(Britannia derelinquit, relinque Britanniae)

And did Downing Street
and did The Times
lie about England’s
sordid schemes?
And were the lowly scams
in Iraq, Syria or Brussels

And did this ruling class
Mine foreign towns and
villages still?
And was it London
or Tel Aviv
Among these dark Satanic

Bring me my bowl of stolen
Bring me drones unwired:
Fill them with fear: the young
and old!
Destroy their homes with fire.

I will not cease freedom
to fight,
Nor shall they sleep
in their own lands
Till again we’ve
enslaved the world
With white men’s greedy,
blood-drenched hands.

• Inspired by the unparalleled sanity in Mr Twain’s 1900 hymn, memorialized by J W Howe in 1861.

  1. To be sung on solemn and sordid occasions of state to the music composed a century ago (1916) by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918). []
Dr T.P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket between the cradles of Heine and Saramago. He is also the author of Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa. Read other articles by T.P..