Thursday 16 August 2018


There is no flag fluttering overhead, no patriotic symbol ‘neath which we, hand on heart, pledge allegiance.  We are just us. Nevertheless our flag marks out who we are, from whence we came or if new citizens, where we now reside.

Red white & blue the Union Flag (or Jack), a flag to signify the union of England and Scotland in 1606.  (Sadly, in this divided world of ours, ?some ?many in Scotland now wish independence.)  The Union flag bears many a stain of the blood of others, has fluttered over horrors I cannot even imagine.  I would suggest that the flags of many (most?) nations share similar shameful histories, these histories being written even now.

Am I proud to be British, English – I think I am.  If not quite proud, seeing the strife that scars the world today – I am glad I am.  I feel safe here, mostly safe, relatively safe, fearful sometimes perhaps. I think (perhaps viewing through rose-tinted glasses) that the silent majority of us Brits are okay as people.  Am I proud to be British, English – probably.  Am I proud to be human – definitely not.

Flags flutter madly,
earth signals in semaphore –
winter is coming

Anna :o]

Written for Susan’s prompt at Poets United  where she asks us to write of National Flag(s).  My response a bit of doom and gloom perhaps, but sadly, this is how I view this world of ours at present. 

Image:  Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Author:  Original flag by Acts of Union 1800 SVG recreation by User:Zscout370


Susan said...

I love the distinction you make between humanness and nationality. I had never thought to see the former more problematic than the latter. You are right, of course, and my eyes are opened. I dream of borders coming down but if/when they do, we are still human. Sigh. I, too, feel safe, probably a result of the privilege of whiteness, because many--even citizens-- in my country have never felt the protection of the "rule of law."

And, yes, to your haiku! The signs are everywhere:"winter is coming."

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

A full and varied history, the Union Jack! Giving rise to many interpretations and perceptions of its meaning. I think a lot depends on where you're viewing it from.

Sumana Roy said...

"Am I proud to be human – definitely not."....This is so heartbreaking-ly true. May be there is hope and may be there is not. The haiku end "winter is coming" points to a sad end to mankind. Sigh. A thought provoking poem.

Jae Rose said...

Far from gloomy - a real analysis of our times (thank you for your lovely comment)

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This was wonderful to read, Anna. I, too, like the distinction you made between nationality and being human. Humankind is falling down on the job in these times, led by people who put profit before planetary survival. Greed is a horrible scourge. Always lovely to read you.

Anmol (HA) said...

Ah, the Union Jack has been the most contentious flag for centuries and given the nature of our histories, it's easy to move on but rather very difficult to erase its marks on the present being lived right now.
I remember the black-outs of the early 2000s (I was a puny-little kid) in my relatively-peaceful border town during one of the many scuffles in Indo-Pak relations. Tomorrow (17 August) is incidentally the anniversary of the declaration of Radcliffe Line — the last atrocity of the colonial masters that left the land divided and the blood flowing for years. I apologize but I just don't have it in my heart to think of any of the positives of the Union Jack.

I admire your self-aware and wonderfully-articulated prose. I like how you have made it personal while keeping it subjective as well. I relate with the kind of safety these identities have derived from nation-states and boundaries.


Gillena Cox said...

Its good to feel safe under your symbol of nationhood. And yes many of us today examine our human-ness our progress tongue in cheek

Thanks for dropping by by blog Anna

much love... said...

Feeling safe is something. Being human counts more than flags. Love the haiku, Anna.

Old Egg said...

You seem to imply in your closing words "Flags flutter madly, earth signals in semaphore – winter is coming" that more unrest is likely and the break up of the union is possible. Will the Queen need her passport checked at the English - Scots border?

Vivian Zems said...

There’s so much behind a flag... and you brought out the history and meanings beautifully.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I think you are right to suggest that we English are okay. Personally I remain as proud as I have ever been to be English. I have worked in our local Oxfam shop for well over three years and the hundreds of English people I have encountered there have nearly all been well-mannered and pleasant. It's just a litmus test - an indicator - but I believe it is accurate.