Forgotten Heroes A Poem by E.M. Gardner with a drawing by Robbie

Cornwall is a special land, its men a special breed,
By granite rocks and mighty seas their strength has been decreed,
No fear will make them bow their heads, with honour pay a toll,
And each man is his own man with an independent soul,
Their lives ordained to hardship like the cliffs that girt their land,
But whenever danger threatens “One and All” together stand.

And so in fourteen ninety seven when tyranny and power,
Posed threat to Cornwall and its men, they did not cringe and cower,
But challenged that first Tudor King and threw the gauntlet down.
Justice to win, with reason, or to part him from his crown.

In Cornwall’s depths lay treasure trove in divers lodes of tin.
That Cornish tinners gave their blood and bones and lives to win,
And in return a pittance gained, a sustenance no more.
And for home a one-roomed hovel with a beaten earthen floor.
The merchants’ hearts were yet more black than e’er the ebon ore,
They bound the miners to their will with promises of more,
Then cheated them of lawful coin. gave goods instead of gold,
Exploiting hunger, fear and want by arced for wealth untold.
Sad, pock-marked land of Cornwall. once a beauty of renown,
Ravaged to profit usurpers, the tax-man and the Crown.
But Cornishmen cried “Halt” at last and raised their wrath to heaven,
Led by a gallant blacksmith, Michael Joseph of St. Keverne,
And Bodmin lawyer, Tom Flamank, their ever ready voice,
Which gave Tom’s father, Richard, little reason to rejoice,
For Richard was Commissioner of Taxes to the King,
And feared the repercussions that rebellion would bring.

Then Cornishmen to London marched with bit between the teeth,
To face the King’s great army poised for battle at Blackheath.
What men! To face such odds without artillery or horse,
With bows and sickles to contend with Tudor’s armoured force!
Bravely they fought with little chance against superior might,
And bravely did till vanquished and their one recourse was flight.

Tom Flamank and Michael Joseph soon were caught, imprisoned, tried,
And for royal retribution in most awful manner died,
Both in public shame on hurdles drawn to Tyburn’s fearsome tree,
There to be hung, drawn and quartered, in a savage butchery.

Ever-fearless, Michael Joseph faced his death and claimed his name,
Would be permanent, immortal and of everlasting fame,
But that claim was never granted, even fame from them was took,
All remaining is scant reference in some Cornish history book.
Even their poor broken bodies rested not in Cornish soil,
But in England’s cruel clutches, as examples, left to spoil.

Henry spared all but those leaders, realising that ’twas need,
Prompted all the disaffection and their motive was not greed.
So at least their death weren’t pointless, gaining for their fellowmen,
Such respect and some small justice that they never rose again.
Now five hundred years have vanished since in horrid shame they died,
So it’s time we gave.them honour and the fame they were denied,
Let our hymns of praise re-echo, let the cliffs and valleys sing, .
Of the land beyOnd the Tamar where each Cornishman’s a King