“Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre , mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað…”
This phrase is lifted from the ancient text, The Battle of Maldon. It is a text that I keep returning to, and not only for the fact that, as eminent scholars of Old English Bruce Mitchell and Fred C. Robinson note, ‘the poem is about how men bear up when things go wrong’. It is the fact that I have yet to find such a courageous, heartening, uncompromising, fearless line in written English. It is similarly heroic in translation, as here from the translation of Jonathan A. Glenn:
Byrhtwold spoke, raised his shield–
he was an old retainer–shook his ash-spear;
full boldly he taught warriors:
“Thought must be the harder, heart be the keener,
mind must be the greater, while our strength lessens.”
The whole idea of strength lessening is an accurate summary of the history of the British Isles in the post-war era. British global influence has waned to the point where we stand on the verge of being a recurring joke, and even the concept of the nationhood of England has eroded due to years of misrule, bad management, waning patriotism, and the championing of Britain as being the ‘nation’.
I have seen enough. Usually, a line like this would be followed with ‘it is time for change’, but this has been rendered meaningless by those making negative change, and passing it off as a new horizon, or those too weak to bring about effective change for the better. Instead, I proffer the motion that though our strength lessens, we can fight to defend what it is we stand for and who it is we are in this new ‘global’ age. That while those who purport to lead us, and who actually either fear us, or hold us in disdain, tell us who it is we are, we retain the right to self-identity, self-determination and self-preservation.
I am Byrnsweord. Ic wilcume þu.