Wednesday, 23 April 2008



Click to enlarge

I blogged about St George on this day last year and, if you're curious, it's maybe worth a look!

As for St George's Day, this was - from the early 15th century onwards - a major feast day in England, second only in importance to that of Christmas. Although no longer celebrated with the same fervour as in days of yore, there are those who'd like to see it revived and even made the subject of a public holiday.

If you fancy helping this process along, things you really ought to do today include wearing a red rose, flying the St George's Cross and singing 'Jerusalem'!

If you want know more about St George's Day in England (and in other parts of Europe where this generous saint has extended his patronage) you'll find a handy introduction here.

So, whatever DRAGONS you may have to engage with today, I wish you VICTORY!

Of course, as Buttons discovered, today is also the 444th birthday of William Shakespeare.

The photograph of St George in act of despatching the dragon is from a stained glass window in The Magic Barn, Massachusetts, USA, and was taken by Mandy Davis aka Diva of Deception. You'll find another of Mandy's photos from this curious location on my blog, Window Gazing: just one over 240 images in a gallery dedicated to looking at, into, or out of windows...

Image © Mandy Davis, 2008

UPDATE: 23 April 2008, 09.50 am

The Prime Minister has, apparently, suggested that all public buildings with two flagpoles should fly the English flag alongside the Union Jack.

And English Heritage have devoted a lot of its web-site to the celebration of England's National Day including countrywide events (although if you click on 'London' you get the rather pathetic result: "Sorry there are no St George’s Day events in London"), 'Dragon Trails' for the kids and a poll in which readers can vote for St George or the Dragon!

English Heritage have also commissioned an ode from the brilliant Brian Patten which re-tells the legend of St George with an eye to 21st century ecological thinking and concerns about the protection of endangered species - as well as with a couple tips of the literary cap to Keats and, naturally, Shakespeare:


St George was out walking
He met a dragon on a hill,
It was wise and wonderful
Too glorious to kill

It slept amongst the wild thyme
Where the oxlips and violets grow
Its skin was a luminous fire
That made the English landscape glow

Its tears were England’s crystal rivers
Its breath the mist on England’s moors
Its larder was England’s orchards,
Its house was without doors

St George was in awe of it
It was a thing apart
He hid the sleeping dragon
Inside every English heart

So on this day let’s celebrate
England’s valleys full of light,
The green fire of the landscape
Lakes shivering with delight

Let’s celebrate St George’s Day,
The dragon in repose;
The brilliant lark ascending,
The yew, the oak, the rose

Brian Patten


Andy J. Latham said...

I was amazed when my girlfriend told me the NOONE at her place of work knew who St George was!

Boll Weavil said...

I'd be more inclined to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday.We could all rush to Stratford for a knees up !
We don't get too many dragons round here nowadays (present company and Eustace excepted of course).Mind you, there's not too many maidens waiting to be rescued either, more's the pity...

LisaH said...

Happy Sassenach Day!
I think, Boll, that dragons have lost their street cred. as scary monsters since the Shrek films.

Brian Sibley said...

ANDY - Well, if no one knows who he is, I think it's questionable whether - as a patron saint - our George is really pulling his weight... No wonder we're in such a mess!

BOLL - Is there a direct correlation, d'you think, between the paucity of maidens and the scarcity of dragons?

LISAH - More proof of the perniciousness of Hollywood!

Eudora said...

Today is the anniversary of Shakespeare but is also the anniversary of the death of Cervantes, the author of the first great novel of the history of the literature, "El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha". And today, it is the "International Day of the Book", congratulations everybody and have a good reading.

P.D: Mr. Sibley, Where can I present a formal protest for have been censored in the last Competion. >(

Brian Sibley said...

EUDORA - Todos los elogios Miguel de Cervantes!

Thanks also for telling us about UNESCO's World Book Day.

And profound apologies for the omission of your entry to the recent caption competition...

I'm not sure what happened, but I have had a week of appalling mail problems caused by a sudden deluge of spam (as much as 3-4000 junk e-mails a day) and I fear that one or two legitimate communications - yours included - have got lost in trying to purge the trash and stop my mail provider from seizing up...

I must say, I did wonder why my regular (and possibly only) Spanish reader hadn't entered the competition.

Anyway, I am so sorry. If you can remember your caption, please send it to me and I will, at least, add it (with an explanation) to the post.

Eudora said...

Well, the protest is only a joke... I supposed that my caption had been lost in the internets highways, is usual, I know it because my job is in a 95% in, on, and about internet...

My caption was...mmm..:

(The white bellies cats): "Ssschhh, don`t look at him. I told you, this is not as distinguished as Chelsea"

Ciao and thank you for the "elogios" to don Miguel...

Brian Sibley said...

Patriotically put, Rob!