The Ballad of Richard III

Richard III had a funeral procession earlier today, ahead of his reburial on Friday. Here’s a light-hearted poem I wrote after the discovery of his body inspired a million television programmes:



I come back into this world

Again scarce half-made-up,

An archaeological secret unfurled

In pixels on a laptop.


I won’t soliloquize, or dream–

Monster, madman, toad, terror–

For centuries I’ve been painfully clean

Of infanticidal error.


If actors don’t stand upright

And the stages make me shout,

My spinal blights and pearly whites

Might bear that legend out.


Yet any television show

Is fiction too, because,

These dusty bones can never know

What kind of man I was.


For dialogue with worms and water

Was enough to make me see

That mankind has no earthly power

Over myths of history.


Yes, the centuries of counsel

With the drivers overhead

Finally forced the city council

To tow away their dead,


Yet even a royal story

Has little crowning glory:

Some flattering lines in the back of The Times

And an upgraded ossuary.



Callan Davies


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