To name but a few by Pamela Ireland Duffy

(To the proprietors of the pro-Brexit press, sundry trolls, and anyone else who tells me to shut up and get over it.)

 

Don’t tell me how to love

the country of my birth

don’t tell me that to love my country

I must be like you

and not like me

Don’t tell that you built my country

on your wealth

or won my country on the battlefield

Your wealth was stolen from the womb

of mother Africa

plundered from other homelands

painted red and called The Empire.

 

My country was not won

in far-off lands

where brave men paid the price

of madmen’s sins

My country was woven in the mills of Lancashire

from cotton picked by brothers and sisters

some called slaves,

and hewn in darkness down the pit

by coalminers

My country was carried on the backs

of common labourers

forged in the sweat of steel-workers

and fed by farmhands

working in the fields

from dawn till dusk

My country was told in folktales

wound round maypoles

danced in clogs

and gathered in at harvest time

by common men and women

just like me.

 

So don’t tell me how to be British

The Tolpuddle martyrs were British

The men and women at Peterloo were British

Percy Shelley and William Blake were British

the Suffragettes were British

the Conscientious Objectors were British

the trespassers on Kinder Scout were British

the Committee of One Hundred were British

the women of Greenham Common were British

my mum and dad who hated violence

but fought a war to stop Hitler and his Nazis

were British

the 16 million who voted to stay

in the European Union were British

to name but a few

so don’t tell me I must be like you

and not like them

and not like me.

 

Don’t tell me that I cannot love

another country

or a continent

or all the continents and oceans

of this planet earth

You do not own

the people’s heart

and you cannot define me

and I will take no lessons

in patriotism

from the rattling ghost

of Empire past.

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