To celebrate my first birthday tomorrow, there will be an extra-long poem to wade through. Indulge me.
The Bland & The Brutal
This macho rejection of beauty as quaint,
We bask in the ugly in building and paint;
Those worlds of the graceful and subtle all fade,
We cannot return back because we’re afraid.
Voltaire never said it,
But that matters not a mite –
He meant it, to his credit,
And he calls on us to fight.
The words may change, but we all know them,
Paraphrased through many pleas –
When times are tough, it’s time to show them,
Speshly to our enemies:
“I cannot stand the crap you spew,
I find you ignorant and vile –
But I will pitch my life for you,
To keep you free to spread your bile.”
We do not have to like it,
But by deuce! we must allow it !
Let us strike at those who’d strike it,
Vow to never disavow it.
(Except perhaps when it’s horrific
Vi’lence that’s incited there –
But then those times must be specific,
And they must be bloody rare !)
So however hard they’re hitting,
We must build our hearts of granite –
Though we’re still, of course, permitting
Ev’ry speech that calls to ban it.
Rights aren’t only for the nice,
Or those with better words and clout –
So come on now and tell us twice,
And we shall smile and tune you out.
So say it with me, all of you,
And say it always, come what may –
So Voltaire never said it, true,
But we shall say it, ev’ry day !
Not saying I think strikers are ‘ignorant and vile’ – I just like the painting’s mood of conflict and speech.
Arrays in Grace
These forests grow like chequer-boards,
Their heads are said to lowly growl –
The sea will lash their thousand bolts,
As slowly twists each triple-swords
To whisk the wind and steal its howl
For milling watts and grinding volts.
Yours are the breaks
And ev’ry advantage,
The lowest of stakes
For the richest rewards.
Handed the world,
As you took it for granted:
Benighted and Earled
As miladies and lords.
It’s sad but it’s true
That we’ve little democracy,
You’re all that we’ve got
To break your own power.
We’re looking to you,
The old aristocracy:
Excise the rot,
And descend from your tower.
For better or worse, you are,
Blessing and curse, you are,
When ennobled and crowned.
But leave it behind, will you
Open your mind, will you,
We can reach common ground.
Surely it’s common sense ?
History teaches us
Not be the leaches,
Or sponges or midges.
Give up your influence !
Give up your privilege !
Let’s not mend fences;
Instead, let’s build bridges.
Don’t be a traitor
Betraying your nation,
For we are your nation:
Each pilot and waiter.
So be a creator
Who levels the score,
To make Britain greater
Than ever before.
For better or worse, come on,
Balance your purse, come on,
For each corgi and glove.
Pay back your debt, my friends,
Pay back in sweat, my friends;
This is no threat,
But a chance to show love.
Break with your ranks,
And roll up your sleeves,
Where ev’ryone cranks,
And ev’ryone heaves,
Where ev’ryone plays,
And ev’ryone learns,
As ev’ryone pays,
And ev’ryone earns.
Come quarrying stones,
Or burying bones,
Or manning the phone-lines,
Or polishing brass.
Come digging the spuds,
Or squeeging the suds,
Regardless of bloodlines,
Regardless of class.
For better and worse, we are,
Plumber and nurse, we are,
And yet wholly alike.
Won’t you engage with us,
Sharing your stage with us ?
Open our cage,
And then turn up the mic.
For richer or poorer,
In grandeur and squalor,
In blue and white collar,
Let’s see the day won.
Whatever the weather,
In ev’ry endeavour:
Let’s shoulder together
To get the job done.
Open our swimming pools, open our shopping malls,
Hold no opinion and smile at the crowd.
That’s what you’re paid for, so you can’t complain;
Walking and waving, that’s all you’re allowed.
We care what you think, just never express it;
Never forget that your shame ain’t our prob.
The good and the bad and the downright carbuncle,
Open them gladly or get a new job.
Heaven & Earth
There is wonderment more in the Kingdom of Heaven
Than all of the glories on all of the Earth;
The colours are brighter, the music is sweeter,
Forever and perfect and never in dearth.
There is beauty and love in the Kingdom of Heaven
Far greater than ever we know on this Earth –
But strange how the holy are nervous to claim it,
And dawdle below to delay their next berth.
There is marvel enough in the Kingdom of Heaven
To fill up a thousandfold worlds with its mirth –
Or so it is promised, and why should we doubt it,
Inspite how we cling to all life all it’s worth.
But I can wait long for the Kingdom of Heaven
To sup on this world from its poles to its girth.
There may be a paradise waiting in Heaven,
There’s surely a paradise thriving on Earth.