Posted tagged ‘England’

a poem for St George’s Day by Brian Patten

April 23, 2008


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. 



 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