Kipling: Norman and Saxon A.D. 1100

saxon

The Unit commented the other day that Jess’ influence on me was pretty obvious. He’s right, it is, and its all to the good, I suspect. I also notice that many of you go back into our archives to read her articles. (I do too!). I’ve decided we should share some of those articles, which are favorites of mine (and yours) once again on the front page. Enjoy! (Neo)

Of all the poets who have ever written about England and Englishness, Kipling did it best.  There are many poems one could choose to illustrate the theme that Neo and I are dealing with, but this is one of my favourites. I think it should be on the wall of Congress and Parliament:

“My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will
be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for
share
When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little
handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:–

“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice
right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow–with his sullen set eyes
on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon
alone.

“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your
Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole
brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained
serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise,
you  will  yield.

“But first you must master their language, their dialect, proverbs
and songs.
Don’t trust any clerk to interpret when they come with the tale
of their own wrongs.
Let them know that you know what they are saying; let them feel
that you know what to say.
Yes, even when you want to go hunting, hear ’em out if it takes
you all day.

They’ll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour
of the dark.
It’s the sport not the rabbits they’re after (we’ve plenty of game
in the park).
Don’t hang them or cut off their fingers. That’s wasteful as well
as unkind,
For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man-
at-arms you can find.

“Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and
funerals and feasts.
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish
priests.
Say ‘we,’ ‘us’ and ‘ours’ when you’re talking, instead of ‘you
fellows’  and  ‘I.’
Don’t ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell ’em
a lie!”

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About JessicaHof
Anglican Christian, evangelist, survivor, grateful

10 Responses to Kipling: Norman and Saxon A.D. 1100

  1. the unit says:

    Yep should be on the walls of Congress particularily with Boehner resigning and a possible battle for a new speaker, Rep. King of N.Y saying the “crazies” won.
    I’m little old to say…” he stands like an ox in the furrow–with his sullen set eyes
    on your own.”
    Perhaps “molon labe” and “Semper Paratus” and then when time comes “Semper Fi” are short mottos for the poem. That Congress and government should remember.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Indeed they should, and so should Cameron, I judge!

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        Rodney said he don’t get no respect. Going to have to be a new meaning of kicking the can down the road. Theirs! SCOTUS should like that as they into inferences instead of direct meaning definitions. You hoo where did the Roberts can wind up? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Yeah, i always thought words mean what they say, not so much anymore, I guess.

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          Once upon a time there were some Justices, after John Marshall who himself said the Constitution means what we say it means.

          Like

  2. Pingback: My Article Read (9-26-2015) (9-27-2015) | My Daily Musing

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