ON THIS DAY 2020, as coronavirus was approaching its first peak or killing spree, I wrote ‘Vanguard of Liberty, ye men of Kent’ which was later published in International Times.
But here’s the poem again, in case you missed it. It is a transposition of a poem by Wordsworth, and develops the ‘dogging site’ theme that runs through my 'English Strain' project. It's all we've got left after Brexit, in the comic strip logic of the poems.
Here instead of the portrait of Wordsworth painted by William Hazlitt is a sentence that tells you that that was destroyed by Wordsworth around 1816. Gillray's caricature with the Bum Boats can still be seen today though!
Vanguard of Liberty, ye men of Kent
Vanloads of libertines, playboys of Kent,
you once set your calcic frowns against
France’s toothless coast! Now’s the time
to prove you’re rock hard tarts! Let Gillray’s
Bum-Boats dump the last of your hops. Those
French hear your brave woodland shouts for show
as you roam, single, in self-distancing self-love;
they watch your glistening lance throb
in your (well-washed) hand, as you film
an isolated maiden in a mask. (‘She’s a nurse!’)
No partying now: we’re ramping up mass testing,
damping down individual urges. In breathless
Bo’s Britain, each stay-indoors chartered street
is mothballed in his notional socialism.
31st March 2020
See here also for my video of this text, although you will find another transposition published by International Times:
There is also a post about finishing with Wordsworth here:
This poem comes from British Standards, which you can read about here: Pages: The final sonnet transposition from John Clare (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)
British Standards is the third book of the ‘English Strain’ project. You may read about the first book and second book here. Indeed, you may now buy them.
Book One, The English Strain is described here (on a post that was written before it gained its title!).
There’s another post on Book Two, Bad Idea here .
I am delighted to say that Book One, The English Strain is available from Shearsman; see here:
I am also delighted to say that Book Two, Bad Idea is available from Knives Forks and Spoons; see here: https://www.knivesforksandspoonspress.co.uk/product-page/bad-idea-by-robert-sheppard-102-pages