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For a generation, like weather cocks,
their skeletons swung near the highway.
James Price and Thomas Brown had robbed the Mail.
Years turned. The Gowy flooded and the heath
flowered. Travellers noted the bones
hanging in chains by the Warrington road.
Justices ordered the gibbet removed,
the remains disposed of. In Price’s skull,
while Napoleon was crossing the Alps
or Telford building bridges or Hegel
defining Historical Necessity
or Goya painting Wellington’s portrait,
a robin made its nest.



Note: first published April 2009.




© Copyright David Selzer
4 Responses
  • Jenny Copley May
    May 1, 2017

    David, I love this. History in a ‘nutshell’ but, no, it was a head-shell’. Your poems are so evocative that I often find them painful to read.

  • Hugh Powell
    May 1, 2017

    Always a favourite! I see playful comments are in play. So, were these unfortunate robins the rich to pay the poor?

  • Alex Cox
    May 2, 2017

    A wonderful poem. I still remember walking to school past the stocks and watching fascinated as the crows ate the remains of common criminals and apostates who had been broken on the wheel. These old traditions are almost forgotten now!

    • David Selzer
      May 3, 2017

      Thank you for your lapidary comment, Alex. Now whenever I visit the Shrewsbury Arms on the A56 and imagine the gibbet on the opposite side of the road I shall think of you.

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