ECCENTRIC’s THE FRONT LINE OF CIVILISATION
A Poem By Tyne O’Connell
Poets are so often written off as whimsical, peculiar or odd,
yet historically when men go to war, whatever their “principle”
t’is always the Poets and Eccentrics first to be lined up against the executioners wall.
We scare them to death, you see.
The Dandy in his purple velvet smoking-jacket,
The Dandizette in her bustled ball-gowns and richly coloured lips,
Lovers of and creators of, art, literature and pleasure,
Historically we’ve always been
The first to be targeted by religious and political zealots,
And nothing has changed.
Clearly poets and eccentrics pose a far greater threat than those who mock us care to admit.
There’s no truth in being an eccentric if you don’t accept the world is going to mock you and break your heart.
The human soul is fragile and art its only food.
When penning a poem or painting your face,
choosing a natty cravat
Or the perfect rhyme or musical score…remind yourself…
You are walking in the front line of civilisation
A target on your back.
Don’t mistake my stoicism for bravery. I am not a soldier for a cause.
I am no crusader nor meant to be.
I am certain of nothing but doubt
It is those who feel so unequivocal that chill my blood and hang my hopes out on the Tyburn gallows – to be hung drawn and quartered by the baying righteous mob.
They scare me to death.
All those feel so entitled to judge me
who possess the moral rectitude to define probity and virtue
You who audaciously condemn that which they do not understand
You scare me to death.
For judgement is a dangerous game of moral Russian roulette
And rigid righteousness the starting gate of all the blood ever spilled through time
Doubt is the backbone of art
Questions the palette of the artist
And Ideas the ink of the scribe
Back in the 1600’s when Mayfair was known as the Catholic Killing Fields it was
The sartorial subversives
and eccentrics who were slain as the Protestants and non conformists attempted to eliminate forever art beauty and pleasure from Britain.
But Whatever the battle, whatever the war, no matter how they mock us it is always we poets and eccentrics lined up against the wall
Whatever the ideals, whatever the aim, t’is always the artisans and those who question who are cast into to the flames.
For though they mock us and they sneer and ask us “what good does a poem do?”
We who celebrate a a crocodile hand-crafted Birkin or a perfectly turned glove or rank a book of poetry above a headline of moral outrage or probity …
We scare them to death
We who cherish an evening of candlelight pleasure over a political policy
We scare them to death
For though they mock us and they sneer and deride our dreams and dress, when the war drums sound, its the poets and the creators of, and lovers of art, literature and pleasure they line up first against the executioners wall.
We scare them to death you see.
Eccentrics recognise the power of clothes and words and music to transform and subvert.
We know laughter is more precious and more powerful than who is right and who is wrong.
We are, as the Cavaliers of yore – who rode into battle in fine silk velvet jackets trimmed in lace and feather plumed hats with a poem tucked into a secret pocket.
These unlikely warriors in the bloody war of attrition waged against eccentrics and dandies and all who dared to create and love art and pleasure – we owe a debt
Cromwell mounted a pogrom on poets and composers and all lovers of and creators of beauty and pleasure
Hundreds of thousands of Eccentrics and dandies were slain by the Roundhead Puritans in whose righteous certainty saw the banning of theatre singing make-up, jewellery, poetry, art, dancing, fine-food, wine Maypoles, ale-houses and even toys for children
1600’s Britain was plagued by religious zealots who aimed to obliterate creators of and lovers of art beauty and pleasure was foiled but at great loss to our historic works of art and ancient manuscripts
On 29th May 1660 the fountains flowed with champagne for a full fortnight and the there was dancing and singing in the streets.
We would be foolish to define the past from the future or one moment from another
For time is a river surging through history and the lives of the eccentrics and artists who came before us and those who will come after, remind us we all wear a target on our back and a bounty on our head.
Yet we go on penning our poems, writing our books, composing our music, creating and celebrating art literature and pleasure
Holding the line
Do not mistake my stoicism for bravery
I am no crusader nor was meant to be
But Zealots and judgemental men and women of moral certainty, scare me to death.
Those who deem Art & Literature and Pleasure of lessor value than a war for self righteous religious or political policy
Those, who are so sure of what is right
Those who so sure of what is wrong
Those who rage so forcefully on matters of morality
And claim to know the value of my soul and the contents of my heart and mind by the way I look and the way I live and love
You scare me to death
It is the poets, the artists, the eccentrics and the pleasure seekers who safeguard society
It is the sartorial subversive who holds the front line
It is the artisans, musicians, the makers of fine champagne or mixers of the perfect martini, the inky scribes and the man in a feather plumed hat who are first to face the executioners wall when the Righteous ride to war
So yes, the political and religious zealots scare me to death
And my only recourse is to celebrate beauty art and pleasure
With a fine bone china cup of tea, or Bohemian cut-crystal saucer of champagne
I find my strength in celebrating all eccentrics who came before
Remember, whether penning a poem or painting your face, or choosing a natty cravat or buying a beautiful work of art, you’re walking in the front line.
Because it is as much your doubts and fragility as your love of art and pleasure that ensures – You scare them to death