Occupied Chaucer

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

A Frenchman who despised ye food

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.

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