Runnymede Revisited Note: Runnymede is the location where King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta. This poem was written in the 1990s when the English nation was debating whether to join the European Union or not. “At Runnymede, at Runnymede What say the reeds at Runnymede? The lissome reeds that give and take That bend so far but never break That kept the sleepy Thames awake With tales of John at Runnymede . . . .” —Rudyard Kipling, “Runnymede” From the bow flying, by lowland route, A poison arrow to the clout: London, pricked and bled by doubt ___In mockery of Runnymede Doubt which digs a widening grave Which changes yoeman’s heart to slave And prompts the pinstriped prophets’ rave: ___“Now be an end to Runnymede!” Runnymede, near Runnymede, Where are your Bravest, Runnymede? Have these, your issue, found the way To cloud all memory of the day You brought a Sovereign to bay ___With iron and ink at Runnymede? England! Where do the inksteps wind? Take hard stock, ahead, behind Before you disappear from Time ___All compassless from Runnymede! Would you, to Europe, empty out Your very life? Your battle shout? Is all the Saxon fire gone out ___Forever from bright Runnymede? Or is there still in English blood The will to live for land and God For freedom on the sceptered sod ___That frames the reeds at Runnymede? Runnymede, dear Runnymede What say the reeds at Runnymede? They and our Past, our storied loom Cry to the English race, “Live on! Live while the sun stands bright at noon ___Bright on the reeds at Runnymede!” At last, from the Well a bill was read A fiendish epitaph which said: “Today the island Race is dead Cursed by the reeds at Runnymede!” ___The bending reeds at Runnymede . . . . The Rhyming Passageway Prologue to Kipling’s Honor From a live frustration Dying in a cage, Comes the inspiration Tumbling to the page. Through the winding cellblocks Shut and locked and barred, Runs the rhyming passageway Straightway to the stars. A university faculty (PhD University of California 1967, political science) and freelancer in his early career, Ted Hayes moved into full-time journalism and is now retired.