In Place Of Fear

Hey everyone. A poem written for the man who inspired me to get politically active. The greatest leader his party and his country never had. I refer of course the firebrand that is Jim Sillars. I hope he doesn’t mind the fact that I have taken the title of his book as the title for my poem. It’s called In Place Of Fear. I hope you enjoy the read.

In Place Of Fear

A poet knows no borders
will set no limits to imagination
recognises the world is defined by events
understands a nation is an imagined community
it has to be this way
as our thoughts are spoken
in words
written in the language we understand
yes we can learn other tongues
translate their poets views
to be read in our tongue
this skill best learned by the young
Is one Britons tended not to encourage
saying we will cope with others in our way
dismissing what as the foreign other had to say
instead they smiled telling their children
we are a united kingdom
we have an empire and we rule the world
it had changed to a commonwealth
before I came on stream
god save the king was now god save the queen
but seen through the eyes of the elite
Britain was still and would always be the centre of the galaxy
and English it’s international mode of communication
so when Westminster says it sees no borders
they are being economical with the truth
the proof lies in it’s past
god knows it’s no borders chat
is a myth
it’s crossed enough
of them
to invade and exploit
it has never identified as European
preferring the we are an island race mantra
small enough to be comfortable
but big enough to matter
except they don’t anymore
John Bull may once have roared
now he’s just ignored
ridiculed as a figure of fun
a relic from the past
picks only enemies
he thinks too weak to answer back
but the celtic tigers
will not be stopped by fraudulent labels like thick paddy
or subsidised jock
the narrow road is not our choice we see a future beyond these isles
something bigger and want to be part of it
wherever their are struggles
poets are at the heart of it
Havel, Neruda, Pearce troubled the establishment
words like gold crafted with precision
Internationalists had the vision to view the human condition through a global lens
wrote truths that nations can be friends
and diversity and difference respected
as the artificial units die
a natural death
children building futures
no longer scapegoating
blaming others for their choices speaking with our voice
a positive narrative of hope for
generations to come
we will not bang empty drums
play tunes of a mythical past
as they retreat in to the distance become no more than a memory we say yes there are borders
but this is not the same as barriers imposed by others
we need all need our personal space
where we are able to be ourselves
a nation provides a sense of imagined community
with room for a common weal
and hope in place of fear

@ Gayle Smith 2014


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