Step Change

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Tear the statues down
put them in a museum
have their achievements weighed 
against their modern moral faults
Give them context
It feels wrong to venerate
values we no longer share

Tear the problematic statues down
it’s time to move on
They’ve had their light
they’ve had their vaunted praise
let them slip into the past
I don't want to walk beside
the likeness of a slave trader
on my morning commute
despite their pigeon-shit coat
that always makes me smirk

Tear the statues down
The older folks may say it’s a pity
the folly of an ignorant youth
but times; they change
often abruptly
and sometimes it's appropriate 
to force a step change
to send a message
Like scientists reevaluating theories
based on new research
Shouldn’t we reassess 
elevated heroes of the past

Tear the problematic statues down
let’s build new ones
better ones
let them inspire hope and unity
and in 100 years, if they must fall again
then so be it
History is not lost because of it
books will go on, museums go on
providing that all-important context
for those who seek it...

 

[2020]

◄ A Most Comfortable Prison

Holly Hagg ►

Comments

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Vautaw

Thu 23rd Jul 2020 03:10

Great thought-provoking poem Tom. I rather like the idea of rogue statues covered in pigeon poop. That’s poetic! 🖤

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John Marks

Thu 23rd Jul 2020 00:02

Allowing oneself to be swept away by a fashionable critique of the past as uninformed as that of the BLM movement (an abomination, in my view, as, of course, ALM) without a full understanding of the context is simply uneducated. The censorship of contrary views by the Cancel movement is authoritarian (one of the kindest words I could find) and seeks to intimidate original thinkers who don't adopt their ideological bias.The past is another country and we should critique it at our peril. As poets, you and I Tom, need to defend free speech, no matter how unpopular a particular speech act may be. We poets are the unacknowledged legislators of this world and we must, therefore, reserve judgement:

Rough wind, the moanest loud
Grief too sad for song;
Wild wind, when sullen cloud
Knells all the night long;
Sad storm, whose tears are vain,
Bare woods, whose branches strain,
Deep caves and dreary main, —
Wail, for the world's wrong!

Percy, Bysshe Shelley, A Dirge (1821)

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Tom

Fri 3rd Jul 2020 00:07

Thanks Nicola 😃

Nicola Beckett

Sat 20th Jun 2020 14:26

Love this poetry xx

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Tom

Thu 11th Jun 2020 18:57

Thanks M.C. I wanted to try and be pragmatic rather that reactionary. And I agree with you completely that we should not get swept up in trends. But once your eyes have been opened to something, it's best not to shy away from taking the necessary action.

And thank you for stopping by and reading my work, I really appreciate it.

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M.C. Newberry

Thu 11th Jun 2020 16:13

A sensible considered approach to a contentious topic. As I have
remarked elsewhere, I think of the statues as markers of a time and
place that should be available, like books, for historical reference in agreed conditions.
But history is not always universally comforting and we must tread
warily if we are not to be seen as cultural vandals knee-jerking to
the pressures of a forceful factional demand "of the present".

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