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This article is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

A Calvinist in Politics: Jack Clemo Donald Davie


ON THE evening of 5 June 1977, the Queen's Jubilee year, in the University Church of Cambridge, the preacher, David Martin of the London School of Economics, asked himself on behalf of his congregation:

. . . what does a ceremony like the coronation or a royal wedding have to offer me? First of all they are ceremonies centred on human relationships. It would be very good if all cultures were able to celebrate with communal rejoicing the nuptials of two people. The whole thing really does summon up the fairy tales of infancy: the beautiful princess marries and is happy. A royal wedding or a jubilee translates that archetypal aim of happiness into a contemporary reality ousting the economic and political orders of reality from our front pages. A girl gets married; that is a central fact of state. As a public ceremony one has only to compare it with an obscene row of tanks and nuclear weapons trundling past some grey group of power-hungry men to see that it belongs to a better and a more decent world. It is poetry not naked power.

But the preacher had been anticipated by several years in a poet's response to the royal wedding that I take it he had in mind: that of Princess Anne. A severely incapacitated poet in Cornwall, indisputably proletarian both by his origins and in the style of his life, had participated-thanks to ...

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