Magazine article The Spectator

A Ballad from Belmarsh Gaol

Magazine article The Spectator

A Ballad from Belmarsh Gaol

Article excerpt

The guard dogs bark, the barbed wire glints,

As russet dawn unveils each day

To towers of steel and walls of flint

Weathered and worn to drabness grey.

Small sights and sounds relieve the pain:

Dew-caressed grass, blackbirds in song

Like cantors chanting the refrain

That nature's prisoners do no wrong.

Plane trees like sentries guard the flowers

By gentle zephyrs brushed and kissed,

Unlocking growth in those still hours

Of silence, peace, and wraith-like mist.

This garden knows no handcuffs, chains,

No warders' shouts, no orders, powers.

Only God's beauty lives and reigns,

Seen through the prism of cell bars.

Bars sharpen senses; tune the ear

To whispered cadences of truth

Whose gentle message casts out fear,

Rekindles fire and faith of youth.

Four bars, whom do you represent?

Are you mere gaolers, cold and stern?

Or are you sowers with intent

New seeds to plant, old chaff to burn? …

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