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Poetry Magnum Opus

Derby Day 1913


Frank E Gibbard
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Frank E Gibbard

A day important to a nation's love of equine sport has just begun,

in an island unified of purpose across the social classes all as one.

 

To see their horse of choice become the very fastest in the fray,

and relieve the course bookies of quite a few quid, as they say.

 

This Derby Day was overridden by many a punter's ardent wish,

that King George's horse might triumph adding spice to the dish.

 

On Epsom Downs in upbeat mood the boisterous crowd attended,

a sport of Kings in Summer heat no dire event could be portended.

 

That a plan known to one woman alone was very soon to be enacted,

nor the part she was about to play or how history would be impacted.

 

Well went the off, for poor and toff, a spiffing race spectators reckoned,

the King's steed made goodly speed so soon a winning post beckoned.

 

When at the front, what an affront, bold Anmer's pace was cruelly ended,

some fool had strayed, the beast was stayed, his race unduly suspended.

 

Her dastardly act it was widely thought would be the silly girl's undoing,

should she survive, she would not thrive, her troubles inevitably brewing.

 

Damn suffragettes deserve all they get was your man on the omnibus's gist,

and were she to die, surely not many would cry, and she'll not be sorely missed.

 

Emily Davison is the traitor's name proclaimed the text of the next day's daily

one certain fact English Law would act and mete out due justice at the Bailey.

 

Relief was aired, jockey Jones was spared, and thanks to God, his blameless horse,

poor Emily perished, sad mad female uncherished, much reviled for a foolish recourse.

 

On this notable Derby Day one of the weaker sex made her infamous intervention,

fell before the post in the race to vote, tweaking the coat-tails of male convention;

when due day was done that race was won by strong women, power and dissension

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There's actually a newsreel from this period, Frank, where Emily Davison can be seen throwing herself in front of the horse. We can watch the damn thing. I sometimes wonder, if the War hadn't come, whether women would have got the vote in 1918. Who was the first elected female? No, it was NOT Nancy Astor, but another woman who refused to take her seat owing to the Oath of Loyalty to the crown. An Irish woman, in fact.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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David W. Parsley

A historical fact of which I was completely ignorant until reading your account, Frank.

 

Thank you,

- Dave

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Frank E Gibbard

There's actually a newsreel from this period, Frank, where Emily Davison can be seen throwing herself in front of the horse. We can watch the damn thing. I sometimes wonder, if the War hadn't come, whether women would have got the vote in 1918. Who was the first elected female? No, it was NOT Nancy Astor, but another woman who refused to take her seat owing to the Oath of Loyalty to the crown. An Irish woman, in fact.

The famous clip short and unsweet I have of course seen, due research. About the Countess I already knew Bren, I don't think I would take the oath myself either. Someone a Labour man I liked notoriously crossed his fingers behind his back - Tony Banks, cheating I suppose but for good reason, no longer with us sadly.

Of course you're right War accelerated emancipation. Frank

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Informative and nicely done Frank. It's good to look back occasionally and make comparisons of how our society has altered and the high price paid by some to effect change. A century down the strait with many strides still to go on this and other racing cards.

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I enjoyed this piece as always for its music,its narrative, and form. Poems like this remind me of the movie 'Anonymous' where actors recite the lines and can incite the live audience powerfully.

"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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