What Say the Reeds at Runnymede

Back in 1215, Some Barons of England got together on the meadows at Runnymede, on the banks of the river Thames, near London, and forced the highest and mightiest in the land, King John, to sign a document which has come down to us as the Magna Charta. This document is the foundation of all that liberalism stands for today, and its effects are seen in constitutions and basic laws around the world.

At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
What say the reeds at Runnymede?
The lissom reeds that give and take,
That bend so far, but never break,
They keep the sleepy Thames awake
With tales of John at Runnymede.
At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Oh, hear the reeds at Runnymede:
'You musn't sell, delay, deny,
A freeman's right or liberty.
It wakes the stubborn Englishry,
We saw 'em roused at Runnymede!
When through our ranks the Barons came,
With little thought of praise or blame,
But resolute to play the game,
They lumbered up to Runnymede;
And there they launched in solid line
The first attack on Right Divine,
The curt uncompromising "Sign!'
They settled John at Runnymede.
At Runnymede, at Runnymede,
Your rights were won at Runnymede!
No freeman shall be fined or bound,
Or dispossessed of freehold ground,
Except by lawful judgment found
And passed upon him by his peers.
Forget not, after all these years,
The Charter signed at Runnymede.'
And still when mob or Monarch lays
Too rude a hand on English ways,
The whisper wakes, the shudder plays,
Across the reeds at Runnymede.
And Thames, that knows the moods of kings,
And crowds and priests and suchlike things,
Rolls deep and dreadful as he brings
Their warning down from Runnymede!

Rudyard Kipling wrote the reeds at Runnymede in 1911, that’s six hundred and ninety six years after the signing of the Magna Charta. Kipling recognises the fighting and despair of the town before the signing of the Magna Charta and shows respect towards the little town, for what it has established for the rest of the world...