Made in England - John Agard

John Agard

John Agard

John Agard is a prize winning poet, playwright and children's writer originally from Guyana. He travelled the UK as a touring reader promoting Caribbean culture for the Commonwealth Institute, and his works have been on the national curriculum since 2002.

A Citizen's Tale

In the West Country I kept my vowels rolled.
Did my best Walter Raleigh impression.
Keenly blended in with the cream and scones.
Yet always was that foreign son of Devon.

Happy to be one of us and one of them
How else can we build a new Jerusalem?

I moved to Yorkshire's wuthering moors
Mingled my walk with Heathcliff's stride
Drank bitter with cricket village-style
Yet I overheard whispers of Exile

Happy to be one of us and one of them.
How else can we build a new Jerusalem?

So I upped hotfoot for the Sussex downs.
Rambled past Albion's chalk. Poppies rippling.
Minded my hedgerow while I read my Kipling
Yet neighbours took my arrival for asylum

Happy to be one of us and one of them
How else can we build a new Jerusalem?

So will this sceptered isle of Sunday roast
forever see itself as imperial host?
Or will some green and pleasant spot for home
await me between Land's End and John O'Groats?

Happy to be one of us and one of them.
How else can we build a new Jerusalem?

While flag-lovers wave their tribal banner,
a nation salutes chicken tikka massala.
I too salute spicey foods of red, white and blue
and render my dues to the proverbial brew.

Happy to be one of us and one of them.
How else can we build a new Jerusalem?

 

Copyright John Agard 2008

Disclaimer: the views expressed in the copyrighted poems and essays are the views of the author alone, and are not endorsed or otherwise by the BBC or Arts Council in any way whatsoever.

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