As I heard, on the BBC,
“There is no magic money tree!”
A powerful voice called out to me
To walk in the visions of Poesy.
I met Murder on the way—
She had a mask like Mrs May
Stable, strong, in heels of fur,
Seven blood-hounds followed her
All were fat; and well they might
Be in admirable plight
For one by one, and two by two
She tossed them human hearts to chew
Which from her wide cloak she drew.
From the Bahamas, next came Fraud
In pearls and trouser suit, like Rudd;
Her big tears, for she wept well,
Turned to mill-stones as they fell.
And the little children, who
Round her feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,
Had their brains knocked out by them.
Disheveled, like a bumbling fool,
But truly, calculated, cool,
Like Johnson next, Hypocrisy
On a Routemaster rode by.
And many more Destructions played
In this ghastly masquerade,
While loudly braying, at their tail,
The Express, The Sun, the Daily Mail.
Last came Austerity: he rode
On a white horse, splashed with blood
He was pale even to the lips
Like Death in the Apocalypse.
And he wore a kingly crown;
And in his grasp a sceptre shone;
On his brow this mark I saw—
“I AM GOD, AND KING, AND LAW!’
With a pace stately and fast,
Over English land he passed
Trampling to a mire of blood
The adoring multitude.
In hospitals the sick and ill
Expired in corridors, and still
The waiting lists just kept on growing;
Austerity approved this slowing,
While nurses saw wages stagnated,
For ‘many and complex’ reasons some
Would queue at food banks for a crumb.
Demoralized, doctors did strike,
Still, Jeremy Hunt said, “On your bike!
We’ll grind you to the ground then, yes,
We’ll privatize the NHS.”
“And as for those who benefits claim,
They must take their share of the blame.
Our handouts have been far too lax,
Let’s slap on them a bedroom tax!
“Their doctors may say they’re unwell,
But really, who are they to tell?”
So at their bedsides ATOS lurked
To—quick—pronounce them fit to work.
While mothers waded through red tape
To prove their children borne of rape
For ‘twould offend our Lord above
To feed a child conceiv’d of love.
Our Lord Austerity in schools
Pronounced all the Headteachers fools
Who couldn’t make their sums add up:
“Just hand around the begging cup!”
“Next,” cried that snatching, pilfering bunch.
“Let’s rob the infants of their lunch!
We won’t get caught for that of course—
We’ve already cut our police force.”
And while they cut things to the bone,
The Brexiteers got on the phone
To sort out our post Brexit trade—
(Our workers’ rights they’d surely raid).
“We will sell the Saudis arms,
We’ll export innovative jams,
But no, don’t export education—
That’s a cause of immigration.”
Then all cried with one accord,
“Thou art King, and God, And Lord;
Austerity, to thee we bow,
Be thy name made holy now!”
And Austerity, the Skeleton,
Bowed and grinned to every one,
As well as if his education
Had cost ten millions to the nation.
For he knew the Palaces
Of our Kings were rightly his;
His the sceptre, Crown, and globe,
And the gold inwoven robe.
So he sent his slaves before
To seize upon the Bank and Tower
And was proceeding with intent
To meet his pensioned Parliament
When one fled past, in tie of red
And his name was Hope, he said:
But he looked more like Despair,
And he cried out in the air:
“My father Time is weak and gray
With waiting for a better day;
See how idiot-like he stands,
Fumbling with his palsied hands!
“He has had child after child,
And the dust of death is piled
Over every one but me—
Misery, oh Misery!”
Then he lay down in the street,
Right before the horses feet,
Expecting, with a patient eye,
Murder, Fraud, Austerity.
When between him and his foes
A mist, a light, an image rose
Small at first, and weak, and frail
Like the vapour of a vale:
Till as clouds grow on the blast,
Like tower-crowned giants striding fast,
And glare with lightnings as they fly
And speak in thunder to the sky.
It grew—a Shape arrayed in mail
A planet, like the Morning’s, lay;
And those plumes its light rained through
Like a shower of crimson dew.
With step as soft as wind it passed
O’er the heads of men—so fast
That they knew the presence there,
And looked,—but all was empty air.
As flowers beneath May’s footstep waken,
As stars from Night’s loose hair are shaken,
As waves arise when loud winds call,
Thoughts sprung where’er that step did fall.
And the prostrate multitude
Looked—and ankle-deep in blood,
Hope, that gentleman, serene,
Was walking with a quiet mien:
Austerity, the ghastly birth,
Lay dead earth upon the earth;
The Horse of Death tameless as wind
Fled, and with his hoofs did grind
To dust the murderers thronged behind.
A rushing light of clouds and splendour,
A sense awakening and yet tender
Was heard and felt—and at its close
These words of joy and fear arose
“Men of England, heirs of Glory
Heroes of unwritten story,
Nurslings of one mighty Mother,
Hopes of her, and one another;
“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.”
(Largely lifted from Percy Bysshe Shelley)