Old Karl Marx by Ian Hill

Inspired by the work of John Clare  

A lonesome figure spurned by all

Who often sleeps by churchyard wall

Plods down the track with shambling gait

His leafy bed soon to locate.

A tangled beard all reeking now

And ragged hair on furrowed brow –

An outcast, vagrant, wanderer he

Proclaims the fact, unwelcome be.

The locals call him old Karl Marx –  

Of books and learning nickname harks

And village children out at play

Will often try to ape the way

He staggers round bereft of reason

Through the ever-changing season.

He carries his burdens without care

A life of freedom few would share

And most avoid him if they try

When passing on the high street nigh.

Just like the others, eyes downcast,

They move to pavement’s edge till past

Until a local happens to stray –  

Facing Karl in the lane one day.

A confrontation’s due at last –

The un-avoided die is cast.

In hope Karl’s passing’s over soon

The local bids ‘good afternoon’

In vain attempt maybe to try

And feign his hurriedness to fly.

Without a pause and in their pass

He sees Karl’s blue eyes flash at last.

Why ‘yes indeed my friend,’ Karl says,

‘I wish God’s bounty and his praise

And hope your day, like mine, is fine,

Worthwhile, and positively shines.’

He still greets Karl now in the lane

And always ponders to his shame

How misconceived and biased views

Result in labelling those who lose.

A lesson learned, and ne’r forgot

He’ll now for Karl more time allot.