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Hands off the Bard, you EU Statist Bastards!

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

Why did I quote all that? Well the EU is being encouraged to make Shakespeare…our English Shakespeare, their Euro Laureate!

The cocky little swine have already had it away with Ode To Joy for an Anthem, even when the words and music were written before Germany was even a Nation, let alone a member of the EU. Want an Anthem? write a bloody new one you lazy rent seeking gits! Something by Kraftwerk will probably do.

They’ve been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize (Which the world is still chuckling in disbelief about) and now they want Willy the Shake too!

No way Jose, Barroso and Rumpy Pumpy; You can have Shakespeare as a European Icon when you prise the Sonnets from my cold dead hand!

Who do you think he was celebrating smacking up side the head in Henry V?


  1. Leg-iron says:

    Something by Kraftwerk? ‘Vom Himmel Hoch’ would suit them. It fits the utterly discordant nature of their madness perfectly.

  2. Julie near Chicago says:

    Good point, RAB! :)

    (“Who do you think he was celebrating smacking up side the head?”)

  3. AlexB says:

    This is the classic “make their symbols ours and they’ll come around to our ways” gamibt, isn’t it?

  4. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    Sorry to piss on your parade, RAB, but yes, the Bard is a thoroughly German creation.

    You know how in the last few months we’ve have loads about the Grimm brothers? Well, they were a product of (and major contributors to) German Romanticism.

    German Romanticism and German Nationalism were two streams that fed off each other. Romanticism gave strength to the Nationalism because it offered the various German states a unifying myth. Nationalism, on the other hand, gave the Romanticism a goal to seek.

    Before the rise of German Nationalism the great model of theatre was French. The French were thoroughly enamoured with Neo-Classicalism. That is, French dramatic productions were entirely in the thrall of what the French considered to be the Aristotelian essentials of drama.

    The German Nationalists, however, discovered Shakespeare. Five acts instead of the Neo-Classical three. Story-lines that didn’t fit the Aristotelian Neo-Classical tradition. Wayhey – here were go with an entirely new theatrical tradition. Never mind that it’s English and is several hundred years old; it’s not French.

    A very large part of the German unification effort in the nineteenth century meant defining (an imagined) German culture against the French.

    In short, the whole idea of Shakespeare as the greatest playwright in the history of ever is a total myth created to unify the German states.

  5. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    Chancellor Gorkon lives on.

  6. RAB says:

    In short, the whole idea of Shakespeare as the greatest playwright in the history of ever is a total myth created to unify the German states.

    Interesting thesis you have there Philip (I’m still smiling). But the fact is that Shakespeare has been in continuous production in England since the Bard did his last re-write on Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter. We can’t help it if our Continental cousins are in awe of his body of work, his wit, wisdom and wordplay, and so jealous of it, they wish to co-opt it to themselves, now can we?

    But the Bard of Avon remains uniquely English. He is not the Bard of the Rhine or the Seine, nor did he tilt at windmills like Cervantes (though he bloody would do today for sure ;-) ) I am pleased they have enough brain cells to appreciate his genius, but that genius is the quintessence of Englishness. He remains ours not theirs, and always will be; It is only jealousy and hubris on the part of our EU partners to attempt to steal him in the first place. To try and rebrand him “European” is laughable, just like the rest of their Project.

  7. NickM says:


    “the quintessence of Englishness”

    You’re Welsh! Anyway Shakespeare is performed heavily well everywhere (esp. Germany). Some things just belong to the Universe. Like Newton or Darwin, or Maxwell or Stephenson, Locke or Smith. But we must not boast – us Brits. Oh, no.

  8. Lynne says:

    Am I the only one here who thinks the kleptocrats Eurocrats are welcome to Shaky? If the buggers tried to nick Chaucer I might have something to say about it.

