Friday, 5 June 2009

Who Never Have Spoken Yet

The Secret People by G. K. Chesterton
Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget;
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.
There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheerfully,
There is many a free French peasant who is richer and sadder than we.
There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or so wise.
There is hunger in our bellies, there is laughter in our eyes;
You laugh at us and love us, both mugs and eyes are wet:
Only you do not know us. For we have not spoken yet.

The fine French kings came over in a flutter of flags and dames.
We liked their smiles and battles, but we never could say their names.
The blood ran red to Bosworth and the high French lords went down;
There was naught but a naked people under a naked crown.
And the eyes of the King’s Servants turned terribly every way,
And the gold of the King’s Servants rose higher every day.
They burnt the homes of the shaven men, that had been quaint and kind,
Till there was no bed in a monk’s house, nor food that man could find.
The inns of God where no man paid, that were the wall of the weak.
The King’s Servants ate them all. And still we did not speak.

And the face of the King’s Servants grew greater than the King:
He tricked them, and they trapped him, and stood round him in a ring.
The new grave lords closed round him, that had eaten the abbey’s fruits,
And the men of the new religion, with their bibles in their boots,
We saw their shoulders moving, to menace or discuss,
And some were pure and some were vile; but none took heed of us.
We saw the King as they killed him, and his face was proud and pale;
And a few men talked of freedom, while England talked of ale.

A war that we understood not came over the world and woke
Americans, Frenchmen, Irish; but we knew not the things they spoke.
They talked about rights and nature and peace and the people’s reign:
And the squires, our masters, bade us fight; and scorned us never again.
Weak if we be for ever, could none condemn us then;
Men called us serfs and drudges; men knew that we were men.
In foam and flame at Trafalgar, on Albuera plains,
We did and died like lions, to keep ourselves in chains,
We lay in living ruins; firing and fearing not
The strange fierce face of the Frenchmen who knew for what they fought,
And the man who seemed to be more than a man we strained against and broke;
And we broke our own rights with him. And still we never spoke.

Our patch of glory ended; we never heard guns again.
But the squire seemed struck in the saddle; he was foolish, as if in pain,
He leaned on a staggering lawyer, he clutched a cringing Jew,
He was stricken; it may be, after all, he was stricken at Waterloo.
Or perhaps the shades of the shaven men, whose spoil is in his house,
Come back in shining shapes at last to spoil his last carouse:
We only know the last sad squires rode slowly towards the sea,
And a new people takes the land: and still it is not we.

They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger or honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.

We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia’s wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God’s scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.

The Penguin


Chris said...

Chesterton (a Francophile Catholic) got it wrong: we in Britain curbed the power of church and kings about centuries *before* the Frogs.

That said, decent sentiments.

JPT said...

Well said.

sufleye said...

"And the men of the new religion, with their bibles in their boots,
We saw their shoulders moving, to menace or discuss,
And some were pure and some were vile; but none took heed of us.
We saw the King as they killed him, and his face was proud and pale;
And a few men talked of freedom, while England talked of ale."

"We have not overthrown the divine right of kings to fall down for the divine right of experts." - Harold Macmillan

Sadly we have. A spineless political class that stands for nothing, has little real world experience and craves authority without responsibility uses 'expert' opinion to batter us and our way of life. The new religion is opinion. Not fact. Not wisdom or experience. Not even results and certainly not common sense. Policies are formed with the help of 'experts' bribed to put their names to them and they are then rubber stamped into law.

We are repeatedly bigged up as having respect for the rule of law. Historically we did. Understandably so as they were our laws for our benefit and enforced by us. Not so any more.

Anonymous said...

"He leaned on a staggering lawyer, he clutched a cringing Jew"

Is the lawyer Michael 'Look at my Beautiful Hair' Mansfield ?

And the cringing Jew ? Is that Cherie Bagel ?

JD said...

Rousing stuff! JD.

hangemall said...

There was an Old English poem which mentioned something like

"men sitting in their homes, waiting to be defeated in battle," so they would get a new King/Lord less oppressive than their current one.

There is Latin quoted in this blog, can anyone point me in the direction of this poem. I have been looking for it on the net and in my local library to no avail.

I thought it would be appropriate for these times.

John Bull's aunty said...

But is there just, mayhap, a slight stirring in the undergrowth now? Or is it just the breeze drfting by?

hangemall said...

I found it. It wasn't as I remembered it from about a quarter of a century ago. It's a verse from a poem called "Deor."

"We have heard of Eormanric's
wolfish mind; he ruled men in many places
in the Goths' realm - that was a grim king.
Many a man sat surrounded by sorrows,
misery his expectation, he often wished
that the kingdom would be overcome.
That went by, so may this."


There is a connection with Guthrum!

To quote a commentary:-
"Eormenric, on the other hand, is much better known. In history he was a great king of the Ostrogoths, who died in about 375; according to Ammianus Marcellinus, he killed himself out of fear of the invading Huns. According to other Old Norse Eddic poems, Guðrúnarhvöt and Hamðismál, Iormunrekkr (Eormenric) had his wife Svannhildr trampled by horses because he suspected her of having an affair with his son. Unfortunately, Svannhildr was also the daughter of the formidable Guthrun (wife of Sigurthr, more famously known as Siegfried the Dragon-slayer), who incited her sons, Hamthir and Sorli, to go and take revenge, which they did, by cutting off his hands and feet. And so indeed Eormenric's rule was overcome."


It is known that in pagan Anglo-Saxon times that a new king would/could marry his late father's second wife. Presumably other Germanic peoples had similar customs.

I think.


P.S. Gordon Brown is a cunt.

hangemall said...

Sorry. My eyes cannot distinguish between "n" and "m" in a dim light.

Was Guthrun in the commentary.

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