We all know what will happen
If these ravens quit the Tower;
Strange to think these scavengers
Should hold such royal power –
To keep the crown from topple‘ing,
They’re crippled in one wing,
To fawn and clown for punters,
(All still peasants of the king.)
But you should be flying, Raven,
You should have flown,
For what cares a raven for propping-up thrones ?
Be mightier, Raven, than magpie or rook –
For the higher you fly, so the smaller we look.
We all know what will happen
If these ravens quit the Tower –
So much like us, they’re savaged
Just to keep the nobs in power.
They’re victim of Victorians,
They’re prisoners to lore –
If only they could bring them down,
And goad them “Nevermore !”
For you should be soaring, Raven,
You should be gone,
For what cares a raven for owners of swans ?
Be mighty, oh Raven, and help us stand tall –
For the higher you fly, so the further they fall.
The whole myth only started in Victorian times, and to this day these magnificaent birds are denied their natural instinct to fly for the sake of tourist pounds.
And thus the Lord saith until Satan
“Testest thou my great creation,
Tempt and trick and lead astray:
The Righteous shall refuse to play,
And know thy works and block thy game,
And firm upon the path remain”
The Devil thought and mused awhile,
Then broke into demonic smile,
And so with cunning, wrote a tome
Forged deep within his hellish home
With hints and winks and clues abound
To show itself corrupt, unsound.
For here was found a petty god
Who knew no mercy, spared no rod,
But set such rules upon His flock
Which He Himself would break and mock,
And kill His own as took His fancy;
Proud and jealous tyrant, He.
Alas, Old Nick does now succeed
Too well, as heretics still bleed,
And signs are begged from out the skies,
As morals spring derived from lies;
The Faithful, though, shall call absurd
This book, and not believe a word.
Nineveh and Babylon have crumbled into dust,
Carthage, Ur and Jericho are pillars in the sand;
Once they were such glories, true – bustling and august –
But now reduced to legends and faint markings on the land.
London, though, is still alive, still growing and unplanned,
Not like dead Persepolis, where only mem’ry roams.
Ephesus and Ashkelon are sinking, gust by gust.
Luxor, Thebes and Memphis, now preserved in ancient tomes,
Sumer, Sardis, Akkad and Knossos are unmanned.
London, though, is standing yet, and just as grim and grand.
Middle-aged, with stuccoed bays and stock-brick-golden domes;
Humble tracks now avenues, from Oxford Street to Strand,
Yet keeps forever youthful as it builds and fells its homes.
Many structures barely make a century’s employ,
Ere yet another edifice is raised upon its bones;
And so King’s Cross and Bishopsgate, and Knightsbridge and Savoy
Have thus by slow rebuilding changed their slates and paving-stones.
Once an early city stood, whose name we still enjoy,
But now that ancient London’s quite as lost as Kish and Troy.
The old man lay in bed and watched
His body eaten to decay.
How strong he’d been in his old day;
How weak he was today, how scotched.
How great his all-too-mortal fear,
How much he’d give for one more year;
He’d even sell his soul to get
To keep it in his body yet –
For even thought the end was near,
He longed to ante up for one last bet.
“Indeed ?” a voice replied at large
In answer to his silent thought.
“Perhaps the bargain you have sought
Can be arranged, and free of charge.
Yet not a miracle, alas,
But biologic working-class:
To give your soul an unfair bite,
I bring a little hope tonight –
For while it’s true all thing must pass,
It passes slower for those souls who fight !”
One day in our science class, we trooped out to the pond
And trawled our nets to haul a hoard from out the wet beyond.
We jamjarred up our specimens, our trove from out the deep,
And took our volunte‘ers back to have a proper peep.
The swimmers and the sediments were busy in their dance,
Or squished between the slides beneath our microscopic glance. Tadpoles and waterfleas, fresh-water shrimps, Algae and flatworms and dragonfly nymphs, Rotifers, water bears, snails by the score, Whilygigs, boatmen and duckweed galore.
But best of all, the hydra: the monster in our lake –
One day, or so the rumour went, it turns into a snake !
