice before the country. In the days ahead, I look forward to spending time with many of you personally. I want to hear what’s on your mind, hear about your concerns, and I want to learn about your families. I want to know what you think we can do to make this country better, and what you expect from your next President.

And I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I’ll start by talking about my wife Ann of course, and I’ll probably bore you with stories about my sons and my grandkids. I’ll tell you about how much I love the country, this extraordinary land, where someone like my dad, who grew up poor and never graduated from college, could pursue his dreams and work his way up to running a great car company. Only in America could a man like my dad become governor of the state where he once sold paint from the trunk of his car.

When I see you, I think I’ll tell you that you may have heard that I was successful in business. And yep, that rumor is true. But you might not have heard that I became successful by helping start a business that grew from 10 people to hundreds of people. You might not have heard that our business helped start other businesses, like Staples and Sports Authority and a new steel mill and a learning center called Bright Horizons. And I’d tell you that not every business made it and there were good days and bad days, but every day was a lesson. And after 25 years, I know how to lead us out of this stagnant Obama economy and into a job-creating recovery!

Four years ago Barack Obama dazzled us in front of Greek columns with sweeping promises of hope and change. But after we came down to earth, after all the celebration and parades, what do we have to show for three and a half years of President Obama?

Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? Have you saved what you needed for retirement? Are you making more at your job? Do you have a better chance to get a better job? Are you paying less at the pump?

You know, i the answer were “yes” to those questions, then President Obama would be running for re-election based on his achievements…and rightly so. But because he has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions, and distractions, and distortions. That kind of campaign may have worked at another place and in a different time. But not here and not now. It’s still about the economy …and we’re not stupid.

People are hurting in America. And we know that something is wrong, terribly wrong with the direction of the country.

We know that this election is about the kind of America we will live in and the kind of America we’re going to leave to future generations.

Now, when it comes to the character of America, President Obama and I have very different visions.

Government is at the center of his vision. It dispenses the benefits, borrows what it cannot take, and consumes a greater and greater share of the economy. With Obamacare fully installed, government will come to control half the economy, and we will have effectively ceased to be a free enterprise society.

This President is putting us on a path where our lives will be ruled by bureaucrats and boards, commissions and czars. He’s asking us to accept that Washington knows best – and can provide all.

We’ve already seen where this path leads. It erodes freedom. It deadens the entrepreneurial spirit. And it hurts the very people it’s supposed to help. Those who promise to spread the wealth around only ever succeed in spreading poverty around. Other nations have chosen that path. It leads to chronic high unemployment, crushing debt, and stagnant wages.

I have a very different vision for America, and of our future. It is an America driven by freedom, where free people, pursuing happiness in their own unique ways, create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans. And because there are so many enterprises that are succeeding, the competition for hard-working, educated and skilled employees is intense, and so wages and salaries rise.

I see an America with a growing middle class, with rising standards of living. I see children even more successful than their parents – some successful even beyond their wildest dreams – and others congratulating them for their achievement, not attacking them for it.

This America is fundamentally fair. We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; we will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends’ businesses; we will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.

In the America I see, character and choices matter. And education, hard work, and living within our means are valued and rewarded. And poverty will be defeated, not with a government check, but with respect and achievement that is taught by parents, learned in school, and practiced in the workplace.

This is the America that was won for us by the nation’s Founders, and earned for us by the Greatest Generation. It is the America that has produced the most innovative, most productive, and the most powerful economy in the world.

As I look around at the millions of Americans without work, the graduates who can’t get a job, the soldiers who return home to an unemployment line, it breaks my heart. This does not have to be. It is the result of failed leadership and of a faulty vision. We will restore the promise of America only if we restore the principles of freedom and opportunity that made America the greatest nation on earth.

Today, the hill before us is a little steep but we have always been a nation of big steppers. Many Americans have given up on this President but they haven’t ever thought about giving up. Not on themselves. Not on each other. And certainly not on America.

In the days ahead, join me – join me in the next step toward that destination of November 6th, when across America we can give a sigh of relief and know that the Promise of America has been kept. The dreamers can dream a little bigger, the help wanted signs can be dusted off, and we can start again.

And this time we’ll get it right. We’ll stop the days of apologizing for success at home and never again apologize for America abroad.

There was a time – not so long ago – when each of us could walk a little taller and stand a little straighter because we had a gift that no one else in the world shared. We were Americans. That meant something different to each of us but it meant something special to all of us. We knew it without question. And so did the world.

Those days are coming back. That’s our destiny.

You see, we believe in America. We believe in ourselves. Our greatest days are still ahead. We are, after all, Americans!

God bless this great nation, God bless the United States of America, and God bless you good people.