A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Patriotism: The Last Refuge?

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel SAMUEL JOHNSON

They say that patriotism is the last refuge/To which a scoundrel clings/Steal a little and they throw you in jail/Steal a lot and they make you king BOB DYLAN Sweetheart Like You from Infidels

Today, 23 April, is St George's Day and Shakespeare's birthday. On such a day it seems the natural thing to turn to Shakespeare's King Henry The Fifth. However, instead of the rousing and patriotic speeches of O For A Muse Of Fire or Now All The Youth Of England Are On Fire or Once More Unto The Breach, Dear Friends, Once More, I feel more like quoting the realism and grim humour of the low-born camp followers rather than the manipulative nationalism of the nobility. Cynic that I am.

Pistol: Come let's away. My love, give me thy lips./Look to my chattels and my moveables;/Let senses rule. The word is 'Pitch and Pay'./Trust none;/For oaths are straws, men's faiths are wafer-cakes,/And Holdfast is the only dog, my duck./Therefore, Caveto be thy counsellor./Go, clear thy crystals. Yoke-fellows in arms,/Let us to France, like horse-leeches, my boys,/To suck, to suck, the very blood to suck.

Caveto means "Take Care" and clear thy crystals means "wipe your eyes".

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