Text of the Poem

If we must die—let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die—oh, let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!

Oh, Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe;
Though far outnumbered, let us still be brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but—fighting back!


  1. Using this word and never specifying who the hogs/kinsmen are (though historical context would have readers believe that the hogs are the Black people who were victims of the 1919 race riots that happened across the United States) keeps the poem more relatable to all oppressed people.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. This line starts using the anaphora, “if we must die,” but it breaks away from the first line in its second half. Not only are the speaker and his people not going to die like animals, but they are going to die for a reason. They will put up such a strong fight and be seen as heroes.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. Hog is an interesting word choice because the simile implies that the oppressed people are not only animals but animals that are raised to be slaughtered for human consumption.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. This poem is a Shakespearean sonnet (ABAB format) that uses traditional iambic pentameter.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor