Elegy For A Queen
The media beast that must be fed
On human fodder hour-by-hour,
Just for one second, checks its power.
Elizabeth, the Queen, is dead.
That this is news no one can doubt.
The airwaves hum, the presses roll.
And cellphones buzz from pole to pole
To get the information out.
We see, we hear, the words strike deep,
And tears unbidden trickle down.
As if we could this knowledge drown
In the blissful ignorance of sleep.
But this is news we can’t unlearn,
News to punctuate an age.
News writ deep on a history-page
The grieving world is loath to turn.
So many living have not known
Another to compare her to.
She wore the only crown they knew,
Soft as a mother, hard as stone.
They came to say their last goodbyes,
From Deeside to the River Thames.
Most precious of the royal gems:
Tears for a Queen in her subjects’ eyes.
The Guardsman stands with lowered head,
And vigil keeps as mourners throng.
The ancient stones join the slow song:
Elizabeth, the Queen, is dead.
15 September 2022
This poem was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 16 September 2022.
Thank you Chris, very good.
Was it just the Queen that died, or, perhaps, what she kept alive is now freed to die with her. It's up to us
"At the end of the funeral today, the orb and the sceptre, symbolising the Queen’s spiritual and temporal authority, were removed from the top of her coffin, along with the crown, and given over to the care of the church. At that point, Elizabeth became symbolically what she had always been in reality, and we all are - small, ordinary people, naked before God.
This notion - that any power exercised by a human ruler ultimately derives from the spiritual plane - is neither British nor European. It is universal. Pharaonic Egypt recognised it, and so did Native America. The Anglo-Saxons believed it and so did the Japanese Emperors. Cultures large and small, imperial and tribal, on all continents over many millennia, have shared some version of this understanding of what the world is. Power, it tells us - politics, it insists - is no mere human confection, because the world is no mere human confection. There is something - someone - else beyond it, and if we are silent, in these cathedrals or in these forests, we can hear it still. Those who take power in this world will answer to it at the end. It is best that they know this now.
What is meaningful about this royal death is that the late Queen really believed this. So, I think, does her son, the new King. But the society around him very much does not. The understanding now is that authority flows upward from below, from ‘the people’ and into the government, which supposedly governs on our behalf. In this model there is no sacred centre, and there is no higher authority to whom we answer. There is no heavenly grant of temporary office which will one day be returned, and a tally made. There is only raw power, rooted in materiality, which in itself has no meaning beyond what we ascribe to it. There is only efficiency. There is only management. There are only humans.
I am thinking that there is a throne at the heart of every culture, whether we know it or not, and that if we cast out its previous inhabitant - and the entire worldview that went along with it - we had better understand what we plan to replace it with. Someone, or something, is going to sit on that throne whether we know it or not. I can’t think of any societies in history which have believed - as ours does - that all that matters is matter. That nothing resides above the spires of the Abbey. That there is no throne. If there were any cultures like that - well, they didn’t last to tell us about it.
As I say, I am not making an argument. I am just watching. I am just looking down from that height, onto the nave and the transept and the coffin draped in the standard, and I am thinking: I have just heard the the last post sounded for Christian England. We are in a new land now. We should pray that we find our way"
Your poem ... my simple thoughts.
"The past few days spent mourning the death of Elizabeth II, have reminded us all of a life well lived.
At the same time, astrophysicist Professor Cox reminds us that in spite of countless fruitless hours spent searching the vast universe for signs of extraterrestrial living things, not one other life form has yet been discovered.
Makes one marvel at how special we can become, and what miracles we all are".
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