My good friend, Ben House, stirred up by thoughts of English books and the land that has spawned them in great and glorious profusion, sent me this marvelous bit of original verse:
Most unlikely kingdom of warmth and light,
Detached, aloof, on a soggy island,
Whose lesser kingdom would reach all the seas,
Whose greater empire was rule of letters.
With Celt and Saxon, Viking, and Norman
Spilling and mingling blood and mixing tongues,
Graced and blessed by legion and priest from Rome,
Raising crosses and stuttering the psalms.
England rose and conquered, stood in triumph,
Making Homer and Virgil her servants,
Perfecting Greek myths and Petrarch’s sonnets,
Breaking the bread of Rome with common prayer.
We of rebels' sons and distant daughters,
Still claim the patrimony by our blood,
Our scribblings show barest hint of features,
Our love, near idolatrous devotion.