Ron Butlin's poem dedicated to ALCS
Ron Butlin, Scottish Poet Laureate (or Makar) speaking at the House of Lords on 27 June 2012 gave a special dedication to ALCS in the Society's 35th year.
TAKING OUR CUE FROM GOD
(Celebrating ALCS – 1977-2012)
Thirty-five years ago God gave his most recent universe
the once-over – a reality check on all those protons, neutrons
and electrons who’d gone their own sweet way ever since
that First Divine Shove.
Empires and pyramids? Paperclips, plastic, and McDonalds?
Margaret Thatcher as Minister for Education?
Being omniscient, He knew even worse was to come –
a neo-verbalised bewildering spew of Devil’s spawn:
‘pirate downloads’ ‘e-books’ ‘kindle’ ‘googled Chaucer’,
And, beneath it all, the Tomb of the Midlist Author.
. . . And God wept.
God often weeps. Then sighs.
Then dries His eyes.
But in 1977 He could not settle back in heaven.
He’d seen nations unworthy of the name
photocopying wholesale, without shame.
He’d heard of five-act plays, of talks and stories that
were broadcast gratis worldwide – no penny in the hat,
no rouble, drachma, lira, Thailand baht
came home to needy authors who
then grew papyrus pale-and-thin, their royalties few
and far between. Live upon a publisher’s advance?
Not copyright, but copy free’d become systemic,
from backstreet press to academic.
Moved by sorrow, God then acted out of Love –
and gave the universe a Second Shove.
Holy finger raised on high
He wrote a message in the sky,
letters in fire. Their meaning? Anybody’s guess –
A . . . L . . . C . . . S?
Fast forward to the present day,
this pleasure-land of politics at play
among the hedge funds,
where baled-out bankers ease the strain
with extra magnums of champagne.
A threatened euro, falling pound?
Austerity the Master Plan?
– the logic’s sound
as denying food to a starving man!
When common sense has lost all clout
– art cut to the bone and the bone cut out,
and creativity debased
to electronic cut and paste –
what’s left for the likes of me and you
except to write our hearts out? Nothing less will do . . .
Afterwards we’ll publish where we can, then take our cue
from God – we’ll all give thanks, and bless
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