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king john

Two months post-thumb joint reconstruction I have a small amount of motion in the assaulted hand. Things have been complicated by a big-time arthritis flare–my hand’s way of saying “you and the horse you rode in on” for what you did to me! Anyway, none of this is any excuse for failing to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. (June 15)

Here is a poem I learned in elementary school that sums it up as well as any more scholastic tome. Years later when I read it more closely, I sensed that the barons came out with a lot more rights than ol’ Piers Peasant but still, it was a start. Thank you Eleanor–the one who wrote the poem, not King John’s mother.

John, John, bad King John
Shamed the throne that he sat on;
Not a scruple, not a straw,
Cared this monarch for the law;
Promises he daily broke;
None could trust a word he spoke;
So the Barons brought a Deed;
Down to rushy Runnymede,
Magna Carta was it hight,
Charter of the People’s Right,
Framed and fashioned to correct
Kings who act with disrespect –
And with stern and solemn air,
Pointing to the parchment there,
“Sign! Sign! Sign!” they said
“Sign, King John, or resign instead!”

John, John, turning pale,
Ground his teeth and bit his nail;
Chewed his long moustache; and then
Ground and bit and chewed again.
“Plague upon the People!” he
Muttered, “What are they to me?
Plague upon the Barons, too!”
(Here he had another chew,)
But the Barons, standing by,
Eyed him with a baleful eye;
Not a finger did they lift;
Not an eyelash did they shift;
But with one tremendous roar,
Even louder than before,
“Sign! Sign! Sign!” they said,
“SIGN, KING JOHN, OR RESIGN INSTEAD!”

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About mamatoc

A Baby Boomer learning to live in a retirement community in California.
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