"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
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Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Cry God for Harry, England and St George!!

Today, apart from being my birthday and Shakespeare's, is St George's Day, and the Prime Minister has been instructing us to celebrate it - no doubt in the interests of "national identity" on which he is so keen. Having been aware of this day for the past 50 plus years (for obvious reasons) I have watched with fascination as this obscure feast has gradually become a major date in the calendar. This is due mostly to the fascists and the brewers who have been most assiduous in promoting that chap from Asia Minor, George, and his red and white flag which the Union Jack, one thought, had superseded as a symbol of the unity of this fractured isle. Anyway, in the spirit of things here are some good solid old English oak leaves to look at. Well, actually, they are Welsh ones, from the Radnor Forest, and are the logo of my poetry press, Rack Press. What complicated things nations are. No wonder people wrap themselves in the mindless comfort of the flag. Have a nice day!


Anonymous said...

Of all the trees on earth, few have been more celebrated and worshipped, or have played a more active role in human history. This is THE tree of the British, monarch of that forested isle; with its timber were built the sturdy ships that helped to establish an empire.

Nicholas Murray said...

I agree, it's a magnificent tree and I have a splendid example in my garden in Wales which is probably 300 years old, surrounded by a dozen more, tinier, offspring. Interestingly, many of the ships of the British navy were made of Montgomeryshire (ie Welsh) oak. My point of course is that national symbols are often more complicated than they at first seem and, in the UK, "Englishness" often turns out to be Welsh or Scottish, hence my scepticism about the attempt to manufacture something new and factitious out of St George's Day to suit political ends.

Andrew K said...

Though every country that received the sturdy ships that helped to establish an empire would probably be far less enthused by their maritime virtues than the host nation.

Nicholas Murray said...

My sentiments entirely!