Category Archives: English Nationalism


Under the mill? c. 1912

Your hands, my dear, adorable,
Your lips of tenderness
—Oh, I’ve loved you faithfully and well,
Three years, or a bit less.
It wasn’t a success.

Thank God, that’s done! and I’ll take the road,
Quit of my youth and you,
The Roman road to Wendover
By Tring and Lilley Hoo,
As a free man may do.

For youth goes over, the joys that fly,
The tears that follow fast;
And the dirtiest things we do must lie
Forgotten at the last;
Even Love goes past.

I shall desire and I shall find
The best of my desires;
The autumn road, the mellow wind
That soothes the darkening shires.
And laughter, and inn-fires.

White mist about the black hedgerows,
The slumbering Midland plain,
The silence where the clover grows,
And the dead leaves in the lane,
Certainly, these remain.

But the years, that take the best away,
Give something in the end;
And a better friend than love have they,
For none to mar or mend,
That have themselves to friend.


Rupert Brooke

lake town

Lake Town

If Hobbiton and Rivendell are taken (as intended) to be at about the latitude of Oxford, then Minas Tirith, 600 miles south, is at about the latitude of Florence.

J.R.R. Tolkien in a letter of 1967

Middle-earth, Tolkien insisted, is not an imaginary world; it is our world in an imagined past, since when the land and seas have changed and shifted. But if The Lord of the Rings tells of Hobbits who journey from around the area of Oxford in what was once the Shire all the way to Gondor and Mordor in what is now Southern Europe, where does Bilbo’s adventure take him? Continue reading


Aliens or immigrants? Watching by the threshold

For an exercise in irony, try asking some British Jews about Muslim immigration. Perhaps because I live in Israel (and my sympathy is thereby assumed) I’ve heard a lot on this score. But almost every stereotype leveled is a modification of accusations hurled against Jewish immigrants to Britain a century ago. Continue reading

Beowulf and UKIP

Two events of the last couple of days have arrested my attention: the much hyped launch of J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf and the astonishing electoral success of the anti-EU British political party, UKIP.

What do these two events have in common? From the more or less (mainly less) interesting media pundits I’ve been reading, nothing at all. But a better awareness regarding the first might have helped stem the tide of the second. Continue reading