Archive for April, 2013

 1

Alciabades

i

Pisander in Athens, in time of war

with armsful of presents (labelled ‘If’,

labelled ‘Trust Me’, ‘Guaranteed’),

 

says: “Alciabades …”,  (whoa, place him later – )

“…should be recalled, and the democratic

whatyoucallit, bodypolitic

thingy…” – (slight misdirection) – “… you know,

the constitution,  changed…”  (madness, surely)…

 

but they were counting off, like he was

on fingers – how they loved newfangleness –

now placed his, and they with him, this point, thus,

–  the sophist’s snake in the attic vase – this Then:

“…then they would have the king their ally.”

 

(Read: Paymaster, and read: Buy Me, Cheap;

read Desperate, Patched, and Thin.)

 

ii

Though Phrynichus, intrigued against intriguer,

said Alciabades cared little for cause

so long as he was recalled: democracy, oligarchy…

–  what we were free to do, what we were bound to do …

 

and how he feared the discovery of his inability,

and how that was what woke him constantly.

 

But no one listened nor wanted knowledge,

only peace, and so Phrynichus, the worn

and compromised rag that was their conscience,

readied himself for the assassin’s knife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

Cromwell

i

“That we may understand really

the bottom of our desires…” …

“…not just plausible and good things

but seasonable and honest…”…

“…what we were, where we are,

what we were bound to do, what we are free to do….”

he paused, for he understood, then,

desires can change.

And when offered the crown

“…three times he put it by, each time

a little more reluctantly…”

I noticed this.

“Time was we had not boggled at this word.”

he said. To kill a king is no newfangleness.

ii

The Divine Rights of Kings – and of assassins;

Pascal’s Provincial Letters, their quiet reading,

subversively plots out the reasoning –

like a knot garden, a quiet strength

in the midst of tumult, where God

is the repository of conscience, and conscience

the true measure of action.

When God is wrenched out of gesture

let conscience be questioned

I would like to think

by each cut, slash… despatch.

iii

Naseby Hill, and the King coming on

from before, Prince Rupert from the right –

auxiliaries challenged their phalanx

and it broke.

How many stumbled, caught, vulnerable, died

in that garden, the rabbit warren

they charged across? The underground chambers

palpitating with life.

 

 

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OLD EMPIRE

Posted: April 6, 2013 in Chat
Tags:

The refurb on the Regal Ballroom was done with the wrong shade,

using youthful and dynamic hues. It should be faded glory.

The tale it is telling the world of supplements, glossy mags

is now of the primped and preened, when its real story

is one all recognise: decline, and old grandeur; the rags

of State and empire, that still adhere in a place like this:

the peeling  of frescoes, gilt  cornices; the loss of prestige, trade.

 

The Jubilee Line rattles the foundations; a dust ghost

with glinting buttons, bayonet, in auditorium, on stairs.

The ballroom built over previous habitations; it replaced

a minor palace, Girls’ Academy. From those stairs

we watched the building of our dream of State, and how we placed

ourselves within it; both pros and cons raised in one toast.

 

Doorway sleepers choose here for the warm draughts at night;

that they are here at all is still appalling: ‘The homeless,’

we now say, ‘are always with us.’; cite this as right.

How all now sleep in the glow from old warmth, alone;

the half-life of old empire continues to light us

long after it’s left us. ‘Dead is the right of might!’, we blithely recite.