The Magna What?

Two years ago, I entered my first poetry contest. I’m not much of a poet, and I know it, but I’m interested in poetry and I do have a tendency to wade into deep water and get in over my head. Well, these waters were deep indeed, and the current was strong. In fact, it carried me 800 years into the past, and, figuratively speaking, across the Atlantic Ocean. That’s because the contest was part of a London festival celebrating the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. The highlight of the event would be the reading of the winning poem (by the poet). I had never been to England. Game on.

The last time I remember anybody even mentioning the Magna Carta was maybe in my very dry high school World History class. I say maybe because I really don’t remember much about that class. I got B’s only because I knew how to study and cram for tests. I didn’t really start to appreciate history until much later. I had a lot of Googling to do if I was going to write any kind of a poem about the Magna Carta.

Well, Google I did. I didn’t win a prize, but the effort was worth it anyway. I learned something new, and I had fun doing it. If you want to learn more about the Magna Carta … well, it’s 2017. You know what to do.

And now for my poem.

At Runnymede

At Runnymede we made our stand
eight hundred years ago;
the rolling hills and River Thames
bore witness to it all.

We gathered in the meadow
with rebellion on our minds
and told King John he had no right
to act above the law.

“We’re nobles with a noble cause,
And free men, by the way!
Your taxes are exorbitant,
your punishments arcane.

The Archbishop has drafted
a more modern set of rules,
and what’s more, it’s in Latin
so it’s legal as can be!”

“I can’t accept your terms, you fools,”
said haughty old King John.
“The Pope’s in my back pocket,
so you haven’t got a prayer.”

Then he dismissed us with a wave,
but we would not be cowed
Instead, we grew more resolute
than ever, and declared,

“We’re mad as hell, you tyrant, you!
Divine rights are passé!
No longer will we acquiesce
to your outlandish schemes!

Our liberty is sacred,
but you are not, King John,
and if you dare to cross us
we will seize your lands at once!”

Reluctantly, the king accepted
our demands that day
with no intent to honor them —
but they survived his reign.

At Runnymede the River Thames
and rolling hills abide;
eight centuries have come and gone —
and Magna Carta stands!

© Lori Bonati, 2017

Badge 2017

 

6 thoughts on “The Magna What?

  1. I think you should have won a prize. History is very difficult to make both less dry and fun but this zips along at a rip roaring pace, genuinely exciting, along with including wit and humour (especially the Latin bit). Plus you get infinite points for your use of the word passé and rhyming acquiesce with schemes 😀

    Like

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