Rosa and the Water Buffalo

When Rosa gazed through prison bars to street
She saw the water buffalo which drove
The heavy coated cart on cloven feet
And when they could not pull their weighty load
Their master turned his whip and beat and strapped
Until they bled and flinched and hauled and strained
The final yards, their last resources sapped
And stood, defeated, bloodied, sad and pained
Now, Rosa Luxemburg was tough, you know
But when she saw those water buffalo
Their strength enslaved and shackled to a yoke
Their hide all bruised and torn, their spirit broke
She saw the punished child and labour’s life
The cattle were her comrades in their strife


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When Rosa Luxenburg was in prison for her socialist activities, she saw and empathised with captured water buffalo who were being used to pull heavy carts into the prison. This anecdote is included in Kate Evans’ graphic biodgraphy, ‘Red Rosa’, from which these illustrations are taken (with permission). You can buy this most excellent book directly from Kate, here.


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