  9. John Galt says:


    Quite correct, old Willy Rattledagger is much more evocative in the original Klingon, who can forget the famous soliloquy:

    taH pagh taHbe’. DaH mu’tlheghvam vIqelnIS.
    quv’a', yabDaq San vaQ cha, pu’ je SIQDI’?
    pagh, Seng bIQ’a'Hey SuvmeH nuHmey SuqDI’,
    ‘ej, Suvmo’, rInmoHDI’? Hegh. Qong — Qong neH —
    ‘ej QongDI’, tIq ‘oy’, wa’SanID Daw”e’ je
    cho’nISbogh porghDaj rInmoHlaH net Har.

  10. Simon Jester says:

    @Lynne: “This Old House” would seem to be a perfect symbol for the EU.

    Or were you talking about Mr. Wagglestaff?

  11. CountingCats says:


    I’m with Nick on this one – some of the comments seem a bit Little Englanderish.

    I have no problem with this.

    Billie the Bard was English and his words, in the original, were all written it English. Ok, but apart from that, he was a product of the European renaissance which had started a couple of hundred years earlier in Italy and spread.

    Sure he was English, but he was also part of a flowering European culture – consider how cosmopolitan his settings were – and if others elsewhere also appreciate him, then he is for the world as well.

    The EU acknowledging him in no way lessens the beauty of his words as written.

    In fact, anything to make people proud of their heritage, English, British, European and global.

    I am fine with this. Loathing the EU doesn’t interfere with my acknowledging my cultures European heritage, and loving it.

  12. NickM says:

    I see that and I’ll raise you….

    …my next post!


    My fave rendition,

    Fuckin’ dynamite. And yes, before you start, a fair few archers there were of course of the Welsh persuasion… Excellent! And of course Ken is from Ulster. I just love, “Bid them achieve me and then sell my bones” and, “We are but warriors for the working day…” (about 2:30)

    Can you imagine Cameroon or Millipede speaking such lyrics? Can you imagine Clegg? OK, the last suggestion was utterly taking ze piss.

    Other lingoes get a coffee bought. English sets the World alight with it’s infinite flexibility. We don’t have an academy to tell us how to speak. We just busk it. I know as a Geordie. It is literally sticking two fingers-up to the rest and amazingly it works because it is staggeringly powerful just as an idea. We conquered the World – not with Martini-Henry rifles and battleships but with words. In the beginning was… and all that. It is just awesome and why I blog. Because I can play with words and that is fun. Enormously so.

  13. NickM says:

    Everything that really matters is universal. Shakespeare, Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, Darwin, Einstein etc. Which is why (and I know this as true – via my bro who lived there you are as likely to have a Shakespeare production on in Osaka as in London). That is the power and the glory.

  14. RAB says:

    I think the pan European effect of the Renaissance is somewhat exaggerated myself Cats, so I’ll go with Nick’s infinite flexibility of the English language myself. What Shakespeare wrote just could not have been written in any other language.

    Lynne mentioned Chaucer. Well if we take the starting point of the Renaissance as Florence in the late 14th Century and spreading out from there, how come Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales in about 1380? Was he influenced by what was happening in Tuscany? I doubt it.

    Not only that, but with a little effort and a few footnotes, the Canterbury Tales can be read quite comfortably by a modern English speaker. You try reading German or French from the same date and they are completely unlike the modern versions.

    I was reading a book called the Discovery of France last year, very good read by the way, and in there it said that at the time of the French Revolution, which is as late as 1789 for heaven’s sake, only 11% of the French population actually spoke French as prescribed by the Parisian elite. The Bretons were speaking Breton, there were all sorts of dialects, so much so that people from one village could not understand a word the folks from the next village two miles away said. So the Paris Elite set about imposing “Correct” French on the whole country. Same thing happened in Italy. And as I have been to France and Italy rather a lot, I can tell you that it still is a work in progress.

    But yes English, with its incredible flexibility and casual borrowing of words and its sheer invention, was up and running way before any of the others.

  15. Lynne says:

    Cats, be careful who you call little Englander ’round these here parts. Quite a few of us are…Welsh!

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