Poem for Tony Benn

At the memorial to Tony Benn held in Bristol on May 1st the Bristol-based poet Miles Chambers performed a wonderful tribute to Tony Benn, which he’d written especially for the occasion. I hope we’ll get the video footage up at some point, but for  now, here are the words. Not just a tribute, but a call to arms.

TONY BENN

You dared to be a Daniel
Dared to stand alone
Dared to have a purpose firm!
Dared to make it known

The aristocratic gentleman of peerage
Who won the hearts of millions of working class men

You swapped your silver spoon for a stainless steel one
but… kept your golden tongue which took you all the way to Big Ben

That familiar smoking pipe of comfort and authority, illustrates
your articulation, your privileged upbringing, your education, and your charm

The romantic side, which bought the park bench that you proposed on
Symbolizing a loving wife who protected you from harm!

You lived a good life, wanting for nothing… But your struggles were not in vain
Quite often at a sacrifice to yourself with little personal gain

Thank you for the privilege of meeting you, of experiencing you
You were not always right… but you were convicted with everything you do

Thank you for not failing to understand, for not failing to relate
for speaking for the voice of the oppressed

Thank you for fighting for the downtrodden despite your position,
ensuring we were heard and we got a portion of the best

You weren’t always right
but you were always 100% into the fight

Master of technology, whizz-kid electronically
Concorde given a home in the city
Nuclear powered lights making Bristol look pretty
War in Iraq should not have been a possibility

 Black people love you Tony for joining with Paul against the racial
discrimination which tried to keep us back

We love you Tony for cutting out the nonsense
and helping form the race relations act

We can see when you looked at us Tony
you didn’t see class or sex or people of a different race

You saw injustice, possibilities, potential,
Hearts full of conviction and passion just like you

Black people love you TONY, ‘cause you stood up
for our cause despite how the oppressor made a fuss

We wanted to make you one of the Brothers show you
how to cook curry goat, bang dominoes and teach you how to cuss!

Touring the country You’re the People’s King
Making us aware of corrupt systems, whilst charmingly engaging

We were fixed in attention at your rantings
Inspired and informed by your sincerity
Challenged, perplexed, confronted by your discourse

You left us thinking rise up to injustice and be the best that you can be
We can be ourselves, be all that we are and do all we want to do!

Rise up and speak when you know things are just not right

It’s just us, we all have to live together in the same place, right here and now
Let’s make good for all of us just believe we can, don’t worry about how

Tony… We’ll not be afraid to shine a light
Put a candle on what’s not right

Let it shine from the hilltops
Make it known until injustice stops

Carry your candle run to the darkness
Seek out the lonely the tired and worn
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle and go light your world

Let’s dare to be a Daniel
Dare to stand alone
Dare to have a purpose firm!
And dare to make it known

 

 

Tony Benn

 

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