Dr Mirabilis and the Brass Wall That Will Save England

by Konstandinos Mahoney

“How,” she muses, “do we keep them out?”
“Mirabilis will know,” pipes up the fool,
a mop-head jokester swamped in crumpled clothes,
“he’s as wizardly in truth as in trickery.”
“Go fetch,” she charges, crossing leathered legs.
Forth he bumbles, north to distant shires,
home to freckled Vikings
and offspring of the Commonwealth,
finds the alchemist hard at work
transforming foaming pottles into piss.
Brought before her, the magician marvels,
the automaton he has dreamed of making.
Off come his spectacles, the rhetoric rises,
“May a storming Brexit thunder from its cave,
and dim fair Europe to a dark eclipse.”
He smiles the way daredevil Drake once did
when busting Spain, or cloaking puddles for his Queen.
“Even if ten Boneys reigned in Brussels,
with all the power they command,
they shall not touch a grass of English ground
for I will circle England round with brass,
a shinning wall sprung from your mouth,
command and it shall ring the English strand,
bolder than the slabs that sliced Berlin,
the barricade that stays the Latin tide,
encircling like the mighty ring of Jove
from Dover to the market-place of Rye.”

Then speaks The Head, “Sovereignty” it says.
“Et nunc et semper, amen,” an owlish friar drones
(while taking selfies for his instagram).
A flash of lightning, Big Ben wakes and booms,
a witch swoops in with a frozen leg of lamb,
 “This meat is not for turning,” she declares,
and brings it down hard upon The Head – the wall is dead.

Roger Bacon, popularly known as Doctor Mirabilis, was a thirteenth century English philosopher, alchemist and friar; he believed that he could create a magical, mechanical brass head that could conjure up a brass wall that would encircle England and protect her from European influence and incursion. Elizabethan playwright Richard Greene wrote a comedy about Roger Bacon and his brass head – ‘Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay’. Text from Greene’s play is the basis of the poem.