a poem for St George’s Day by Brian Patten

 

Today, 23 April, is St George’s Day, a day which the English are notoriously bad at celebrating;  in order to kick-start patriotic interest in England’s Patron Saint, English Heritage have commissioned Liverpool poet Brian Patten to write a poem.
 
When I heard it on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning, read by the inimitable Scouse-voiced poet himself, I knew I had to share it with you.  (I had a devil of a job finding it on line, but that’s another story.  Sort of QED – how much the English care about St George’s Day or poetry or the arts, or anything much at all really. Anyway…)
 
Brian Patten pointed out that 23 April is also Shakespeare’s birthday.  (Well, we don’t actually know when Shakespeare’s birthday is, but traditionally it’s celebrated today.)  You’re supposed to wear an English rose on St George’s day, but of course it’s the wrong time of year, as they’re not out yet.  Well, I’ll put a picture of one on here instead. 

 

THE TRUE DRAGON

 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 2008

 

English rose in my garden, oh no actually it's a French one!

You can hear the item from the Today programme — including Brian Patten reading his poem — by clicking on this link:

Radio 4 podcast — poems for St George’s Day

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7 Comments on “a poem for St George’s Day by Brian Patten”


  1. […] a poem for St George’s Day by Brian PattenToday, 23 April, is St George’s Day, a day which the English are notoriously bad at celebrating; in order to kick-start patriotic interest in England’s Patron Saint, English Heritage have commissioned Liverpool poet Brian Patten to …words and music – https://jonathanburton.wordpress.com […]

  2. Clover Says:

    Not to borrow England’s glory, but a couple of the lines make me think of the photos U Da Buda brought back from his hike. This really sounds like Oregon this time of year.

    …. valleys full of light,
    The green fire of the landscape
    Lakes shivering with delight

    Thank you for reminding me to come back from where I had wandered: WordPress

  3. jonathanburton Says:

    Sorry to all you visitors in 2009 — the BBC Radio 4 podcast is no longer available.

    It’s still a great poem though.

    Happy St George’s Day!

  4. TiZa lo4ha Says:

    hi its awsome the poem i mean hi lo4ha lolarikA
    i will read it at some of the most FAMOUS!! golf club meating today(st gorge’s day) as a ulogy to hi lllllloooooo4444444 hahahaha laughter


  5. […] The busiest day of the year was April 23rd with 193 views. The most popular post that day was a poem for St George’s Day by Brian Patten. […]

  6. Betty Norton Says:

    A charming poem Brian, from one poet to another – and I’m arriving here rather late; it’s 2011 and Clayton Brook Community House is having a Saint Georges Day celebration.
    Last Year we had a vegetarian dragon and a Muslim saint Georgia. This year we having cream teas and Easter Bonnets and a dragon making conteat.

  7. Betty Norton Says:

    What’s everybody doing countrywide?


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