Let me sing of thee, my Lionheart,
O England, of my dreams
Where sodium lights from oil-slicked roads
On factory walls doth gleam.
Where mardy proles speak scabrous prose
In snugs and pub saloons;
Cathedral towns selling tea-towel views
On shuttered afternoons.
Shared spaces and clipped public hedges,
On bus, tube, morning train
Friday evening home for DIY
And washing in the rain.
Thermos flasks, twisted salt, boiled egg,
Picnics in the car park
Union flags salute from lamp-post jacks
Football’s national mark.
What know ye now of England’s story
If only England knows?
Less than half a sixpenny paper,
Less than the sickly rows
Of suburban villas clutched on cliffs,
Double-glazed, aerialled trance,
Corry and Talent, TOWIE, Bake Off,
Lost now in Strictly’s dance.
England’s Dreaming—Kipling, Blake and Rotten,
Our Empire’s wealth and expectations,
The ribbons of the Empire poured out
Darlo’s mills, Redcar’s forge,
Rich, black money washed from Rhondda’s vales
To the big house disgorged.
We used to build the world from this place,
Coppered, tinned and steeled votives,
The prayers of navvies, squaddies, joiners,
The foundry is a shopping outlet,
The pit a flattened park,
Garden centres in the railway works,
Naval-yard a landmark.
England’s Dreaming—Shakespeare, Caedmon, Bede
In moorland, wood and dale,
We buy the postcards of scenic views,
Rustic pubs sell bitter ale.
England! England! Blue remembered hills!
Home of my parents’ choice.
Allow my return to your faithless breast—
Homecoming now rejoice.