History

Become Not Women

In 1848, in response to the 300-strong Convention for Woman's Rights in Seneca Falls (USA) and its Declaration of Sentiments, a Philadelphia newspaper urged the city's ladies not to join the new movement and become women but to stay as "wives, belles, virgins and mothers". Here's my poetic response:

Heroes and Hordes

If Nicholas Winton were saving the children today
His Transport of Kindness would camp out in fear at Calais
Compassion is easier cast back through history's mist
Abhorrence for migrants but Oscars for Schindler's List

No humans may cross here, this tunnel is only for freight
Hurrah for the Blackshirts and see off the swarms at the gate
They've kind words for history, now for the iron-clad fist
Coldness for Calais and Oscars for Schindler's List

The lords of the fortress will draw bloody lines in the sand
Armed guard at the border instead of the helping hand
They'll trample the memory of saviours whose statues they've kissed 
With borders of barbed wire and Oscars for Schindler's List

Gallipoli

Written on the centenary of the start of the appalling slaughter that was the Gallipoli campaign in World War One:

Rank corpses carpeted Gallipoli
At Russell's Top, Lone Pine and Suvla Bay 
By bullet, bayonet or dysentery
Eight months of folly fighting lives away
Young Albert Booth got out of there alive
From hell to hell, from Dardanelles to trench
No others from his landing craft survived
But joined the dead, the ANZACs, Turks and French 
One hundred thousand gone from those sad nations
And all for what? A great futility
Did lives not figure in the calculations 
Of Britain's First Lord of the Admiralty?
- Excuse me if I don't take out a sub
- To Winston Churchill's great admirers' club

Workers' Socialist Federation statement on 1918 General Election

The WSF was the organisation led by Sylvia Pankhurst, which had previously been the Workers' Suffrage Federation, and before that, the East London Federation of the Suffragettes. It had previously fought militantly, first for votes for women, and then more explicitly for votes for all, and in 1917 was advocating supporting international socialists in parliamentary elections.

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