“And on my breast, a red,red rose, The flower of old England wherever she grows”
– John Kirkpatrick “Saint George”
Today is Saint George’s Day. As I’ve mentioned in my St Patrick’s day post, I’m not a Christian, so as such, I don’t celebrate this as a religious festival, but as a recognition of my English heritage. There are some Christians that would prefer England’s patron saint be an Englishman, perhaps St Edmund or St Alban, however I’m resolved that IF we should maintain a presence of this foreign faith in England, that St George be it’s representative.
“Whet the bright steel, Sons of the White Dragon! Kindle the torch, Daughter of Hengist!”
– Sir Walter Scott
We have a wonderful history of thin veneers of Christendom over the still beating heart of native faith in our isles. Eire’s St Brigid is a perfect example, but for us, the legends of dragon slaying is strong. From the continent, our Germanic ancestors brought tales of the Volsungs, and among our hills we had the tale of Beowulf penned, and by a monk no less! So powerful are our stories that they cannot be denied! England knew dragons…Monks feared they might burn their abbey’s, golden dragons were raised in battle, red and white dragons fought in mystical dreams for the souls of a nation, yes, we know dragons…
So today, as per the tradition, I wear the red rose on my lapel. close to my heart. The Rose is the united Tudor rose, masterful propaganda from the turn of the Renaissance, the rose is Lancaster and York. The rose is beauty personified, fed by English rain and English soil, and deep scarlet, the colour of blood. The rose is the island, and the thorns the water that protects it. It is the English nation, haughty, hardy, beautiful, and prickly. The rose is the blood of the dragon spilled, or the heart of Fafnir when Sigeweard devoured it, or the wounds of Beowulf left by the defeated wyrm.
I don’t care much for crosses, but I love to see St George’s cross fly today as an act of defiance and celebration. Lo, may we see it replaced by the flag of the white wyrm! Keep the spirit of dragon slayers in your heart always, and today, on your breast, the red, red rose. May we gain the wisdom of our ancient forebears and may we all slay the dragons that stand before us. May there forever be an England.