Sunday, January 31, 2010

National Trust

Here's a poem from the 1970s collection, The School of Eloquence, by Tony Harrison. The collection is prefaced with a quotation from E.P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class:
"In 1779 special legislation was introduced "utterly suppressing and prohibiting" by name the London Corresponding Society and the United Englishmen. Even the indefatigible conspirator, John Binns, felt that further national organization was hopeless...When arrested he was found in possession of a ticket which was perhaps one of the last "covers" for the old L.C.S: Admit for the Season to the School of Eloquence."

National Trust

Bottomless pits. There’s one in Castleton,
and stout upholders of our law and order
one day thought its depth worth wagering on
and borrowed a convict hush-hush from his warder
and winched him down; and back, flayed, grey, mad, dumb.

Not even a good flogging made him holler!

O gentlemen, a better way to plumb
the depths of Britain’s dangling a scholar,
say, here at the booming shaft at Towanroath,
now National Trust, a place where they got tin,
those gentlemen who silenced the men’s oath
and killed the language that they swore it in.

The dumb go down in history and disappear
and not one gentleman ’s been brought to book:

Mes den hep tavas a-gollas y dyr

‘the tongueless man gets his land took