Friday, 4 October 2013

Chartist mural: "The Gift of Democracy" poem

The destruction of the Chartist mural, Newport, 3 October 2013
[Image by Jamie Cranston: source]
I was so moved by the vandalism yesterday in Newport to the Chartist mural that I wrote the below poem last night about the events of 1839.

The Gift of Democracy

by

Damon Lord



This was the place where we remembered.
The men who marched,
The men who fought,
The men who lived,
The men who died,
For those rights we now take for granted.
Five thousand men poured down from the Welsh Valleys
That stormy night in 1839.
Onwards they marched through the dark,
The dawn rising on the fourth of November
Bringing new hope,
Riding the wave of desire for fair representation
And universal suffrage
For all men of 21 years.
This was the place where we celebrated their gift.

This was the place where we remembered.
The men who marched,
The men who fought,
The men who lived,
The men who died,
For those rights we now take for granted.
Approaching Newport’s St Woolos Church,
They pounded on down Stow Hill,
The Westgate Hotel in sight.
Born of a common desire for incorruptible voting,
A secret ballot of the representatives,
To fairly elect those who serve us.
Such consensus should serve well,
Reminding the elected of their true masters.
This was the place where we celebrated their gift.

This was the place where we remembered.
The men who marched,
The men who fought,
The men who lived,
The men who died,
For those rights we now take for granted.
The resolute men boldly strode on,
Determined to free their like-minded chartist brothers,
Captive inside the Westgate Hotel.
United in the belief:
All men can stand equally for selection
And be not prejudiced by status or class
Or ownership of property.
Land does not vote.
People vote.
This was the place where we celebrated their gift.

This was the place where we remembered.
The men who marched,
The men who fought,
The men who lived,
The men who died,
For those rights we now take for granted.
Guns belched out,
Squirearchy bullets spat forth.
Rich and poor stood side by side,
Lived and died,
Holding true to their common dream.
All men could stand equally for selection
And be not prejudiced by status or class
Or possession or want of money.
A wage for all elected members of Parliament,
For equality, for those without estates
Now unburdened by financial want
Serving their true masters, the electorate.
This was the place where we celebrated their gift.

This was the place where we remembered.
The men who marched,
The men who fought,
The men who lived,
The men who died,
For those rights we now take for granted.
Twenty-two men fell that day,
Fifty more injured in just twenty minutes,
Falling for the goal of
The division of the electorate
Into fair constituencies of equal size
So democracy could reign.
This was the place where we celebrated their gift.

This was the place where we remembered.
The men who marched,
The men who fought,
The men who lived,
The men who died,
For those rights we now take for granted.
One chartist goal lay forlorn, an abandoned placard,
No annual vote would come.
The brutal might of Newport Council
Today just as then,
Heinous in their deeds.
The capture, trial, and deportation of John Frost
Paralleled today
By sly and wanton destruction
Of a poignant mural to their memory.
The wall now rubble,
Ruined, the daily visual reminder
Of the men who marched,
The men who lived,
The men who fought,
The men who died
For those rights we now take for granted.
This was the place where we celebrated their gift.
And we will not forget.