BBWB 5: Suffragettes

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THE BALLAD OF BLACK WATCH BRODICK

CANTO 5

Suffragettes

This was a most ‘immoral’ age
Dancing new-fangl’d tangos
Eliza swearing on the stage
Catwalks of risque clothes

An age it was of civil strife
Trade Unions upstirring
As strikes in every walk of life
Halts empire’s engines’ whirring

& bless the brazen Suffragette
That patriarchy smothers
“We’ll all get to the hustings yet
We sisters, sweethearts, mothers!”

Among whose thriving militants
Stands Sarah Fullarton
Emitting clear omnipotence
Until the vote is won

She was the fairest e’er to walk
The fragrant curves of Brodick
A lily on a fillystalk
But ‘tricky’ as a chopstick

For in an age of man & wife
When wives were more like servants
She’s chose to forge a finer life
‘Spite disapproving parents

In Glasgow there’s a rally sworn
All in Saint Andrew’s Hall
From Brodick, by swift steamer borne,
She’ll answer Pankhurst’s call.

Where if the Police did barge inside
Misusing all their powers
The speaker’s platform fortified
With barbwire mask’d by flowers

The room erupts, queen Emmeline
Captures the room starstatur’d
This is the season aquiline
When hearts by reason raptur’d

“Good morning sisters of the world
For future time each fights
When every little new-born girl
Shall share her brother’s rights

My promise kept, I’m here my friends
Despite our Kingship’s serpentin’d
Government’s inord’nate spends
To silence womenkind

But wit and ingenuities
Of women overcome such
Disgraceful elitist committees
That jaded aegis clutch

& come the change to surely come
That only time hold’s back
We’ll bang the democratic drum
Out of the cul-de-sac

Of our dead nation that ignores
The honest protestations
Of women knocking at all doors
Of legal delegations

Archbishops and the King himself
Dismisses each petition
Places them unread on a shelf
& calls its text sedition

How can one assume seditious
Equality twyx sexes
& socio-political justice –
Instead they avoid or vex us!”

With angry shouts & whistle blows
A storm of surging policemen
Surge thro’ the hall, a pure storm rose
Of women fighting men

Towards the stage the Police advance
With batons drawn for battles
Hail-dodging in a weird wardance
Chairs, boxes, buckets, bottles

A confus’d scene of bloody streams
& violence erupted,
The reckoning of dark regimes
By wickedness corrupted

A tornado’s worth of odium
All round the stage congeal’d
The Policemen reach the podium
Paus’d by barb’d wires conceal’d

Then stabbing pincers crab on crab
Hands lunge at Emmeline
Men drag her to a waiting cab
Some shameful concubine

She’s tossed inside a mouldy cell
Refuses bread & water
For you she’s done it, damoiselle,
For your mother & your daughter

All night the hungerstrike she kept
In noble spirit springing
Erewhile the streets of Glasgow slept
The Suffragettes were singing

Next morning she was roughly strapp’d
To stretcher & then driven
To Central Station, how they clapp’d
Those women who had striven

To line the route from cell to rail
Conjoin’d in common chorus
A movement that must never fail
Against the dinosaurus

That is the patriarchal beast
As down to Holloway
Goes Mrs Pankhurst whose increas’d
Her cause that awful day

When politics & ministers
Spurn basic Human Rights
& sends in strong-arm sinisters
Those ant-farm saprophytes!

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