There are those who argue that, in Auden's much-quoted line, "poetry makes nothing happen", and the English, as opposed to many European or Latin American poets, have (nearly) always preferred this elegant fence-sitting to any kind of vulgar engagement. Poetry can be crude and propagandist. It can also be subtle, intelligent and resourceful when it engages with politics and partisanship is no worse for a poet than a citizen. I am not a purist.
My contribution is in the Burns stanza I have used before, notably in my long poem Get Real! (2011). Burns didn't actually invent this stanza, though he was its best known practitioner. It is sometimes called "the standard Habbie", after the piper Habbie Simpson (1550–1620) about whom a Lament was was written in the form. It's great fun to use. I hope it is also entertaining and amusing to read.
The ebook can be downloaded for free by following the link in my opening sentence.
Like sheep who’ve scattered to the field’s high corner,
the commentariat – now hunted fauna –
The practised put-downs, and the usual sneers,
predictable pandering to baser fears,
the lazy tricks that served for years
no longer sing.
Pundits and pollsters, penny-a-liners,
effortless liars and maligners,
to Guardian or 4 no longer hack it.
The zeitgeist’s moved; they can no longer track it
and there’s a note inside the salary packet:
Chancellor Osborne’s undeterred,
and gives his underlings the word:
Class-warrior of an antique kind
he makes his colleagues of one mind
to hound the workers from behind.
of snapping Tory dogs
emerging from the autumn fogs
The ‘enemy within’ attracts their curses
(that’s dinner ladies, carers, nurses
who learn there’s little in their purses).
It’s the cult
of settling scores, unleashing dogs of war
(though strikes are fewer than before).
their arses to the saddle, salivating,
excited by the prey that’s waiting,
eased by commentators’ Left-baiting:
Their anti-union bill’s revealed,
and like a rotten fruit when peeled
inside: more harsh than any iron regime
has yet to implement, or even dream,
where strikers must declare the theme
of any Tweet
before releasing it or face a fine or gaol:
that’s Britain now where oppositions fail
Until J.C. discovers that the old and young
are eager to bite back, give tongue
to protest, scrap the song that’s sung
Its mandate twenty five per cent of votes,
the Government each day emotes:
until our ears become resistant to the sound,
detect the lie that is its constant ground,
refuse the claim that they have found
Corbyn’s no knight in shining vest,
or bright Messiah from the West
but someone who has found a way to voice
a fractured country’s need for choice,
to say we’ll make another kind of noise: