This time the wind favoured us.
Six hundred vessels, canvas spread to the breeze,
Sailed out from Hellevoetsluis in evening light
Bearing North West,
Freighted with twenty thousand fighting men,
Five thousand horses, field artillery,
Bakers and gunsmiths, saddlers, engineers,
A fortnight's fodder and victuals ...
- from 'The Descent on England, 1688'
1688: England is invaded. 1691: Suppression of Ireland.
The Dispossession Game begins with William of Orange landing in Devon, at the
head of a multinational force. The seismic events of the years following altered
permanently the history of Ireland, Britain and the rest of Europe. For some it
was a truly 'Glorious Revolution'; for others a turning point in the struggle
between the great powers of England, Holland and France. And for others still,
this was the decade in which the national epic reached its tragic denouement.
The questions raised by David Chambers' long narrative orchestration of voices
- an unknown Huguenot soldier, a Brehon poet, a non-subscribing clergyman
in Belfast, Edmund Burke, Warren Hastings and WB. Yeats - resonate
powerfully today: When is it right to disregard the law? What is a terrorist? Who
is an innocent bystander? What obligations do citizens owe to those beyond
their borders? What recompense do settlers owe to the dispossessed?
Lying outside the confines of the traditional Northern Irish lyric, The
Dispossession Game engages the reader in a bracing political and ethical
confrontation. In doing so, it re-affirms and re-invigorates the notion that
poetry is both in and of the wotld.
David Chambers was born in Belfast in 1932, to a Scottish mother and a father
whose family came to Co. Down in Elizabethan times as tenant farmers. After
going to school in Belfast and to college in Oxford where he majored in
philosophy, he spent seven years in the US as a graduate student and then as a
lecturer in economics. Since that time he has lived in London, initially as an economist
first in the car and then the steel industry, subsequently as a faculty member at
London Business School. He has a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University and an honorary
doctorate from Budapest University of Economic Sciences (formerly Karl Marx University).
He and his wife Hilary, a Londoner, met when both were working in Chicago. They have