The Case Against Canute
When jeans became the insolence of the rich
We returned on principle to three-piece suits,
In the style of Clement Attlee and Stafford Cripps...
But dissidence is an ambiguous affair:
In not conforming we needed to be aware
That to go against the trend was a tactic which
Also characterised the cunning three-line whips
Of Alternative Modishness, who were equally in cahoots
With Money. "Whatever it is, I'm against it!"
Was a dictum of the philosopher Marx, Groucho
-And it worked if it grabbed attention and rang the till.
The idea was, Don't just stay there in the swim,
Devise some ingenious utterly dissim-
ilar food-or-scent-or therapy for complaints it
Was stylish to have, and in that way fulfil
The requirements of high fashion's in-and-out show.
Best of all at this was the legendary king
Whom we see as the sad victim of his rotten
Pride and self-delusion. In reality,
He'd fired the consultants who told him he should abide
By their focus-group researches of the tide,
And became immortal by staking everything
On a subtle scheme to go down in history
As the ultimate dissident. Mad, yes - but not forgotten.
I heard a lonely man in a bar
Sing Here's to animals!
-Unwittingly toasting every she
In a nearby Girls' Academy.
(Chorus of Professors:)
If he had felt any tremor of doubt
He could have left some of our students out,
Not all are perfect. But he didn't.
So-all together now-Here's to animals!
I heard a hungry man in a bar
Sing Here's to vegetables!
-Unknowingly praising every root
Or stalk or bough that provided fruit.
(Chorus of Ecologists:)
If he'd been liable to pick and choose,
He would have been content to lose
A few examples. But he wasn't.
All together now-Here's to vegetables!
I heard a sturdy man in a bar
Sing Here's to minerals!
-Rejoicing in all the age-long stayers,
Alps and Andes and Himalayas.
(Chorus of Geologists:)
If he hadn't adored every rock and stone
He should have left some of them alone,
They're hazardous. But he couldn't.
All together then-Here's to minerals!
I heard a distant man in a bar
Sing Here's to the cosmos!
-Lauding everything, near and far,
Near a big black hole in an ultimate bar.
(Chorus of Astrophysicists:)
He need not have relished each particle
And force as the genuine article,
But he did just that. All together now-
Here's to him-and here's to you-
And Here's to the cosmos, through and through!
Drink-drink-drink-to all of it,
And stay away from the black black pit.
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