In the wake of Edward Colston’s statue being thrown and retrieved from the Harbourside in Bristol, George Ayres reflects on history.
George is a member of Bristol Reclaim Independent Living, which gets supported by Arkbound Foundation. He constructed the first poem on the evening of the Sunday after hearing in the afternoon of the statue being pulled down and placed into Bristol Harbour; the second was on the morning of Thursday having learned that the statue had been fished out by the Bristol City Council.
Slaver in the River
High thy stand Fall by hand Now you will quiver Slaver in the River Vindicated thyself by wealth You indurated that wealth You disarticulated others’ selves You obliterated their health You rooted your wealth By looting their selves “He gave to the city!” Says gammons in pity While you placed heavy chains On souls sold to Jamaica Bay Sold for spice for your gain As they came to work in pain If they had not died on the way “Tis fair in King Charles’s day” The gammon will say Till they forgot pain That made you gain The wealth you rooted The selves you looted As done in King George’s day How can we give you pity When you robbed others of dignity? Before and after you: souls were sold Lives sacrificed in the name of gold Made to give and toil Until they became soil You sold lives for spice Now you pay the price You arise proud: now fall Down to the streets you go Stones are named after you Now: forsake you in thy call Sold now take you from their woe To finally let you go Go into the river They may not wear chains But they are kept chained Through that which you And your friends took They are set to woe As you grab them by hook Yet they never forsake Their will to be free On either side of the sea They will make the Earth shake For their dissent is old as their chains And they now have a world to gain As Haiti forced Napoleon to humility So now folks cry for their humanity To face knees on necks As their grandparents face nooses They have nothing to lose As for the pigs: go to Hell For cracking down on the doves No wonder Doctor King once spurred: “Riots are the language of the unheard” Now you whose name litters roads Do you wash the blood on thy hands? Feel no need from where you stand? You gave crumbs to the poor To golden the name of yours By selling souls for your hoard Rivers of tears gammons pour As you’re laid on the floor Till you were taken to bed In the river go your head! What you gave you stole That is the story: the whole! Man, woman, child: sold! No price too dear to hold? You had souls thrown overboard So they will not spoil your hoard Join those bodies on the waterbed! You made it: lie you in your bed! Once you stood With no good Now you will shiver Slaver in the River This poem of 92 lines is dedicated for the victims of Edward Colston and other precipitants of the Atlantic Slave Trade. I give my support to the protests of Black Lives Matter and to the city of Bristol which took to the streets in the name of justice. Solidarity forever!
Statue Fishing AKA To Fish a Slaver
Sequel to Slaver in the River By George A. Ayres At Bristol Harbour came the scene Green winding pulled by machine Metal hands pull out a metal man What do they set out? What plan For a slaver that was in the river? Set your eyes from the riverbed Of which a statue rested their head See a man deeply thinking most concise Of the lives he sold for a mighty price Before: pale guys in shorts and socks Tried to fish out the statue with rod That day their venture was faux The next day came forth a squad Who set up a much stronger rod This machine used green winding To pull the slaver out the tiding At Bristol Harbour came the scene Of a slaver fished out with a machine Oh slaver: what to do with thee? After you threw souls into the sea? Best rest your head on a riverbed? This poem of 25 lines is reflection of the recent extraction of the bronze statue of the slave trader Edward Colston from Bristol Harbour and is dedicated to his victims. Solidarity forever!