(interpretive note by D. Kernohan (BA Hons English Literature)
This recently discovered MS, by an unknown writer, fits neatly into the established collection of “broadside” poetry – produced at various times throughout history to disseminate courtly news to the general populace. In early modern Britain these would be largely written for oral transmission – the quality of illumination in this MS suggests that this would have been a private copy made after the described events, perhaps by one of those named therein. Though “Morgan John” is mentioned, is clear that this piece cannot be attributed to him.
At the time described (references to “Johnson the Lesser” suggest a date between 2015 and 2016) former acronyms (such as “HE” “OIA” and “HEFCE”) would have been pronounced as single words rather than by individual letter. Those seeking an authentic reading should note that HEFCE was pronounced with a soft “C” (heff-see).
Come Professor! Librarian!, Administrator!
And hear of great valour and graduate data
Charge up thy flagons! Sit close by the fire!
I sing of great courage, and of evil so dire.
When JOHNSON THE LESS held the bright HE Crown
And the doctrine of TEF spread through country and town
A band of great knights, from far and from near
To the COMMITTEE OF BIS did deign to appear
Call’d Assize to skewer this JOHNSON THE LESS
And to his foul schemes he may here confess.
For two hundred days the fair KINGDOM OF HE
To him fain must fall, all upon bended knee
His edicts inscribed on vellum dyed green
Through commons and courts are too often seen
Nary WILLETTS THE MEDDLER, nor NICK OF HILLMAN
Would dare to engender such dastardly plans.
Brave knights filled the hall as battle commenced
Arméd with no swords, but with God’s Evidence
Brave BEHRENS OF OIA, noble MARSHALL OF HEA
Proudly at battlefront thence did appear
Wise ATKINS OF HEFCE, BLACK DOUGLAS OF QAA
Knights from the west who were ready to spar
For honour of HE, ‘gainst the forces of BIS
Stood EBDON OF OFFA, who would not be dismissed
JOHNSON, young brother to he who would rule
Had thought the nobles of proud HE to fool,
Disparaging feckless “lamentable” toil
The rites of the Learnéd he thought to despoil
With TEF, a dark magic for black HE days,
A measure of learning in numerous ways,
Ignoring the wisdom of QAA he proceeded
To focus attention where it was not needed
The Knights who said “NSS”, with vigour and pride
Disputed his claims, and called out “you lied!”
Evidence brandished, and numbers unfurl’d
To prove only they comprehended this world
Sarjeant JOHNSON would blacken with hearsay and rumours
And castigate STUDENTS as merely consumers.
But the brave souls of HEFCE and OFFA and OIA
Would not let such scurrilous insults pass by
Long through the morning they battled and tarried
With arguments made and rebuttals parried
Til’ even the Scribe of the Court, MORGAN JOHN,
Cried “enough! Good sirs! this cannot go on!”
The palace of Westminster reverberated
With cries of the lost, and with blood-lust now sated
E’en LORDS OF UUK in their Tavistock Palace
Did curse the dark TEF with vigour and malice
Noon broke o’er corpse-strewn committee room
Where the forces of BIS did fall to their doom
With arguments divers and figures presented
Twas prov’n that TEF was a Perverse Incentive
And JOHNSON THE LESS, with fire and with flame
Was driv’n from the Palace in anger and shame
He swore his revenge and rethought his defences
MORGAN JOHN filed his story, and claimed his expenses.