WITH BANNERS HELD HIGH 2019

WBHH

I was asked by the amazing people at With Banners Held High to write a poem to sum up the festival and what it stands for.

So I did.

It has been incorporated into these posters to help promote the event which takes place in Wakefield on Saturday May 18th.

In exchange we have been offered a stall for WE SHALL OVERCOME 2019, so anyone attending the event can drop off donations of food, warm clothing, toiletries and sanitary towels for #WSO2019 and we will distribute them according to need.

Here goes:

I was asked by the amazing people at With Banners Held High to write a poem to sum up the festival and what it stands for.

Here goes:

WITH BANNERS HELD HIGH

A gang of young lads laughed
And passed round a joint:
“It’s just a rag and two poles!”
One said, “What’s the point?”
With a shrug and a sneer
They were walking away,
When I saw an old man move
To stand in their way.
Though frail and outnumbered
That man stood his ground,
And with fire in his eyes
He said: “Boys, turn around.
And I’ll tell you a tale
From a time long ago.
You asked: ‘What’s the point?’
When I’ve finished you’ll know.

For hundreds of years
People like you and me,
Have been crushed in the spirit,
And kept in poverty.
In August of 1819 fifteen died,
And that Peterloo banner?
Their ghosts stand at its side.
The Tolpuddle Martyrs 1834,
They spoke up in hunger
When that broke the law;
They were shipped to Australia
But did not stand alone,
And it was people with banners
Who had them shipped home.
There were Matchgirls and Dockers
And Suffragists who
Fought for votes and fair wages,
Bank Holidays too;
There were marchers from Jarrow,
Petition in hand;
Folk who kept Mosley’s Blackshirts
From taking this land;
When times grew still harder,
And fascism came,
There were brave men and women
Who fought it in Spain;
They marched and they rallied,
They fought and they died;
They stood up for truth
When their government lied;
From tap on the shoulder
To Dock Labour Scheme;
From starving in squalor
To daring to dream;
From Headscarf Revolution,
Back to George Square;
From Orgreave to Wapping
These banners were there.”
With that he fell silent,
And after a pause
Said: “This Struggle is not only theirs, boys,
It’s yours.
It’s beats in your hearts
It runs through your veins,
It’s a yearning for justice,
To shake off these chains.
It’s a burning defiance
That’s locked in your soul
And it’s raised up as that there:
‘A rag and two poles’.
When we’re dead and gone
They’ll be marching here still
Cos we’re part of something
That power can’t kill.
We are the spirit
That will never die.
And that’s why we march here
With Banners Held High.”

Join us on the day and let’s celebrate the achievements of Working Class unity and solidarity, together.

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