Poems of the Week

Rhodes Not Taken

by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

“The statue of [colonialist] Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, Oxford, should be turned to face the
wall in shame, the sculptor Antony Gormley has proposed.”

The Guardian

Revere old Cecil Rhodes! It’s not his fault
He helped apartheid prosper!” That’s one view …
Offload his statue to some distant vault!
Don’t overlook his guilt, he surely knew!”
Encapsulates the view the others take …
Supporters on each Oxford side dig in:
No Rhodes defender wants the bank to break,
Opponents feel besmirched by Cecil’s sin …
The sculptor Gormley, who’s a Cambridge man,
Thinks he knows how to quell this battleground:
Allowing Rhodes on Oxford’s High Street can
Keep both sides happy if he’s turned around,
Exposing his behind to shame and pain—
Now till forever lashed by Oxford rain!