Thursday, 9 March 2017


Nicholas van Rijn quotes Shakespeare. See here.

"'"We have fed our sea for a thousand years
And she calls us still unfed,
Though there's never a wave of all her waves
But marks our English dead..."'"
-Poul Anderson, The Enemy Stars (London, 1979), Chapter 18, p. 141.

It is Kipling. See here.

"...Nigel said stoutly. 'And there's nothing more English than leaving England and finding land elsewhere.'"
-SM Stirling, The Protector's War (New York, 2006), Chapter One, p. 50.

Sir Nigel's man, Hordle, later explains:

"'Well, it's how we got England in the first place, innit?'" (Chapter Eight, p. 237)

"...innit?" means "is it not?" and is now faithfully reproduced by immigrants learning English.

IF I should die, think only this of me;
  That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.
-copied from here.

I was born and live in the North West of England and have a British passport. My father was English but my mother was from the West of Ireland. I attended boarding school, then University, in the Republic of Ireland and learned of a different attitude to England within these islands. At school, we learned a poem which included the line:

Sasanaigh a leidhbfinn mar a leidhbfinn seanabhróg
-copied from here

 - meaning:

"I'd throw out the English like I'd throw out an old boot."

When Nelson's Column in O'Connell St, Dublin, was destroyed by a bomb, a popular song exulted:

The (G)Irish population came from miles around
To (C)see the English hero (G)lying on the ground
-copied from here (I think that the bracketed letters are musical chords)

When the British introduced internment without trial in Northern Ireland, another popular song protested:

round the world the truth will echo
cromwell's men are here again
england's name again is sullied
in the eyes of honest men
-copied from here

"The curse of Cromwell" is the worst thing that you can say in the Republic.

I like living in England and speaking and writing in this language but I do not identify with everything that is labeled "English."


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Too true, what you said about the hatred many of the Irish still have for the English. The English showed themselves at their very worse in Ireland. I would put that down to the anti-Catholic Penal Laws and the tyranny and cruelty of Cromwell.

I can't help but wonder what might have happened if the police state terrorism of Elizabeth I had not firmly implanted Protestantism in England. The Irish and English might have bumped along together not too badly if they had both been Catholic peoples. English rule of Ireland before Elizabeth I was so lax, loose, and slack that there was little cause for mutual irritation by both peoples.


Anonymous said...

Kaor, Sean!

Hmm. I don't have the facts at my fingertips, but I recall reading of some ugly conflict before England became Protestant. Even Catholic Tudors kings wanted to reward their men with land in Ireland, which did not delight the Irish. A man might be a nobleman and a vassal of the English king in English eyes, but a clan chief in his own right, who had the loyalty of his his clansmen and owed them his protection in return, in .Irish eyes. If he chose himself and his clan over his nominal allegiance, he would be at war with his overlord, whatever anyone's religion.

The human race is too talented at making a bloody mess of things.

Best Regards,
Nicholas D. Rosen

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Nicholas!

Of course I agree with your last comment about humans being too talented at mucking up things!

And, yes, there was conflict between the Irish and English before Bad Queen Bessie's time. But I would call that a more or less normal kind of conflict between human beings, when not INFLAMED for ideological or religious reasons.

And English rule of Ireland before Elizabeth I's reign was "lax, loose, and slack." It became notorious for many pre-Tudor English settlers to go native, to become as Irish as the Irish themselves.

Absent the bitterness of religious persecution by the Protestants and the tyranny and injustices of Cromwell, I can still imagine a Catholic England developing a firm, but not too tight union with a Catholic Ireland. Analogous to how Gaelic Brittany was eventually united to France.