Friday, 1 June 2012

Bah, jubilee humbug.

Nothing but versatile, I'll follow my previous post about brilliant No. 1 singles with a bit of poetry to mark the Jubilee. Given my hard left republican (and Republican) sympathies, you'll not be too surprised at my antipathy towards the royals. Not just British royals, mind you: all of them. If only Cromwell hadn't spent so much time murdering the Irish he'd be in my pantheon. I guess Winstanley will have to do. I'm a citizen of a Republic: if I persuade enough people, I could be President. Whereas here, I'm afraid I'll have to stage a violent coup, which is such hard work. Just running the inevitable camps will take up half my time. 

As I may have mentioned recently, I was appalled to discover that the new patron of the School Games is prince Harry. What a way to miss the point: inspire kids to work their damnedest to achieve their goals… by putting a man who inherited wealth and position at their head. 

Anyway, here's a poem from a part of the world the British have forgotten. Remember: while you lot swig Pimms and wave flags for a weekend, Ulster Loyalists live it day in, day out. They really mean it. How I wish they didn't. 

This is 'Wounds', by Michael Longley. 

Here are two pictures from my father’s head—
I have kept them like secrets until now:
First, the Ulster Division at the Somme
Going over the top with ‘Fuck the Pope!’
‘No Surrender!’: a boy about to die,
Screaming ‘Give ’em one for the Shankill!’
‘Wilder than Gurkhas’ were my father’s words
Of admiration and bewilderment.
Next comes the London-Scottish padre
Resettling kilts with his swagger-stick,
With a stylish backhand and a prayer.
Over a landscape of dead buttocks
My father followed him for fifty years.
At last, a belated casualty,
He said — lead traces flaring till they hurt —
‘I am dying for King and Country, slowly.’
I touched his hand, his thin head I touched.
Now, with military honours of a kind,
With his badges, his medals like rainbows,
His spinning compass, I bury beside him
Three teenage soldiers, bellies full of
Bullets and Irish beer, their flies undone.
A packet of Woodbines I throw in,
A lucifer, the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Paralysed as heavy guns put out
The night-light in a nursery for ever;
Also a bus-conductor’s uniform—
He collapsed beside his carpet-slippers
Without a murmur, shot through the head
By a shivering boy who wandered in
Before they could turn the television down
Or tidy away the supper dishes.
To the children, to a bewildered wife,
I think ‘Sorry Missus’ was what he said.

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