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PILGRIM’S PROGRESS – FOR RAPHAEL SAMUEL

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 In 1649, King Charles the First was executed,
And England became a republic,
A Commonwealth;
Another step on the road to parliamentary democracy
And constitutional monarchy;
(Or so the history books tell us)
That quintessentially English line of evolution
From Magna Carta in 1215,
To votes for women in 1928;
Peaceful evolution –
And even when the history books mention that word,
Revolution,
In a political sense,
It is “The Glorious Revolution of 1688”,
Which merely guaranteed that the monarch
Would be Protestant and not Roman Catholic.
But there is another optic to use when viewing this history:
Look and see how the possession of property
Was seen as a precondition for the possession of liberty,
And see how the law was used to impose wage slavery
On those with no property, and hence no liberty;
All in the name of the Law, rack-renting and usury.
Whipping and branding
For the vast ranks of beggars and vagabonds
In Merry Tudor England,
As John Bunyan said,
They were “Kicked to and fro like footballs in the wind”;
Families torn apart by pressgangs,
Hearts of Oak!
“For who are so free as the sons of the waves.”
Enclosure robbing cottagers and squatters of their common rights,
(“Without a class of persons willing to work for wages,
How are the comforts and refinements of civilised life to be procured?”)
Transportation of pauper children to the new colonies of New England,
Olaudauh Equiano and his 10 million Afric comrades
Transported To the Barbadoes,
(“Britons never never never shall be slaves”),
The loom. The mill. The factory. The clock. Clocking in. Clocking out.
Wage slavery.
And so let us rescue the past
“from the enormous condescension of posterity”
And instead of Kings and Queens and Generals and Admirals,
Robin Hood! Poachers! The gypsy vision of John Clare! The Diggers! The Levellers! Striking Stroud Handloom Weavers! Chartists! Billy Meredith! These are our football heroes!
For remember,
“The law locks up the man or woman
Who plays at football on the common,
But leaves the greater villain free
Who steals our fields from you and me.”

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Notes

Not many people realise that John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress was, in fact, a guide to all football fans in their search for a level playing field. Some historians have wrongly asumed that it was just for followers of Plymouth Argyle.

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/pilgrims-progress-for-raphael-samuel/