1066 And Before That

Early history gets an airing in this poetry collection – co-written by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens – which is divided up into five sections, beginning at the Stone Age, ending with the eponymous battle of Hastings, and taking in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome along the way. In fact, there is precious little that this title, with its 60-odd poems, doesn’t cover in its chosen timeline.

On the weightier side there are poems about Jesus, the Buddha and Muhammad, a droll proto-elegy in ‘Julius Caesar’s Last Breakfast’, and a paean to the mysteries of Stonehenge. There’s also the likes of ‘Invitation To A Cave Rave’, ‘Toothache (Ancient Egyptian-style)’, and the amusing football chant foray of ‘We Are The Anglo Saxons’. Though some of the topics covered are done so in a fairly consistent rhyming scansion, others take a more casual free verse approach. This is fine of course, but has its limits. Archimedes and Radgar Hairy Breeches, for instance, are quirkily informative on their respective subjects, but are they poems?

With its scope and colour, this is nevertheless a book hard not to enjoy, and, although the Roman Senate’s out on whether it will cause a revolution, literary or historic, it would make a useful addition to any classroom. Embellished throughout with Andrew Wightman’s unassuming illustrations.