.

By George!

By George, St. George! You really are a slouch.
Arise, pick up your lance, eschew the couch.
Like Patrick, Andrew, David, fill our breasts
with pride and we shall wear upon our chests
your colours—background white, a crimson cross,
since of all saints, you’re England’s saintly boss.
All hail that day you struck a dragon dead
and to a rescued damsel gave its head.

With meat and ale, each year, we’ll hold a feast
to mark St. George’s slaying of the beast,
cry, “Rorke’s Drift! Nineteen sixty-six! The Rock!”
to fish and chip shops, pubs and maypoles flock.
Forget all dull engagements, join our herd
of Anglophiles on April twenty-third;
for English folk have found the saint they seek,
no matter that the fellow was a Greek.

.

.

Paul A. Freeman is the author of Rumours of Ophir, a crime novel which was taught in Zimbabwean high schools and has been translated into German. In addition to having two novels, a children’s book and an 18,000-word narrative poem (Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers!) commercially published, Paul is the author of hundreds of published short stories, poems and articles.


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14 Responses

  1. Margaret Coats

    Paul, you make it all the more comfortable to be an Anglophile with these jaunty verses. But how about a gloss for line 11? And what’s this about maypoles before May? Pubs and fish and chip shops warm my heart, and you’ve alluded to the carvery in the “meat and ale” line. Ah, for Kentish asparagus and the hearts of cos lettuces! Cheers to you and Saint George!

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      My apologies about the lack of a gloss, Margaret.

      For those interested, the heroic defence of Rouke’s Drift (the majority of defenders were actually Welsh) was filmed as the epic movie ‘Zulu’, in which Michael Caine plays a British officer and has a plummy English accent. As for ‘1966’, don’t ask – okay, it’s the one and only time England won the World Cup, despite going close several times since, and is a sore point with most Englishmen and women. As for the Rock, no, it’s not a prison in San Francisco Bay that Clint Eastwood escaped from and Nicholas Cage got blown up – it’s the Rock of Gibraltar, at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, Britain’s only mainland European possession and much coveted by the Spanish.

      Thanks for reading, Margaret, and cheers to you, too, this St. George’s Day.

      Reply
  2. David Watt

    Paul, I also appreciate your inclusion of the English ‘chippy’ and ‘boozer’ in your lively poem. It is a curious fact that the English hero, St. George, was a Greek buried in Israel.

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      I recall that once, as a child, I was off school watching an early afternoon TV programme aimed primarily at women (there were now live morning shows then). The winner of the show’s St. George’s Day poetry competition was being announced. The winner was present in the studio and read out her poem, I believe. Then some Professor of Literature or such like proceeded to rubbish the poem, saying that although it was the best poem of the bunch they received, it wasn’t a patch on Shakespeare and the traditional poets of yore. My word, even as a kid I felt for that poor lady.

      Mind you, I’m sure that professor would have been just as horrified the jauntiness I tried to add to what has become somewhat of a trope about a guy killing a dragon and rescuing a damsel in distress.

      Thanks for reading, David.

      Reply
  3. Mia

    Imagine, St George a Greek! And a hero! They were different times then.
    I feel a poem germinating, but I only have the title so far,
    The significance of the passage of time…
    Seriously, thank you for this great poem although personally I would change the last line to
    a worthy fellow and a noble Greek.
    But I am biased!
    Happy St. George’s day to all named George or Georgia.

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Mia.

      I do recall as a child wondering why England’s patron saint was Greek, and it’s often commented upon when English people first find out. He was actually an Anatolian Greek, so these days he’s usually pegged as being a Turk.

      I’m sure the Greeks and Turks would have something to say about this.

      Reply
      • Mia

        Thank you again for your excellent poem Paul.

        I find history fascinating. For example a few years after the first Easter, St Paul, your namesake, founded the seven churches of Asia in Greek Anatolia!
        He converted many Greeks to Christianity. It is documented in the Christian Bible. He was actually Jewish but will he be thought as a Turk soon I wonder?! Perhaps in the future nationality will not matter anyway as we will all be Global citizens or serfs more like.
        It appears that St George was martyred for his Christian beliefs in about 300 AD. Fascinating that even without the internet his fame reached England!

  4. Paul Freeman

    And for all the football / soccer fans out there:

    We wear St George’s cross upon our breast
    when England takes the field against a foe,
    but not to pass a grim crusading test.
    Instead two football teams go toe-to-toe
    and so a nation’s life is put on hold.
    One hour and a half until one sees
    what separates faint-hearted from the bold,
    or extra time – or maybe penalties.

    Reply
  5. Brian Yapko

    This poem is great Anglophile fun, Paul. I’ve heard St. George’s story before but not with this level of gusto. Well done!

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      Glad to hear you found the poem had ‘gusto’ in the poem. That was what I was aiming for.

      Thanks for reading, Brian.

      Reply
  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    This is a fine poetic nod to St. George, Paul! A very happy St. George’s Day to you!

    Reply
    • Paul Freeman

      And a happy St. George’s Day to you, too. Let’s hope it catches on.

      Thanks for reading.

      Reply

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