Monday 10 October 2016

Emily Davison

She needed to feel brave.
She buttoned up her boots.
Best feet forward.

She wanted to feel comfortable.
She put on her blue serge coat.
Best hat.

She knew she was determined.
She needed not to stand out.
Breathe steady.

She strolled slowly through the throngs.
Men chatting, shouting, counting, watching.
Eyes forward.

She eased through, approached the rail.
They parted politely.
In position.

Heart pumping, hands gripping her skirt.
Starters orders had rang out.
Duck and run.

As the soft turf sapped her legs,
As the hooves cracked her bones,
As hands and arms surrounded her,
She died
Crying “Votes for Women”

© Sheila Ash, 10th October 2016



Emily Davison (11 October 1872 – 8 June 1913) was a suffragette who fought for women's suffrage in Britain in the early 20th century. She was arrested nine times. She protested by means of hunger strikes, and was force-fed 49 times while incarcerated.  In her last, fatal, protest, Davison stepped in front of King George V's horse Anmer at the Epsom Derby on June the 4th, 1913 and suffered injuries that proved fatal four days later.

There is some debate on whether she intended to commit suicide. I have taken poetic license with her story in this poem, but I have always thought that she had seen the futility of her previous protests and intended to make the ultimate statement and the ultimate sacrifice in the name of the cause she clearly felt deeply about. She was one of many who stood up to be counted in the name of social change.