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told them to take their Order of the British Empire

and shove it right where the monkey shoves his nuts;

to higher things than that he did aspire,

not for him, life as an elite sucker up;

a man of his word, he, for his entire life

fought against empire, racism and slavery,

against colonial imposition and strife;

he inspired others to personal bravery,

connection with people, the aim of Benjamin’s writing,

no honour for him, their empire attached to his name,

a poet of the people, with respect and love uniting,

his words and his colours nailed to the mast are his fame.


Benjamin Zephaniahloveempire

◄ Betrayed

Haiku Prunus Spinosa ►


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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Sat 9th Dec 2023 20:12

Thanks all for your comments and likes.

Your wait is over MC: you’ve just read a poem from “…a British descendant of the viciously poor…”.

Mum frequently told me of the fear of the workhouse which was ingrained into her family memories. My forbears came to Britain to escape grinding poverty in Ireland, and mum’s warning “cleanliness is next to godliness” still rings in my ears-she was the youngest of eight- the child who should have grown up to be my uncle died at the age of six or seven from TB (tuberculosis) in what was probably among the last of Lancashire’s workhouses.

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M.C. Newberry

Sat 9th Dec 2023 17:37

SW - I wonder, have you ever been cancelled on WOL for your
contributions? I am among whose entries have been found
worthy of cancellation but remain eternally optimistic that
variations of view are "no crime". We post material "at or own risk" so to speak, and debate about entries and other comments are part of the life-blood of vigorous healthy writing. Just tell
me when I've used vulgarity and abuse at any time...if you can.
Remember Voltaire! Cheers.

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Stephen Gospage

Sat 9th Dec 2023 07:38

Thank you for this poem, Uilleam. Benjamin Zephaniah was an authentic poet and could write funny, joyous verse. He died too young, as so many of the best do.

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Steve White

Fri 8th Dec 2023 18:21

Some remarkable insensitivity in some of the comments given that the man has just died, and far too young too.

Benjamin was the best of us, a gifted poet, writer, musician and actor. Many times when I struggled to find the words to express myself, I found that he already had, with more courage and charm than I could muster.

M.C., my family history is distinctly British working class but you don't seem to like my poetry either. Maybe you should reflect on the old adage that if you haven't got anything nice to say maybe you're best saying nothing every once in a while.

Graham, Benjamin played a Jamaican-born street preacher in Peaky Blinders and he was absolutely perfect for the role.

Thanks for the poem, Uilleam.

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 8th Dec 2023 17:39

History takes no prisoners but it helps to acknowledge the
advantages of being one of its "victims" in this modern life.
I am no fan of incessant resentment against the present and its
access to so much that has been hard won by so many.
I wait for poems from the British descendants of the viciously
poor, victims of disease-ridden slums and living in the feared shadow of the ultimate degradation - the workhouse. But guess what - they'll be a long time coming.

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Graham Sherwood

Fri 8th Dec 2023 14:33

I agree with the sentiments showered on Benjamin Zephaniah although I did not like the fact that he chose to appear in Peaky Blinders (I have to admit here and now I have never watched it, albeit I'm aware of its content etc). It seemed like a very strange juxt to me considering his usual demeanour.

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keith jeffries

Fri 8th Dec 2023 11:14

Zephaniah was a fellow poet, a man of integrity and a noble figure who knew the difference between right and wrong. There are others like him: Mosab Abu Toha from Gaza to name one, whose poetry speaks with eloquence the truth which confronts mankind.
Thank you for this poem,

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