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Translating the British

I confess I've been one of those cynics who, in 2012, decided I was SOOO not going to the Olympics, and I've always doubted the rather odd role of "Poet Laureate". But today I just began to get the point of both, when I read Carol Ann Duffy's poem "Translating the British, 2012".

I still despise the smug smooth-jowled politicians cashing in on "feel good factors", and recoil from the horrible adman slogan, "Team GB". And I still hate the nationalistic jingoism of the modern Olympics, compared to the original games of classical times, which focused on individuals not nations. One of the best things about Wimbledon is the way doubles partners often come from different countries. I'm probably the least patriotic person you are likely to meet. But if there is a (reluctant, grudging) chink in my armour, the Poet Laureate has found it.

A summer of rain, then a gap in the clouds
and The Queen jumped from the sky
to the cheering crowds.

               We speak Shakespeare here,
a hundred tongues, one-voiced; the moon bronze or silver,
sun gold, from Cardiff to Edinburgh
               by way of London Town,
on the Giant's Causeway;
we say we want to be who we truly are,
now, we roar it. Welcome to us.

We've had our pockets picked,
               the soft, white hands of bankers,
bold as brass, filching our gold, our silver;
we want it back.

Read on



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