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Logres Besieged

LOGRES BESIEGED: an incantation

I.

Reason sleeps, and austerity’s skeletal hand
Grips the throat of Albion.
Fetid dreams stalk the land
Bringing fevers of hate.
The fault lines crack open as demagogues spew
Their frothing lies,
And orcs are loosed upon the streets:
The fascist with a petrol bomb
Draped in a flag of hate
With a foul stream of nationalism
In his red maw, and the slack-jawed bigot
Repeating the tabloid headlines
Printed on their dead eyes
And their shrivelled hearts.

II.

Where now is Blake the dreamer,
Where is the Lady on her white horse?
I hear the soft pounding of Blake’s inkpad
Feverishly printing his prophecies & dreams.
I hear him conjuring the angels to appear.
Come Albion’s Angel with thy sword of light.
Ride out Epona from the surging chalk
A standing wave of the land’s memories.
Rising from our dreams of freedom,
Freedom from the crushing Norman foe,
They that broke the burghs, suppressed the hundred moot.
Ride forth Godiva to free the people
From the rents and taxes.
Among the ghosts of industry,
Wheels that have ceased to turn,
Mines filled with dark waters,
Lost mills and sleeping looms.
Call forth the ghosts of solidarity,
The faded banners of proud mining towns,
Ned Ludd’s ragged army rising from the hedgerows,
And the ghosts of ridge and furrow
Marching across lost acres
Fallen to the monsters of agribusiness and enclosure.
Lost villages, lost worlds,
Ghosts of an England too proud to endure:
The land that John Clare mourned,
That sent too many poets mad
And destroyed the dreamers,
Mired in the clay of commerce,
Dragged into oblivion by a nation of shopkeepers
Turning from reason, despising visionaries,
Grinding philosophers’ bones into bitter bread
And feeding the poison of despair
To generations of children,
Their lost eyes gazing on dark satanic mills
That grind down hope into sadness.

III.

And now perfidious Albion turns
To bite the hands that fed him
The snarling lion tears the flank of Europe
Turned at bay in a cage of his own devising.
Little England mumbling over tatters of Empire
An officious park keeper in a regimented park
Where Englishmen were never trusted
In the blessèd healing dark,
And the sun shone blistering down
On the mad dogs in the noonday.

IV.

War is unleashed in all the worlds
Between mad Albion and the dream of Logres.
Logres lies chained, besieged, ensnared.
Seven plagues are unleashed upon the land:
Demagoguery, racism, lies, fracking, austerity, hate,
And a fearful shrinking of the human soul.
Beware the weasel under the cocktail cabinet:
It has rabies and will bite the ankles
Of all who come too near.
Two dragons writhe entangled in a pool beneath a hill
And the waters run red with their strife.
Albion’s better nature, Logres,
Is at war with Little England,
A petulant child with a farting trumpet
And a tattered flag.

V.

Rise up, Logres, raise the banners high!
We are the dreamers, the poets, the socialists.
We are the ones who reclaim the commons:
The Levellers, the Diggers, the Jarrow Marchers,
We are the Chartists and the Suffragettes,
We are John Ball and Ned Ludd,
Wat Tyler and the people of Peterloo.
Punks and goths, hippies and travellers,
Romantics and anarchists,
Sufis and witches and druids.
With one voice we cry freedom
And solidarity with all who suffer –
Refugees and migrants –
We have always welcomed migrants:
Huguenots and German miners of lead and silver,
The blues singers in the working men’s clubs,
The travellers on the Windrush.
We are the hidden ones with our roots in the land.
We know we are guests on the sacred earth
And tread our round of days
With eyes open to the dreams of others,
Heart ready to stoop with the fox
Hiding from the hunters in the crumbling earth
Hands ready to shield from shame
Those who are broken and beaten
By the system, crushed by capital.
We are the people of the hidden gods,
Forgotten and forlorn,
Awakening from their sleep
To behold a land changed utterly.
The giants are loosed from their mounds,
The gods walk abroad.
Epona ripped through the veil
Into the dawn, on her white horse
Riding into the mist.
Brigantia weeps beside a dusty ditch
Rending her garments.
The land is sundered, our dreams divided.
The veil between the worlds hangs in tatters;
A nightmare squats on the nation’s chest.

