Friday, April 23, 2010

And you, good yeoman, whose limbs were made in England...

May I take this opportunity to wish all my fellow Englishmen and women a very happy St George's Day. But in addition, it is also the anniversary of both the birth and death of perhaps the greatest Englishman who ever lived: William Shakespeare. And so, in tribute to him, I hope you enjoy this small section of the speech made by Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt:
And you, good yeoman
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start.
The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'
As you might expect, I'm going to celebrate in my usual way later on, so before I do, here are two more appropriately English-themed poems by the great GK Chesterton for you to enjoy:
The Englishman

St George he was for England.
And before he killed the dragon
He drank a pint of English ale
Out of an English flagon.
For though he fast right readily
In hair-shirt or in mail.
It isn't safe to give him cakes
Unless you give him ale.

St George he was for England,
And right gallantly set free
The lady left for dragon's meat
And tied up to a tree;
But since he stood for England
And knew what England means,
Unless you give him bacon
You mustn't give him beans.

St George he is for England,
And shall wear the shield he wore
When we go out in armour
With the battle-cross before.
But though he is jolly company
And very pleased to dine,
It isn't safe to give him nuts
Unless you give him wine.
Or, quite appropriately and pointedly as the General Election looms...
Elegy in a Country Churchyard

THE men that worked for England
They have their graves at home:
And birds and bees of England
About the cross can roam.

But they that fought for England,
Following a falling star,
Alas, alas for England
They have their graves afar.

And they that rule in England,
In stately conclave met,
Alas, alas for England
They have no graves as yet.


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