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Give Thanks to the Book of Trespass

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

When you’re walking footloose and fancy-free

Along some seemingly ancient footpath,

Checking your progress on the OS map,

Senses working XTC overtime,

(Apophenia! You’re part of it all! Just look at the view!)

It’s hard to remember that this feeling

Is legal in only eight per cent

Of William Blake’s green and pleasant land.

We have been enclosed by enclosure.

That’s why our footpaths are so circumscribed:

These are not footpaths to high sky freedom,

But meanders into false consciousness

And beguiling illusions of liberty:

Pilgrims’ Progress to Herbert Marcuse’s

Conception of Repressive Tolerance,

And Robert Frost’s poem, ‘The Road Not Taken’.

We look ahead and become accustomed

To the hedges, fences, walls and barbed wire.

It all seems so normal and timeless.

We forget John Clare when near a hedgerow.

And we forget the western cowboy plains,

The industrialised warfare of the western front,

And the colonial subjugation

Symbolised by the silhouette

Of barbed wire stretching into the distance.

It was called No Man’s Land in the First World War.

That land between the lines of barbed wire.

For King and Country.

Well, eight per cent of it.

‘If you want the old battalion,

I know where they are, I know where they are, I know where they are,

If you want to find the old battalion, I know where they are,

They're hanging on the old barbed wire,

I've seen 'em, I've seen 'em, hanging on the old barbed wire.

I've seen 'em, I've seen 'em, hanging on the old barbed wire.’


Written after reading The Book of Trespass by Nick Hayes - inspiring! Totally recommended.


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