VI.

Awake Wild Edric from your western marches!
Retrieve your sword from Bomere pool
And free sad Logres from this bitter siege.
We are parched and stranded on a green hill.
Our wells run dry.
Rise up Gawain, our hawk of May.
We are lost in a dreary wood
Full of bones, and rust, and broken wheels,
And no sign of any castle of comfort
To relieve the prospect of these sad paths
Through the drooping brown bracken.
Awake knights of Arthur,
For surely Logres has need of you now.
We are besieged from within
By an insurgency of hate
And if ever we needed the sleeping knights of Camelot
Surely it is now.
Restore to us the vision of Logres
A land of welcome,
A place of refuge,
Where dreamers and poets,
Painters and lovers
Broughts news of nowhere
To the green heart of Engelond
Where arts and crafts might flourish,
Where hedgerows and old straight tracks
Made paths for the hidden folk,
Where crazy saints might prophesy
And angels walked abroad.
Where the marriage of heaven and hell,
Hope and despair,
Might wreak the fierce alchemy of love
To etch the true face of Albion,
Revealing the jewelled streets of Logres,
Land of dreaming,
Land of hope,
Land of glory.

VII.

Arise people of Logres!
Bring pots and pans
To play the Skimmington
Make noise against the racists and the bigots.
Stand up navigators, rise up and be strong!
It’s long past time to awaken
From the drugged sleep of oppression
To stand with the dispossessed
Defend our vision of the common treasury.
The lark soars above the heath
Singing of freedom and hope.
Rise up with the lark,
Rise up with the dawn:
Arise, people of Logres!

Iron Age earthworks, British campBy Spoonfrog at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Liftarn using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11894921

Iron Age earthworks, British Camp, Malvern Hills. Photo by Spoonfrog at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Liftarn using CommonsHelper., Public Domain.

Yvonne Aburrow has published two books of her poetry, The Endless Knot and Seasons of the Heart. “Logres Besieged” is also the name of a Tumblr where she is collecting articles, memes, poetry, and artwork about life in post-referendum Britain.

14 Comments »

  1. I woke up at 2:30 am on the morning of the 12th, leapt out of bed, and rushed downstairs to write this. It all came out in one big splurge. I didn’t do much editing on it… just a few words here and there – I liked its rawness.

    Like

  2. Yvonne, I too like the rawness, the ‘everything including the kitchensink’ spinning quality of a 2:30AM howl. Thank you. In America right now perhaps we need the generous quality of Witman?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A bit more on ‘Witman’ – Just after I posted the comment I realized I wanted to say ‘the generous and inclusive erotic quality of Witman’

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    • Have you ever noticed the similarities between Ginsberg and Whitman? I think they are very similar.

      I hope that someone will write a poem with the epic qualities of Ginsberg’s HOWL and/or (as you say) the lyrical qualities of Whitman’s poetry which might awaken America. There are so many great American poets (and Americans claim they have no culture, er what??)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. Since Ginsberg was very conscious of his poetry, I suspect that Whitman influenced the development of his poetics. That right now America does not have a strong publicly visible poetic voice of resistance and progress is interesting and maybe we will see a remedy soon.

        It is interesting that just after I read your poem, I saw an event on my Facebook ‘Wall’ for an event tomorrow at the Poetry Foundation here in Chicago titled ‘What is poetry for’ – it seemed appropriate that I go given this dialog, so I signed up. (The Poetry Foundation actually has a big ‘Poetry Building’ in the city – the edifice was funded by some wealthy woman from Indiana who upon her death gave a boatload of money (several hundreds of millions of dollars) to the publishers of Poetry Magazine because their editors rejected a submission she made in her youth and sent her a polite yet supportive rejection letter!)

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  4. I love this visionary piece, as Gilbride notes, written in the tone of Blake’s prophetic writings. I loved the image of him ‘feverishsly printing his prophecies and dreams’ as Epona rises from the chalk. It’s strange, isn’t it, that these myths seem to stirring again as we hit a time of crisis. Blake’s been a big influence on me for years. His words about the cleansing of the doors of perception leading to the infinite were one of the things that eventually led me to paganism… the PhD I never finished was on Blake’s conception of Imagination. It’s good to hear his voice coming through others in new ways 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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