Friday, 23 April 2010

St. George's Day and Shakespeare

Today, April 23rd, is St. George's Day, when we celebrate our patron saint (or not, as is sadly perhaps more often the case).   St. George was a 3rd century Roman soldier, martyred for refusing to deny his Christian faith.   His emblem, a red cross on a white background, was adopted by Richard the Lionheart, and he became patron saint of England in the 14th century.   It is traditional today to wear a red rose in one's buttonhole.

The Cross of St. George needs rescuing from football and the BNP.   It is a potent symbol of our nationhood and should be proudly flown, especially today.

But April 23rd is also the birthday of the greatest poet ever born, our own William Shakespeare.   We know that Shakespeare died on April 23rd, but regarding it as also his birthday is much less certain, and it is more of a tradition than a fact.   The English are lucky to "speak the tongue that Shakespeare spake" and to be able to read him in the original.   Think of all the people in the world who can't do that and must rely on translation!   How much they miss and how fortunate we are!

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