Thursday, July 15, 2010

A song

The internet may or may not be destroying your concentration span, but it retains the ability to delight. On finishing Sheila Rowbotham's biography of Edward Carpenter, I was struck by her account of how many of his friends and colleagues celebrated his life by singing the socialist anthem that he wrote, England Arise. But what did it sound like?

The words and music are available, but I can't read music and the contemporary feel would be missing. And, once again, the internet comes to the rescue, this time through the Bishopsgate Institute, an adult education centre with an extraordinary collection of radical material (even more apt as Carpenter's career as a radical started with him teaching university extension courses). It has a number of early sound recordings of radical songs including a 1925 recording of England Arise, made four years before Carpenter's death in 1929.

I find the hopeful utopianism of the period both poignant and moving. So click here and, if you like, sing along to the words below:

England, arise! The long, long night is over,
Faint in the East behold the dawn appear,
Out of your evil dream of toil and sorrow –
Arise, O England, for the day is here!
From your fields and hills,
Hark! The answer swells –
Arise, O England, for the day is here!

People of England! All your valleys call you,
High in the rising sun the lark sings clear,
Will you dream on, let shameful slumber thrall you?
Will you disown your native land so dear?
Shall it die unheard –
That sweet pleading word?
Arise, O England, for the day is here!

Over your face a web of lies is woven,
Laws that are falsehoods pin you to the ground,
Labour is mocked, its just reward is stolen,
On its bent back sits Idleness encrowned.
How long, while you sleep,
Your harvest shall it reap?
Arise, O England, for the day is here!

Forth, then, ye heroes, patriots and lovers!
Comrades of danger, poverty and scorn!
Mighty in faith of Freedom, your great Mother!
Giants refreshed in Joy’s new rising morn!
Come and swell the song,
Silent now so long;
England is risen, and the day is here!


Overtired and emotional said...

Good stuff, a bit fascist really. Compare and contrast 'Giovinezza'.

The Plump said...

a bit fascist really

Easy to mistake, especially as some who came later and were influenced by some of the same things flirted with an English Fascism, people like Chesterton for example.

The song was written in the 1880's and much of the poignancy comes from its innocence of the later horrors.

Carpenter's English patriotism, though, was not political nationalism, it was of the type Orwell espoused in 'The Lion and the Unicorn'. There are other favourite themes in there, the celebration of erotic love, homoerotic comradeship, and his particular take on nature etc.

The big thing about Carpenter is that he was an anti-statist, libertarian leftist. He was trying to get over a dream of liberation for the English people not the greater glory of an English national state.

mikeovswinton said...

Is the singer Mr Cholmondeley-Warner?
I think you are a touch hard on G.K.Chesterton - though not on Belloc. Maurice Reckitt's "As it happened" would be a good book to read slowly on that subject. Its a good book to read full stop. Though the stuff about Association Croquet is a bit off the beaten track.

Overtired and emotional said...

I was too idle to check up on Carpenter, of whom I had not heard.

It says a lot that one tends to see such sentiments in the light of the later horrors.

mikeovswinton said...

By the way, Pete, Jackie Wilson's R&B/doo wop version is now on youtube!

tomd said...

The last five sentences of AJP Taylor's *English History 1914-1945* go like this.

"Imperial greatness was on the way out; the welfare state was on the way in. The British empire declined; the condition of the people improved. Few now sang 'Land of Hope and Glory'. Few even sang 'England Arise'. England had risen all the same."