Wednesday, August 01, 2007

After Culloden

The Highland Clearances
hard recruiting sergeants
Scottish regiments for English battles
potato famine
later economic dearth
and half a million Scots
not to mention Irish
directly or by circumstance
driven from their land

As was for the Iraqi Kurds
so was for the Gaelic ones
‘You see,’ said the Iranian scholar:
‘We are looking at a common history’
an archetypal commonality
of suppurating colonisation
perpetuation and re-perpetuation
broken emigrants breaking First Nations
hunting Aborigines, indenturing Africans
Calvinist Apartheid
oppressed turned oppressor
lowest common denominator of brutality

And England !
You carver-up of nations for perpetual advantage!
Divided self’s divide-and-rule worldview
Yes, you, England !
dear England
you too were cleft within your soul
viscerally cauterised
much further back in time
by Roman and by Norman yokes
of robber barons
lords of war and land
that laid you low

But still I sense your taproot yet
to winnow from the karmic curse
Winstanley’s England , Blake and Mary Webb
Benjamin Zephaniah and Elizabeth Fry
and George Monbiot in the Manchester Guardian
and even a Great Chain
of Liverpool Bishops
grooving with Jah people
in their struggle, their desperation
their elation and their elevation

And did those feet on green and pleasant land?
Of course they did!
Aye … England …
Sill writhing in the birth pangs of your great vocation
See you, England …
Jerusalem England !

~Alastair McIntosh

1 comment:

Aquila ka Hecate said...

A great many of my ancestors took part in Culloden.
I visited the site in the early '70s and was taken aback, even at that young age (I must have been 10 or 11) at the air of desolation which still hangs over it-all of it, the battlefield, the town nearby and the museum.I think the spirits of the dead McKays and Andersons were trying to tell us something.
Lovely poem Hecate, thanks!
Terri in Joburg