was launched on: 26th November 1995,
this is Version: 31.5,
published on: 17th August 2020.
my bonnie Lass, of ancient, present, future times and even beyond
whose England this is, for better or worse, with Bernie’s love.
Well yes, that’s how it must have been like (back in the Great War
and through the many centuries before), that’s how it is like and will
always be like: !
Not this England of the British Empire, the great power ruling the waves,
but this that dwells in villages and small towns,
for whose inhabitants it is heart enough and who love it dearly
without beating about the bush,
this – home!
may be discovered in the following two masterpieces of English literature:
Sheila Kaye-Smith‘s LittleEngland; London; Nisbet & Co. Ltd; First published in 1918; (reprinted by Forgotten Books 2017) – of course though I detected it only a fortnight ago!
The fields were blooming with a soft yellow— the waters of the pond had faint gleam on their stagnation, and the willows were like smoke with a fire in its heart, their boughs pouring down in misty grey towards the water, with points and sparks of light here and there, as the radiance danced among their leaves.
The swell of the field against the eastern constellations was broken by the gable of the shop, rising over the hedge and pointing to the sign of the Ram. Tom’s England—the England he would carry in his heart— had widened to take in that little humped roof of mossgrown tiles. It held not only the willow pond and the woman beside it, but the home where together they had eaten the bread and drunk the cup of common things. It was not perhaps a very lofty conception of fatherland—not even so high as Harry’s conception of a country saved by his plough. Tom’s country was only a little field-corner that held his wife and his home, but as he sat there under the stars, he felt in his vague, humble way, that it was a country a man would choose to fight for, and for which perhaps he would not be unwilling to die…
(LE, Thyrza, p. 137)
It was all very still, very lovely, steeped through with the spirit of peace—not even the beat of the guns could be heard to-night. These were the fields for which the boys in France had died, the farms and lanes they had sealed in the possession of their ancient peace by a covenant signed in blood. As Mr. Sumption looked round him at the country slowly sinking into the twilight; a little of its quiet crept into his heart. These were the fields for which the boys had died. They had not died for England—what did they know of England and the British Empire ? They had died for a little corner of ground which was England to them, and the sprinkling of poor common folk who lived in it. Before their dying eyes had risen not the vision of England’s glory, but just these fields he looked on now, with the ponds, and the woods, and the red roofs.. and the women and children and old people who lived among them …
(LE, Mr. Sumption, p. 293
J. B. Priestley‘s: English Journey; First published by William Heinemann Ltd 1934 (reprinted by Penguin Books 1977)
I thought about patriotism. I wished I had been born early enough to have been called a LittleEnglander. It was a term of sneering abuse, but I should be delighted to accept it as a description of myself. That Little sounds the right note of affection. It is LittleEngland, I love.
And my patriotism, I assured myself, does begin at home. There is a lot of pride in it. Ours is a country that has given the world something more than millions of yards of calico and thousands of steam engines. If we are a nation of shopkeepers, than what a shop! There is Shakespeare in the window, to begin with; and the whole establishment is blazing with geniuses.
But let us burn every book, tear down every memorial, turn every cathedral and college into an engineering shop, rather than grow cold and petrify, rather than forget that inner glowing tradition of the English spirit. Make it, if you like, a matter of pride. Let us be too proud, my mind shouted, to refuse shelter to exiled foreigners, … , too proud to lose an inch of our freedom,
Warmed a little by my peroration, I noticed that a lamp was cutting the fog away from a charming white gate. Doors were opened. Even the very firelight was familiar. I was home.
(EJ, To the End, p. 389-390)