Prompted by Opher Goodwin's article describing the British as mongrels, I offer the following ditty penned last year by my alter ego, The Darn-Poor Rhymer.
A Brief History of England
From 871 to the Present
(To be sung, by those with stamina, to “While shepherds watched their flocks by night”)
King Alfred first did codify
The English common law,
Which does to everyone apply;
To rich as well as poor.
The men of Wessex ruled the lands,
The forests and the plains.
But then, along came raiding-bands;
So next, we tried the Danes.
Wise King Canute said to his moot,
While sitting by the sea,
“My friends, you may give me the boot
If one wave touches me.”
But English history has a tide
That’s predisposed to tangles;
Canute’s descendants were off-side.
So next, we tried the Angles.
King Harry nearly did manage
To stave off relegation;
He won away at Stamford Bridge!
But then he lost the nation.
That bastard William fought his way
Through ditch, and bog, and trench;
An arrow ended Harry’s day.
So next, we tried the French.
The Domesday Tax, the Rufus Stone,
Are Norman monuments;
King Henry, too, made people moan,
All at their own expense.
King Stephen’s reign was anarchy,
And monstrous were his debts;
We needed change, as all could see.
We tried Plantagenets.
To John, the barons would not cede;
Submission? A non-starter.
They forced him, thus, to Runnymede,
To sign the Magna Carta.
King Edward did expel the Jew,
And taxed haves and have-nots.
The Welshmen first he did subdue,
Then hammered the poor Scots.
At Crécy did the longbows twang,
Poitiers and Agincourt.
Again, again, the arrows sang
For England; ’twas fine sport.
Alas! The century long fight
Was by mad Henry lost.
And soon the Red Rose and the White
Were warring, at great cost.
Bad Richard’s hopes of governing
In Bosworth’s mud did squelch;
No nail, no shoe, no horse, no King.
So next, we tried the Welsh.
King Henry Eight six wives did wed;
Divorced, beheaded, passed
Away, dismissed, gave up her head,
But one did him outlast.
Soon Bloody Mary did the land
With martyrs’ gore bespot;
And Good Queen Bess remained unmanned,
So next, we tried a Scot.
King Charlie’s reign was full of tears,
The people up were fed;
So Henry Burton lost his ears,
But Charlie lost his head.
An Interregnum then ensued;
Our lives got rather gnarly.
So, as the military argued,
We tried another Charlie.
The new king tolerance avowed;
Our hopes had ne’er been higher.
But Protestants and Catholics rowed,
And we had plague and fire.
When James came king, ’twas quite a jolt.
We didn’t like it much;
There was rebellion and revolt.
So then, we tried the Dutch.
King William bred no Orange men;
Beset by many doubts,
We briefly tried the Danes again,
And then we tried the Krauts.
But England was no more. Alas!
An “Act of Union” they did pass,
Abolishing our heaven.
Three centuries we’ve had since then;
Mixed fortunes, hopes and fears.
Yet, more and more, we Englishmen
Have been reduced to tears.
Now Silly Lizzie sits astride
A throne that’s but a token,
There’s no more justice, no more pride;
Society is broken.
King Dave, King Tony, Drongo too,
Have given us no quarter;
They’d like to flush us down the loo,
Had they sufficient water.
King Alfred, if he came again,
Would likely douse the floor
With tears, at seeing evil men
Corrupt his common law.
Yet honest Englishmen, I know,
On England’s soil still roam.
And Alfred would be pleased, I trow,
That England’s still our home.