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Historica Britannica - a poem

Updated on January 16, 2010
Flint knapping
Flint knapping
Saxons and Normans
Saxons and Normans
Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo
Henry VIII
Henry VIII
Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I
Golden Hind
Golden Hind
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton
The Rocket
The Rocket
Royal Navy
Royal Navy
World War One Tankd
World War One Tankd
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Bus bomb
Bus bomb

The ice retreats

Spills meltwaters into the great valley

Cuts us off - them from us

We build roundhouses

We dance and laugh round the fire

We file flints for spears and hunt the deer in the dark wood

We lean sarcens in pits and align them with the sun and moon

We watch the waves crash the pebbles

And hear the crunch of Roman sandals

They turn our roundhouses square

They give us central heating in January

They send Iraqis to watch us in the north

The Romans leave via the straight roads we still drive today

The Vikings come to change our tongue

They tire of rape and pillage and marry our mothers

The Saxons sail over to marry our sisters and become our kings

We listen to Beowulf

We bury our chiefs in longboats laden with gold

We roll up our Gods and make them One

But we keep our mid-winter shindigs and call them Christian things

Canute can’t stop the waves

Harold takes one in the eye from a Norman arrow

The Normans build castles wherever they can

Now we share a King with France

We speak French in court, Latin in Church and Olde English around the hearth at home

The Plantagenets rule

At Agincourt we shoot arrows in French noblemen stuck in mud

We shoot more arrows at muslims - King Richard Crusades around Jerusalem

We shoot more arrows at each other in The War of the Roses

The Tudors win so we stop with the arrows

Henry VIII marries and chops off heads

He gives the Pope the heave ho

Queen Bess is loved by all

Sir Francis Drake sails around the world

Pinching Spanish gold stolen from the Aztecs

The Spanish get mad but their ships sink in storms (we take the credit)

And the eyes of Shakespeare’s mistress are nothing like the sun

We decide to be pirates and not to be small - we begin to steal the world

The rats come with plague - we fall down while children sing ring o' ring o' roses

A baker accidentally burns down London - and all the rats

We dress in black and Oliver Cromwell bans fun

He makes a New Model Army

We war and shoot each other

Get mad and chop off the King’s head

We’re sorry and find another King

Later we get confused and steal the Scottish King

We make a Union and get a new flag

Some of us in black leave in the Mayflower and sail to Plymouth Rock

The Navy sobers all the drunks and finds them employment

We cut down our oak trees and turn them into ships

Newton listens to an apple tell him about gravity

We steal America from the Native Americans

We steal Canada from the French (who stole it from the Native Canadians)

We sell opium to the Chinese and steal Hong Kong

We wear red coats and fight Napoleon

We are addicted to tea and tax and Boston

We’re careless and lose America out our back pocket

We build factories and push smoke in the air

We steal Napoleon and put him on an island far away

Harrison conquers longitude and latitude

At last our ships know where they are!

Our Navy rules the waves around Africa

And around India (we steal that too) and around everywhere

Cook steals Australia and New Zealand

He steals Hawaii but they get mad and kill him in the waves

Our cities grow and the people leave the country

The Beagle sails and Darwin evolves

The world map is very pink and we play cricket

Our Empire is bigger than those Roman sandal wearers

Turner invents expressionism and Monet catches on

Dickens writes and Disreali speaks and Isambard Kingdom Brunel builds

We invent trains and label everything from bugs to zebras

Our rich gentry roam the world stealing mummies and shrunken heads

They steal half the Parthenon to fill our museums

Victoria dies and Sherlock Holmes is lost in the falls

Virginia Woolf is thinking modern

D.H. Lawrence will think dirty

The Titanic sinks

Suffragettes dive in front of racehorses

Ireland is unhappy about being stolen

We stop fighting the French and decide to fight the Germans instead

We spend four years in mud

We lose half our men in trench warfare but we invent the tank

We give half of Ireland back

Agatha Christie disappears and we suspect the butler

Our Prime Minister visits Berlin on a plane

Comes back with a bit of paper saying, 'Peace in our time'

But the Germans still bomb my gran

We watch the Blitz above our heads and hide in Underground Stations

We send our children to live in the countryside

We send our Spitfires to save our pubs

We get mad and make firestorms through their cities

Churchill wins the war with words on radio

We’re bankrupt but America gives us a big loan

We give everyone free medicine

We give back India and we give back half the world

We’re embarrassed to find out we were imperialists

We invite Caribbean men to drive our buses

We’re mean to them and later on their children throw stones in the street

We still think we're important so we explode atom bombs in the Pacific

We rest for a few years then decide to become groovy

We win the World Cup (England does)

We watch America steal the moon

But we send them Beatles and steal their music

We dress our women in short skirts and get high and wear flowers in our hair

We forget our 12 times table and change our money

Oil gets too expensive so we go on strike

We sell our souls to a grocer’s daughter

We decide society doesn’t exist

So we can make money for ourselves and not feel mean

At the crossroads we believe a new man

But he takes us to war without a real reason

We march but he doesn’t listen

He jumps ship as things go bad

We follow a man with one eye

We make money from thin air to save our banks

Men from Leeds blow up the Tube

We dance and laugh around bonfires

And watch fireworks burn the air


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    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      Another dose....hope the medicine's working. Thanks Micky

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      I had to come back for another dose! Thank you Sir!

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      You're very kind Moulik Mistry. Thanks for your comment.

    • Moulik Mistry profile image

      Moulik Mistry 

      8 years ago from Burdwan, West Bengal, India

      Absolutely beautiful poem, you are very talented...

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      You're very kind LMS, thanks for the encouraging words.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You are a great poet, you have many fans. Keep up the good work.

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      Thanks Avengend glad you enjoyed this.

    • avangend profile image


      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      This is outstanding, so many eloquent yet concise expressions of history. I enjoyed this greatly, sir.

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      Think you're right, we've gone full circle...least I got a day off work this week! Cheers amillar..

    • amillar profile image


      8 years ago from Scotland, UK

      Picturesque words -

      "The ice retreats",

      But the ice returns,

      And freezes my feets.

    • hotspur profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      Thanks Nell, glad you liked it (I watch too much Time Team)...

      Cheers Micky Dee, stop by again.

      Thank-you Drwibble, I'll send the poem to the school board, wee what they think [;] your picture, are your legs dangling over a sheer drop of a thousand feet?

    • Drwibble profile image


      8 years ago from UK

      A very succulent poem. Why can't they teach history like that at school, so much quicker and more vivid

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      Hotspur- incredible! I guess the best we do is "dance and laugh around bonfires". Thank you sir!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      8 years ago from England

      Absolutely brilliant, loved it. History in a nutshell. what a great idea, wish i had thought of it!!cheers Nell


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