Hydra, hydra, Now that I’ve spied ya, I can’t decide what I love about you more: Your proof there’s a Zeus, or Your looks of Medusa ? Not hard to deduce you’re a snake down to your core.
Just think – an anaconda with a plethora of heads
To slither round the playing field and stalk the cycle sheds !
But Mrs Patrick told us no, the two did not equate,
For hydras were cnidarians, and snakes were vertabrates.
The former lacked a brain as such, and var’ous other parts –
(Though snakes, our teacher told us, were likewise not so smart,
And multi-headed mutants would attack their conjoined brothers)
But hydra bred asexually to be both spawn and mothers !
And better yet, they’d learned a trick for ageing without ageing
By morphing from their adult selves back to their childhood gauging –
So, rather like The Doctor, but with tentacles and stem.
I’d like to see old Herc attempt to kill off one of them !
They say you have a silent c Well, not with me ! Cknidarians, cknidarians, Aquatic antiquarians: Preserving ancient shapes and genes, Behold the mighty cknidarenes ! If only Greeks had known of you, Just think the myths that would ensue ! Instead, your polyps are maligned – Medusae, sure, but not the Grecian kind. Cknidarians, cknidarians, These water fairies dance about my mind.
It ain’t your fireman or soldier
Who risk the most to do their job.
Your real heroes, I told yer,
Are your bassists and strummers,
Your keyboards and drummers,
Your strutting party-dudes and your master bong-plumbers.
They’re ever alert and ever a-throb,
Just waiting for the call to rock the joint large,
Just waiting to save us from the numpties in charge,
Just waiting for the call from the downtrodden mob
To rescue us all from the bummers.
But the price is high, the fates are sprung –
Too many albums filled with the songs they never sung.
Too many sobbing fans recoiling at the haste
With which their idol’s promise was undone.
Too many, many bands atrophied by the waste,
Too many mothers lost their rebel son.
Recruited to the cause while they’re still within their teens,
They slave away for years in their thousand-dollar jeans,
With the hair and the teeth and the endless magazines.
They’re out there, dying too young;
Labour-market casualties, axemen unstrung.
Do they really hope to die before they get so old ?
Before they’re easy-list‘en‘ing gold,
Before the cramps have taken hold ?
Or do they think they’re better dead before their soul is sold ?
Before their shooting star has stalled,
Before they’re shagged-out, fat and bald ?
Sometimes living on, they cry, just makes the struggle cheaper.
To play the great gig in the sky, don’t fear he reaper.
Some won’t even make it to the twenty,
Many dead before the big three-oh.
Thus drop the mighty cognoscenti –
When ev’ry flight to Rio
Is another flight could crash,
And what else but on drugs
Can they find to chug their cash ?
And the groupies are exhausting,
And the booze is flowing plenty,
And their bodies suffer burn-out and the rash.
Thus the endless nights of forcing
Make their flesh all pocked and denty,
And suddenly their eyes have lost their flash.
Then when at last the blues hit town,
They gloom on up and come on down,
And find a noose to wear or vein to slash.
And early years, or so I hears, are diciest of all
As the Mayfruits of success will press the harvester to call.
But if they still kick ass at fifty,
Got no pension, ain’t so thrifty,
Gotta take another tour of duty – such a haul.
Sponging cronies, bootleg phonies, “Hello Montreal”,
Three-legged ponies, alimonies, drive them to the wall.
So what sets them so thrillingly upon a road so killingly,
And choose a trade so willingly that sees her children fall ?
Yet still you’re out there, gods divine,
With scream and shout.
Keep on flouting it for ev’ry single one of us,
Keep on pouting it for ev’ry single mug and wuss.
You’re always there, walking the line,
Just rockin’ out.
Keep on vaunting it for those of us who never can,
Keep on flaunting it and sticking it right to the Man,
Keep on party on and shine,
Just like it’s Nineteen Ninety-Nine.
For they can never undermine the peace and love that you began.
You’re always out there living it, living for us all –
And cos you are so superstar,
You lighten up our daily crawl –
You make it all alright by far, for us to be so small.
So rest in peace, and rest in rock, each fallen avatar –
Your life was brief, yet through our grief
Comes weeping your guitar.