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St George's Day. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
St George's Day.

The Englishman

by G.K.Chesterton

St George he was for England,
And before he killed the dragon
He drank a pint of English ale
Out of an English flagon.
For though he fast right readily
In hair-shirt or in mail,
It isn't safe to give him cakes
Unless you give him ale.
St George he was for England,
And right gallantly set free
The lady left for dragon's meat
And tied up to a tree;
But since he stood for England
And knew what England means,
Unless you give him bacon
You mustn't give him beans.
St George he is for England,
And shall wear the shield he wore
When we go out in armour
With battle-cross before.
But though he is jolly company
And very pleased to dine,
It isn't safe to give him nuts
Unless you give him wine.

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9 comments or Leave a comment
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: April 26th, 2008 10:19 am (UTC) (Link)

Chin, chin.

And a pint of cider for my friend.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: April 23rd, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

From Lesley Pryor of Devon Fine Fibres...

I thought of trying to get one of my goats to model a flag of St George for me today but then thought better of it! I’ve had my excercise for the week chasing the kids yesterday to give them a routine medicine for Coccidiosis. I’ve settled instead for a photo of what makes this place England in a nutshell. I hope you agree! Happy St George’s Day!!!

There will always be an England...
wemyss From: wemyss Date: April 26th, 2008 10:20 am (UTC) (Link)

We're all mad.

You do realise that, I trust.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: April 26th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: We're all mad.

...which is why we luv youse guys, and why we never drop bombs on you.

Mrs. Pryor owns the only commercial cashmere flock in Britain, and the Dutchess of Cornwall has commissioned a shawl; it was on the West Country News.

She is affiliated with the MacAuley Institute, which also practices inapproriate charms on sheep.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: April 27th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes, well.

The art of politics consists in performing inappropriate charms upon sheep.
fpb From: fpb Date: April 23rd, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I miss the puns or idiomatic expressions that evidently are the point of this poem; and that annoys me, because I usually love Chesterton. Could you explain what, in this context, "give him cakes/ beans/ nuts" means, and how "ale/ bacon/ wine" modify the expressions?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: April 26th, 2008 10:36 am (UTC) (Link)


Like 'Darby and Joan' or 'gin and tonic', these are pairings man oughtn't put asunder.

Of course 'cakes and ale' is a synecdoche for happy leisure, equivalent to beer and skittles, and has been since Sir Toby Belch was given the phrase by Will the glover's boy of Avon. Beans-and-bacon is traditional 'comfort food', as they now say on the telly ('celebrity chefs': faugh!). And in the days when one dined 'from soup to nuts', the postprandial ritual of cracking another bottle and cracking a few last nuts was not only the classic sample of otium cum dignitate, but indispensable to Victorian genre painters (alongside the Boxing Day meet, the reading of the Will, and the-father-weakening-but-the-governor-remaining-firm).

As England's patron and thus personification, George is naturally conservative. He'll fast or he'll feast, but no heeltaps and half-measures, and no new, faddish ideas about having port without Cox's orange pippins, damn it all.
fpb From: fpb Date: April 27th, 2008 12:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Certainly.

Is that all? Because I had a suspicion that some at least of the diminished expressions had their own meaning - I thought, in particular, that "to give someone nuts" would be the same as "to give a dusty answer".
wemyss From: wemyss Date: April 27th, 2008 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

I think not.

The poem in question being a part of The Flying Inn, its context suggests that, if it has any purpose beyond its own, it is a 'song against' vegetarians and teetotallers.

And is not the 'nuts'-as-dismissive trope merely an Americanism, circa Bastogne 1944?
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