Stewart Bartlam: The Deviant Morris Dancers

Instead of pure white, the garb that was chosen
was black leather jerkin and black lederhosen.
Consigning tradition to Time’s rubbish heap
they performed to Black Sabbath and other black sheep.
In chainmail that jingled and squeaking black leather,
they practised weird movements in praise of bad weather.
No warm beer for them, but Snakebite and gin.
They danced back to front, and hailed “Winter’s come in”.
The drink in their veins led to berserkers’ rage;
their “dancing” was better confined to a cage.

Despite scenes of such frenzy, it came as a shock,
when the deviant dancers in the end ran amok.
It took little incitement to spark an affray
in a clash with some orthodox dancers one day.

At a meeting he called, the Chief Constable spoke.
“It’s scandalous! So many disfigured folk!
Abrasions, teeth missing, and bruises galore
through this sinister splinter group spoiling for war!
So much for the injured, thank God none are dead,
these rogue Morris Men are not right in the head!”

Outlawed and despised, sore in body and mind,
they had to disband (and were heavily fined)
by bell-wearers labelled ‘this evil black blight,
a stain on most Morris sides’ virginal white!’