Twas not at Southwark’s famous Tabard
But at St Paul’s where pilgrims gathered,
Where some months ere, no Christian pity,
Could save ye twine-tied tented city.
No holy sanctuary was given,
Ye chapter did well as t’was bidden
For though St Paul’s dost boast a cross
Ye corporation’s almighty boss.
So there began, at winter’s close
As t’ward ye steps was turned a hose
A quest to find another way
To cry for peace another day.
At length was hit upon a plan
To form a motley caravan
A penitent walk for thirteen days
Following ye pilgrim ways.
And if ye clergy saw it right
To clear ye steps on fated night,
Pardon ye bailiff, constabulary
We alight now for Canterbury.
A bishop left ye pilgrims bless’d,
And out struck they from protest’s nest,
And for fair Blackheath, in deluvious rain
And there they couched in tents again.
After mass, t’ward Dartford Heath
Passing out scrolls, marching ‘neath
A glorious and sun-filled sky.
Ye merry folk of Occupy.
Oft called to preach and prosletyse
To sound alarm, and radic’lise
Ye sleeping people of ye churches,
To kick them up their sleeping breeches.
For truth and justice is e’er ye mission
Of every right God-fearing Christian,
So spake ye pilgrims on their way
Of equal rights and equal pay.
Afore strode a nun spirited with God
Behind came ye hirsute, ye sick and ye odd
A flower-weaver, a mushroom gatherer,
A chariot driver who pressed close behind her
There too came a knight, Excalibur blade
Whetted and sharpened and for battle made
To take on a dragon and announce his woe
At quickening gale and melting snow.
An adept of physic and mathematics teacher
A quietly radical Wales-dwelling preacher,
Servant of Jesus in search of ye grail.
Whilst running around, chasing his very tail
A hound was there, who served well his mistress
A witch’s familiar with familiar sorceress.
Radical Kentish youths were there
With dirty gowns and messy hair
His voice was loud, his parley rude.
And in yon merry company,
Recording all were there scribes three,
Whose great black eyes did watch ye mission
Whose magick ears harkened words spoken
Recording prayer and words profane
So might we one day watch again.
One day Lord God, as they were walking,
Sent down a man who started talking
About how he began that morn’
With bitter heart and hopes forlorn
That he would ne’er behold ye day
That greed would all be rubbed away,
His cheek grew red, his eye shed tear
To spy ye party drawing near,
By parting time, his hopes were high
His hand held Times of Occupy.
With standard flapping in ye wind
Ye posse stopped at old Gravesend,
Were welcomed by a turbaned brother
And Sikhs who seek in their Gurdwara.
This noble faith did please the Quaker
As like unto his, but spiced of flavour.
With humble manner, gracefully
They ladled dhal and poured out tea
And conversed they, without hurry
See how ye bishop serves thine curry.
While wholesome tolerance they did meet,
Intolerance to milk and wheat
Smote a bowel amidst ye party
They left serene, but gravely farty.
A vicar’s wife, most pure of heart,
Drove a folk’s wagon horse and cart
With Christ at rear, symbol of fish,
With googley eyes, ye twain skew-wiff
She hauled ye stinking baggage onward
Recently skipped, presently putrid
Ye soggy canvas, socks gone rotten
And victuals that wert long forgotten
In Christian service she endured miasma
To glory of Christ, for love of Father.
She’d hail a bus, to meet at luncheon
In rustick inn where they sat munchin’.
Once upon ye pilgrim’s way
When sweetmeat, fig roll had eaten they
The pilgrims came upon a churchyard
To salute ye sun and stretch out eastward.
Each God-sent day, they were awoken,
A chorus sang of morning broken
But ne’er didst choristers e’er rehearse
And ne’er learned they ye second verse.
Rising once in Kentish pastures
To punningly punish Kentish Bankers
At Rochester, ‘neath tow’ring steeple
Occu-priests met merchant people.
Spake a deputy in bare lies
“Our Tory goals art Occupy’s!”
Pilgrims durst ask bishop that day
For fifty pounds, and if he were gay.
(The answers, shouldst thou care to know
Were yea to first, and to second, no)
Newington’s canon did with them sing
And ancient church bells did they ring
The ether occupied wi’ chimes,
They left behind ye Occupied Times.
At Faversham, ‘neath waxing moon
A farmer did join ye platoon.
Ye faithful’s grandest occupation,
A Medieval chapel at ye destination,
For morning worship, all prayed together,
Various creeds, but one Father,
Wide-wandered feet upon one ground.
Ancient stone there echoed sound
Of frocked clericks rememb’ring ye needy
And pilgrims decrying ye dev’lish greedy
And turning their God-wrought dissatisfaction
To march and strike, and t’wards direct action.
Gospel songs sung, the pilgrims a-clapping
And then ye Sikhs came tabla tapping.
In a thousand years, had old Kent’s cathedral
E’er heard drum of yon Indian minstrel?
Newington’s canon a headscarf donned
Cathedral fathers harkened with none
And in ye hallowed chapel there
Was sung an imam’s call to prayer.
And thence the pilgrims, away they went
For three days with ye wise of Kent,
To jaw with scholars and vie with clericks
On exegesis and economicks
The scribes recorded ev’ry meeting
I know not when will be ye screening.
Beneath a great and gnarléd oak
Ye pilgrims sat and traded joke
To make compleat ye past’ral idyll
Ye elder scribe did stroke his fiddle
And play his tunes, of quick and dead
As quaffing wine and gobbling bread
The pilgrims laughed, as well they might,
High spirits on midsummer’s night.
The wand’rings here are all but ended
In Kentish field, where fast befriended
Justice pilgrims bid good bye
To fellow folk of Occupy.
But who knows where, and who knows when
The pilgrims wander back again?
Jerusalem lies o’er the sea,
But the heavenly city lies within thee.
Verily, ye Kingdom of Heaven’s at hand
And hands that reach anon understand
A pilgrim i’faith goes to ye source
A seeker’s soul’s where ends ye course
Ye angels cheer when holy ghost
Occupies flesh, and makes it host.