The peasants who, in the 14th century
stormed the Tower of London
and bust into John of Gaunt’s luxury pad
to release the prisoners
and burn the poll tax records;
who brought little King Richard to his knees
to beg and plead and twist his little teenage
fingers behind his back before he broke his
royal pardon and ordered the slaughtering
and quartering of the revolution’s leaders,
believed that when Adam delved and Eve span
the world was rid of the curse of gentle-man.
They risked, and gave, their lives to restore
an egalitarian Eden.
And the Diggers, 200 years later,
tilled the earth of their hill-top commune,
knowing that before the Normans came
with their foreign monarchy and Latin laws,
the commons lived in peace in Albion.
It seems that dreamers and fighters
strive, with old utopias in their hearts,
to rebuild Jerusalems in new homelands.
It’s like hippies who love the Mayans
and the native Americans
For being in touch with the earth
and building pyramids that
were almost as exact as modern astrology.
Or that ‘we were kings and queens in Africa’ thing,
which is all well and good until
you think, as I heard LKJ once say,
we can’t all have been kings,
because, before those monarchs made pacts with
the English, the French or the Dutch, thinking
they could use a stranger’s weaponry
to help them settle their own long-standing rivalries,
if some Africans were kings
then most must have been subjects.
Perhaps there never was a time
without oppression or hierarchy;
perhaps the alpha male always
bullied and battered his subjugated family.
Me – I look to the level horizon of my East Anglican homeland
and take pattern from the community of my housemates,
where we all share our food, split the bills
and get along no problem;
I hear the spirit in the crowds at gigs
where hundreds rock together
towards a wailing wall of sound;
I find symbols in a baby’s smile
and the kindness of a stranger.
Sam Berkson, September 2011