John Keats’ Porridge

Reborn_ItIllustration: Elena Caldera

‘When through the old oak Forest I am gone, /Let me not wander in a barren dream, /But when I am consumed in the fire, /Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.’
–John Keats

john keats porridge


The University of Iowa Press have published
A cook-book called ‘John Keats’ Porridge’
It’s subtitled ‘Favourite Recipes of American Poets’.
It invites a curse on the compilers’ knowledge.

For Keats was a cockney who often faced starvation.
He was born in London and wasn’t American.
But thanks to its all-consuming colonial kleptocracy
He’s swallowed up by that arrogant nation.

“Beauty is truth”, said Keats, “and truth beauty”
But the University’s untruth is ugly;
Betraying the American habit of stealing others’ credit;
Of stealing their laurels and then grinning smugly.

In the same vein the US’s Pharmaceutical Companies
Try to patent other countries’ indigenous plants,
Such as the Indian neem and Peruvian ayahuasca –
The U.S. Empire’s guiding light being finance.

But to grab the world’s assets and to call them yours
Is guaranteed to create animosity:
Since 1776 the US has spent 222 years out of 239
In war – thanks to its grasping bellicosity.

By contrast Keats believed that the power of love
Was a better basis for human society
Than money-grubbing, and lies, and armed theft
Which tend to lead to social anxiety.

John Keats felt the world needed unending love
For love can repair every damage,
So for a cruel Empire to claim him as their own
Would have him choke on his porridge.

“The poetry of the earth is never dead,” said Keats
As he prayed for a Phoenix wings
To renew himself and to be forever reborn,
Still rejoicing in the earth as it sings.

Heathcote Williams



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By Heathcote Williams

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One Response to John Keats’ Porridge

  1. Viv Harris says:

    That’s really good…and yeah,they do seem to steal anything not nailed down and yet we still,as a western nation,forgive them everything imagining they give a shit about us…Well done …Keep that pse in your pocket or it’ll get nicked!

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