From time to time Saturday is Poetry Day here at Gates of Vienna, and today seems an appropriate occasion — given that it’s the first Saturday since the Investiture of the Puppet — to repost an old favorite by Edwin Muir. I’ve posted it at least twice in the past, but it’s worth revisiting.
I don’t know why people are complaining about the legitimacy of last November’s election. I mean, we got the best election money can buy* — what’s not to like?
As a matter of interest, I memorized this poem for my O-Level examinations when I attended the High School in Harrogate. Except for the odd preposition here and there, the text in my head seems to be intact some fifty-three years later:
by Edwin Muir
All through that summer at ease we lay,
And daily from the turret wall
We watched the mowers in the hay
And the enemy half a mile away —
They seemed no threat to us at all.
For what, we thought, had we to fear
With our arms and provender, load on load,
Our towering battlements, tier on tier,
And friendly allies drawing near
On every leafy summer road?
Our gates were strong, our walls were thick,
So smooth and high, no man could win
A foothold there, no clever trick
Could take us, have us dead or quick.
Only a bird could have got in.
What could they offer us for bait?
Our captain was brave and we were true…
There was a little private gate,
A little wicked wicket gate.
The wizened warder let them through.
Oh then our maze of tunneled stone
Grew thin and treacherous as air.
The cause was lost without a groan,
The famous citadel overthrown,
And all its secret galleries bare.
How can this shameful tale be told?
I will maintain until my death
We could do nothing, being sold;
Our only enemy was gold,
And we had no arms to fight it with.
|*||Also apropos in this context (especially with its Second Amendment overtones) is the fifth stanza from “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” by Rudyard Kipling:
When the Cambrian measures were forming,
they promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons,
that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us
and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said:
“Stick to the Devil you know.”