Canto 20: Revolutionaries

If they would meet us now for our kinsfolk
High on the hilltop lets raise our ramparts
Carry out faces over the shield rims
Raise up our spears, men, over our heads
& set upon Fflam Ddwyn in the midst of his hosts
& slaughter him, ay, & all that go with him

Taliesin


 

Catherine the Great

Namore should Europe fear the Muslim march,
The dreaded dengue Istanbul beswoons,
Her ageing & plague-drench’d triumphal arch
More insubstantial than a shift of dunes;
The crescent furl’d,
Conquest consign’d to shelves,
Leaving the western world to war among themselves.

But first an empire must dissolve,
As the days brown orange peel,
Tsarina shows Ceasar’s resolve
With a Cleopatran zeal,
Her Turkish question bids to solve,
& territories steal –
But first her navy to Chios would flow
& seize Aegean harbours from the foe.

Russia rose in gargantua,
Walks a world collossus,
Moldavia, Wallachia
Annex’d victorious,
“Fight for your contree,’ Cath’rine chants, “& make us glorious!”

Russia
1774


 

American Revolution

Liberty is the watchword of the wise,
Breeding-ground of modernist progression,
But skeleton keys fall not from the skies,
Freedom rarely won without agression;
Paul Revere peers
Thro’ hazy salmon sun,
The enemy appears, rebellion begun.

“… are coming, the British are coming!”
As militiamen bare arms,
They run t’wards rythmical drumming
Thro’ the thickets & the farms,
Soon the Redcoats boasts sent shtumming
& when the battle calms,
The township of Concord all smoke & flame –
Old world, new world, its all the bloody same.

As Fort Ticonderoga falls
& Bunker Hill was fought
The fight appals, hot musketballs
Break bones & pierce the throat,
The ‘Continental Congress’ calls Europa for support.

Philadelphia
1775


 

Declaration of Independence

As congressmen in converse shall resume,
Whose raison d’etre citizens shall free
From frightful servitude, in this assume
The right to forge their own identity,
Jefferson drafts
Demands, them soon endorsed
By squiggly autographs, King George abjur’d, unhors’d!

‘We hold these truths self-evident
All men created equal,
Our great Creator on them meant
Rights unalienable
That, with community consent,
Upon this principle,
All governance men may freely alter
When, in government, their leaders falter.

Such is the state these Colonies,
Suffer ‘neath Britain’s King,
Whose injuries, usurperies,
Wide tyranny dost bring,
& all protest dismisses, let us fight, unite, & sing!’

Philadelphia
1776


 

American War

Britannia is bullied into action,
Sails off her men to fight three months from home,
& furnish their king with satisfaction,
Cornwallis views Virginian seaboard;
“Tax dodging scum!
Sons of gin-soak’d bitches!
Their time for payback come, be it blood or riches.”

Regular Redcoat regiment
Reach’d the creek at Brandywine,
As per se rules of engagment
Devastates the rebel line –
France offers timely refreshment,
Treaties of friendship sign,
Resumes the death match of those sister thrones
Sending a fleet to bolster John Paul Jones.

The purr of the Parisian
To Saratoga flies,
American, Shakespearean,
The day dramatic dies,
When British masters felt defeat, her rebels on the rise

West Virginia
1777


 

The Last Jacobite

Alexander commands a private clan,
His wife & three gorgeous daughters-in-law,
Each one a mother to a strapping man,
Gone with granpaw to patriotic war;
“Let none survive,”
The old man hiss’d his hate,
“Ah maybe eighty-five but I can still shoot straight.”

Washington launch’d verbal attacks,
“Men of our wond’rous nation,
Should we suffer a tyrant’s tax
Without representation,
Fight for your flag, both whites & blacks,
Suffer depravation,
For in the end it is our destiny
To carve a contree fit for liberty.”

Each night ‘Mac’ told the famous tayle
Of Bonnie Prince Charlie,
Twas never stale, did never fail
To rouse excitedly
His proud grandsons, tho’ them now men, perch’d on his pension’d knee.

West Virginia
1778


 

Britain Determin’d

As the Sun-King stopp’d by coalition,
Europe combines to smite man’s arrogance,
The British Empire in opposition
To Prussia, Spain, the Netherlands & France;
That mighty fleet,
From carv’d myriad trees,
Grown able to compete with London’s private seas.

Elsewhere, that sun of India’s
Rises with an angry shine,
As the Maharatta Rajas
Stiffen independant spine,
Raising flags against their ‘masters,’
Britannia forms a line
Sensing Delhi vital to her empire,
Brings down the rebels with unholy fire.

Ten thousand ships beseige the rock
To beat her to the knees,
Their cannons knock, such red hot shock,
But futile days are these –
The Briton pins defiance to Pillars of Hercules.

Gibralta
1782


 

Independence

As Essex battl’d Tyrone’s Ulstery,
When chivalry was bogg’d down in the peat,
Cornwallis seeks American mercy,
Yorktown’s surrender rendering defeat;
British Empire,
Pitt’s darling, lying wreck’d,
Gunn’d down in hatred’s fire, a time for retrospect.

The news whisper’d to MacDonald,
Half-flickers of emotion,
Tho’ body limp a mind so old
Still swam across an ocean,
Saw Glencoe’s massacre unfold,
As he, in slow-motion,
Drops chin to chest as poppies plush with rain
Decline their heads & drooping kiss the plain.

George Washington first president,
E Pluribus unum,
His government shall re-invent
The Grecian theorum,
Grand sentry of man’s liberty from now ‘til kingdom come.

The United States of America
1783


 

Convicts

As old soldiers earn a thievish living
One sails home to Blaneau Ffestiniog,
Defeated fates often unforgiving,
Arrested for robbing bottles of grog;
Transportation
An endless, restless sea,
Empire’s new direction – the penal colony.

Thro’ the sea-whiff in his nostrils
How rough perfume pierc’d his heart,
A buxom lass from Buxton hills,
Who’d stole from an apple cart,
Sea-nights their grunting passion fills
& then new life did start –
For Pam was pregnant when they disembark,
As when Mount Ararat received the Ark.

They moved up from Botany Bay,
Found a better harbour,
Upon the way young Maggie Grey
Marries Thomas Slater,
Then on the beach at Sydney toss’d into her hard labour.

Australia
1789


 

French Revolution

As children change a nation’s attitudes
The rights of man give reason to an age,
When swinish lives of rough-hewn multitudes
Have toss’d a straw out of their ancyent cage;
The straw blown east
By breeze American,
What forces are releas’d by proud Republican!

Are kings chosen by god alone
Or more by human error,
The commoners seize Capet’s throne,
Aristocratic terror,
Once noble heads from shoulders torn,
Life’s fatal leveller,
For golden lads & golden lasses must,
Like chimney sweeps, return to cold & dust.

Below the Bastille soft flutes play’d
Amid the broke spears,
Thro’ death’s parade the widow made
A well from all their tears,
When born from such beginnings Liberty must bleed for years.

Paris
1789

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