England expects…

…..well, the programme Newshour does anyway. Today is St George’s Day, England’s national day. It has to be said that, speaking as an Englishman, the day tends to pass a lot of us by (as opposed to the patriotism of St Patrick’s Day for example), but not this year…

 English Heritage have launched a campaign to get us English to celebrate. And part of it is a poem from the excellent Brian Patten , one of the Mersey Poets for which is he is most famous and less famous for once coming to my school when i was a kid and getting us all to fall in love with poetry.

Here’s his poem to mark England’s day :



 St George was out walking

He met a dragon on a hill,

It was wise and wonderful

Too glorious to kill


It slept amongst the wild thyme

Where the oxlips and violets grow

Its skin was a luminous fire

That made the English landscape glow


Its tears were England’s crystal rivers

Its breath the mist on England’s moors

Its larder was England’s orchards,

Its house was without doors


St George was in awe of it

It was a thing apart

He hid the sleeping dragon

Inside every English heart


So on this day let’s celebrate

England’s valleys full of light,

The green fire of the landscape

Lakes shivering with delight


Let’s celebrate St George’s Day,

The dragon in repose;

The brilliant lark ascending,

The yew, the oak, the rose

Brian Patten

So, my colleagues on Newshour would like you to compose your own poem about England, however short, long, celebratory or cynical.

I know you won’t let them down…..




21 Responses to “England expects…”

  1. 1 Mark Sandell
    April 23, 2008 at 12:25

    Ian in London on e-mail :

    St George was out walking
    In the pouring rain
    Suddenly he felt
    A sharp stabbing pain
    He turned around and saw
    A hoodie with a knife
    Said the hoodie to St George
    “Your iPod or your life”
    “D*mn it” thought old Georgie
    “England’s gone to pot”
    So let’s celebrate St George’s Day
    On second thoughts, let’s not.

  2. 2 Will Rhodes
    April 23, 2008 at 12:44

    Happy St Georges day everyone – I will be back later with my attempt.

    I have to go out and teach the wife to drive!

  3. 3 Aubrey
    April 23, 2008 at 13:53

    St George’s Tanka (Japanese courtly poem), celebrating spring planting below stars in the spring sky:

    “The Big Dipper’s Biggest Dig”

    ‘Tis time to Plough when
    Yonder north horizon
    To the furrow harrowed:
    A dragon yoked by St George
    Embedded deep in lore

  4. 4 Brett
    April 23, 2008 at 14:07

    Thank you England for the BBC
    Thank you for sending it across the pond to me
    It is wonderful to obtain true world news
    and not get narrow US one-sided views

    But now onto Heathrow, What happened there?
    I heard one might have trouble getting somewhere
    Hopefully you’ll have it fixed so there will be no shame
    When the world wants to get there for the 2012 Games

    Theres my first attempt 🙂

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  5. 5 Abdi ,Kenya
    April 23, 2008 at 14:09

    May I Wish all English Speaking People a Happy St Georges Day!,Britons are very friendly people whereaver they are that’s why they are very patriotic citizens.I was very humbly by the English premier league fans who attend to watch live cub finals in Football Stadium especially The FA Cup Finals .You will feel the level of patriotism in them as the national anthem is recited.

  6. 6 karnie Sharp
    April 23, 2008 at 14:56

    Bill Barnert in Cambridge Massachussetts emailed:

    If you still believe that old story
    How George left the dragon all gory,
    You’ll prob’ly believe
    Any story I weave,
    And they’ll take you away in a lorry.

  7. April 23, 2008 at 14:57

    Barney Blalock emailed:

    On Saint George’s Day

    The dragon symbolized to the medieval
    a power civilized, yet evil.
    Saint George withstood this standard politic
    and met his end roasted on a stick.
    He stands for all that’s true, a maiden’s savior,
    An example for our youth of dashed good behavior.
    So as I ponder what has been said and written,
    I fail to see how it at all connects to Britain.

  8. April 23, 2008 at 14:58

    Robin – a Brit in North Carolina USA – emailed:

    With George the Patron Saint of Liars (“dragon”, indeed!)

    The English lied and claimed him of their breed.

  9. April 23, 2008 at 14:58

    “Tongue in cheek American” in Boston emailed this:

    St George Poem

    Tomato-Potato, Saint Jean-Magdelen, Not to disparage Gloucester, Worcester and Garage.
    Raleigh and Barkley, I add quite snarkly, add quite a controversy. How is one to do any reading? Especially in Reading, At least one consistency the english do forge, England, the king and St George.

  10. 10 Robin Helweg-Larsen
    April 23, 2008 at 15:00


    George being the Patron Saint of Liars (“dragon”, indeed!)

    The English lied and claimed him of their breed.

