30th. April, last day of the month, last poem of the month, the day before May Day. I'm a great admirer of the poetry of William McIlvanney, I think I have read all he has written and some several times. So, with Labour Day in mind, I thought of this one from his book In Through The Head ISBN 1851581703 published by Mainstream Publishing Edinburgh.
Everyman: A Morality Play.
"Aye zur," Everyman said, as the Lord of the Manor
Raped his wife, sons and his daughters, and threw him a tanner.
"Aye zur," Everyman said, "that be bully for ee."
And he pulled up his smock as he bowed from the knee
with a delicate click of obedient clogs
And a tail-wagging movement he borrowed from dogs.
"Aye zur," Everyman said, "that be bully for ee"
"Appen Maister be wantin ma bollocks for tea?"
With a father from north and a mother from south
He let every cliché find a home in his mouth,
Being taught as a man he would never fit,
He was skilled in the role of an identkit.
He learned his lines well until one fateful day,
Though his mouth still remembered the things he should say,
A slight twinge in one leg made him suddenly see;
"Get A grip. Human beings can't bow from the knee."
"Ach, fuck this fur a play," every man said,
Took the lord of the manner and stove in his head.
Since it is the last day of the wee poetry thingy, and tomorrow IS May Day, I thought, just for good measure, I might as well through in a few verses from Shelley's Mask of Anarchy.
The Mask of Anarchy.(extract)
'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.
'What is Freedom? - ye can tell
That which slavery is, too well -
For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.
'Tis to work and have such pay
As just keeps life from day to day
In your limbs, as in a cell
For the tyrants' use to dwell,
'So that ye for them are made
Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade,
With or without your own will bent
To their defence and nourishment.
'Tis to see your children weak
With their mothers pine and peak,
When the winter winds are bleak, -
They are dying whilst I speak.