I walked with Pliny’s ghost down London streets,
Through Saturnalia’s new festivities,
To see how England’s current take competes
With bygone Rome’s ‘December Liberties’.
The spectre spoke of how he’d always loathed
That day’s inversion of the natural rules:
The nation’s disrespectful servants clothed
As masters, that vain Feast of Fools;
Of how he liked to hide himself away
From all the hollow noise and gluttony,
Attempting to escape, just for a day,
The parties and their cold monotony.
Then, as we passed a palace on the Thames,
We spied a file of hirelings on the march,
Bedecked with crested caps, and suits, and gems,
And all the pomp of some triumphal arch.
And when this haughty troupe had swept from sight,
The shade beside me sighed: “You’ve got it wrong –
We let our minions rule for just one night,
It wasn’t meant to be the whole year long.”
With shame, I cried “Oh how’d this come to be?
Whose father’s fathers sold our rights away?
Where did we sign? And when did we agree
That servants should behave in such a way?”
I walked with Pliny’s ghost down England’s lanes,
Through Saturnalia’s grim festivity.
We saw the Nation’s masters trussed in chains,
And with us walked the ghost of Liberty.