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St. George's Day

To celebrate St. George's Day, English Heritage have commissioned a poem from Brian Patten to remind the English of what they are meant to be celebrating.

In the spirit of fairness, we commissioned Scottish poet Elvis Mcgonagall to write a poem marking the day from the other side of the border.

Read the poems below or listen to Brian Patten and Elvis Mcgonagall read their poems on the programme.

The True Dragon by Brian Patten

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

English Heritage St. George's Day Campaign
By George! by Elvis Mcgonagall

Once more unto the breach, dear Morris Dancers
    once more
Jingle your bells, thwack sticks, raise flagons
Cry “God for Harry and Saint George!”
Gallant knight and slayer of dragons
Patron saint of merry England –
And Georgia, and Catalonia, and Portugal, Beirut, Moscow
Istanbul, Germany, Greece
Archers, farmers, boy scouts, butchers and sufferers of
   syphilis
Multicultural icon with sword and codpiece
On, on you bullet-headed saxon sons
Fly flags from white van and cab
But remember stout yeomen, your champion was Turkish
So – get drunk and have a kebab

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