You may dance your colourful dances,
twirl strange batons, flail the sky,
stamp hallowed ground with boots of leather,
sound depths in a consecrated cry.
You may sew rubied embroidery
to clothe against the winter’s long song,
pick out old harmonies on flutes of iron
accompany yourselves on pipe and gong.
You may send your children out to the round tent
where they will perform the adult rite
to the tune of birds with curved, ferocious beaks
who teach them the lasting lore of the fight.
All this you may do as you have done
in the centuried past; but you may not
challenge the power of State or minion
by slightest tittle or faintest jot.
And when we bring paying crowds to see
quaint ceremonies, buy trinkets of cheap gold,
you will smile and caper to tunes
not of your own choosing, nor known of old.
And then you will enter the dull classroom
and learn by rote our version of dead history
where the plants have no piquancy, the trees
no shape, the forest floor no mystery.
And afterwards there will be work – the mines,
the factory – and you will make staples of fear
that mock your liberty, enact your dispossession,
and you may be at home; anywhere but here.