Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Rudyard Kipling's What Say The Reeds at Runnymede?

Daniel Hannan describes the Magna Carta as the "Secular Miracle of the English Speaking People"

King John at Runnymede, June 15, 1215, Wisconsin Supreme Court mural by Albert Herter

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
What say the reeds at Runnymede?
The lissom reeds that give and take,
That bend so far, but never break,
They keep the sleepy Thames awake
With tales of John at Runnymede.

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Oh, hear the reeds at Runnymede:
'You musn't sell, delay, deny,
A freeman's right or liberty.
It wakes the stubborn Englishry,
We saw 'em roused at Runnymede!

When through our ranks the Barons came,
With little thought of praise or blame,
But resolute to play the game,
They lumbered up to Runnymede;
And there they launched in solid line
The first attack on Right Divine,
The curt uncompromising "Sign!'
They settled John at Runnymede.

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Your rights were won at Runnymede!
No freeman shall be fined or bound,
Or dispossessed of freehold ground,
Except by lawful judgment found
And passed upon him by his peers.
Forget not, after all these years,
The Charter signed at Runnymede.'

And still when mob or Monarch lays
Too rude a hand on English ways,
The whisper wakes, the shudder plays,
Across the reeds at Runnymede.
And Thames, that knows the moods of kings,
And crowds and priests and suchlike things,
Rolls deep and dreadful as he brings
Their warning down from Runnymede!

With Game of Thrones trending in popular culture (set in a late middle age world roughly at a cultural and technological level of England 800 years ago), our "democratically elected" leaders today increasingly looking and acting like ruling families from Westeros, and many leaders increasingly disregarding the rule of law and playing to the mob, the Magna Carta is as relevant (and needed) as ever.

Mark Steyn: The Field Where Liberty Was Sown with Mark's June 15, 2015 post
George Will: Making the case for February 24, 1803
Instapundit: Why the Magna Carta still matters
Camp of the Saints: Magna Carta Libertatum at 800

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