    – Robin (and Yes, I’m British) Helweg-Larsen

  11. 11 Mohammed Ali
    April 23, 2008 at 15:00

    Should we be bugged again by England St. George’s Day when there are crises all over the world that affect our daily lives. Look, let the English discuss their St. George’s Day and leave us out of it. Nobody discusses Liberia’s independence day when infact Liberia is the oldest indenpent nation in Africa with the oldest Political Party in the Grand Old True Whig Party on the continent.

  12. 12 Mark Pitcavage
    April 23, 2008 at 15:01

    St. George was a man of some note,
    Famous for the dragon he smote.
    But his girlfriends all laughed
    When he pulled out his shaft,
    For St. George was hung like a stoat.

  13. 13 gary
    April 23, 2008 at 15:02

    I don’t do poetry. Therefore, here’s something else:

    The spear pricks, the sword plunges to darkness
    An ending to beating leathern wings.
    A view of wheeling Earth and sky from memory drawn,
    evocative scents of charred life, swirls of ash and wind-borne animal shrieks, now quiet pain
    Beloved life and freedom lost. Hear this question in sulfurous whisper!
    Why me?
    George hurls through grimace and reeking mist,
    “When you are not; we are.”


    See there. I told you so.

  14. April 23, 2008 at 15:07

    Ian from Londons poetry made me laugh 😀

    England expects every man shall do his duty,
    Shine his shoes, load his gun and stand strong,
    Fight for Englands rights and Englands beauty,
    Fight for a world which might soon be gone.

    The Scots raise a glass to celebrate their poetry,
    The Welsh celebrate daffies and leeks in their way.
    The Irish drink their ginuess in their sponsered frivolity,
    We English stay quiet and hide away.

    What happend to our patriotism, where has our passion flown?
    Do we still believe the values, they fight for far from home?
    Or has the great game of football made us ashamed of what we are?
    To many links to patriotism shall be found in English bars.

    So i shall quietly say thank you, to those who have gone before.
    Quietly say thank you to those who fight on foriegn shores.
    I will say my thanks so quietly i will not let it show.
    For it is English and British, with its stiff upper lip i know.

  15. April 23, 2008 at 15:39

    Another poem from Barney Blalock in Oregon (this time under the pseudonym of “Stogey McZoot”!)

    A Poem on Saint George’s Day

    To England and Saint George,
    I lift my flagon high!
    And to the blood red cross on white,
    Unfurling in the sky.
    And to the lovely English tongue
    Used ‘cross the world in all the zones,
    And to all the charming Englishmen,
    Like Owen Bennett-Jones.

  16. 16 Maria Prytula
    April 23, 2008 at 15:59

    The BBC invites
    The listeners to write
    Their Tribute to St. George.

    It is important if he
    did not exist in flesh
    dashing about with passion
    on his handsome white horse
    looking to slay the mighty dragon
    to lay out his corpse
    thus ride the world of fear.
    What is reality if not
    a mighty idea…..
    I sleep peacefully in my bed
    an artist tapestry of fine thread
    covers an entire wall.
    The colors vibrant
    his message clear
    I need to slay some dragons
    in his name.

  17. 17 Will Rhodes
    April 23, 2008 at 17:52

    My England

    My home, my home, oh England fair
    None lapse thy love exquisite creed
    Race to heart my England dare
    Where none would walk my England lead

    Oh high once was upon yon hill
    Where battle set forth men as free
    Come here those who seek justice peace
    Let go your fear my England lead

    On castle walks men gone by
    Lived their life with duty high
    Gracious victory gone for some
    Bring home those fallen let England lead

    My England, my England oh precious home
    Care not thy attacker born and foe
    Thy cross is red as that of blood white simple flown
    Oh ask that England lead

    Wait not much more my England cry’s
    Oh perfect land of green and spire
    Home to thee my perfect peace
    My England, my England thou must lead

    As you can see – I am not a poet!!! 😛

  18. 18 Rashid Patch
    April 23, 2008 at 19:13

    England expects: A Haiku

    St. George’s Day, yes;

    but dragons are endangered!

    Dear God, save England!

    (17 syllables, seasonal reference; pause (kireji) at 2nd line)

  19. 19 Joey
    April 24, 2008 at 14:48

    I love this dragon slaying bloak.
    Joey, across the pond

    … I am American bred

    I have seen much to hate here – much to forgive,

    But in a world in which England is finished and dead,

    I do not wish to live.

  20. 20 Syed Hasan Turab
    April 24, 2008 at 21:09

    I saw a dreem:
    I am sweeming
    I meet with Dragon
    Dragon took me to Mr.Clinton
    He took me to Monica Lousky
    I complaint little tight
    Then he took me to Hillary
    I feel comfortable
    Pool was big enough to swim
    but dryout
    Iresh knows how to dry water
    Then I wake up
    Any way I saw a diversity
    Still I am in political dreem.

  21. 21 Shakhoor Rehman
    April 24, 2008 at 22:12

    Saint George never set foot in England. Perhaps that is why he is a Saint.

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