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[with apologies to Rudyard Kipling]

 

If you can live alone when all around you
are learning how to give and take and thrive
If you can trust the Press and public schoolboys
to tell the truth and keep us all alive

If you can wait for China to include you
for Russia to be kind and play the game
for land war refugees to stop at Calais
and migrant boats float home the way they came

If you can dream the Colonies still need you
great Africa, fertile Pacific Rim
If you think UN powers will always heed you
and violence never touch our shores again

If you think Peace means splendid isolation
do what you want so long as no one sees
key rights denied, imprisonment, corruption
(remember Ulster’s torture chambers please!)

If you can make your heart and nerve and sinew
defy the fact our influence is gone
Canute-like rule the waves – until the tide turns
and it’s too late to think we might be wrong

Then take all that two world wars tried to teach us
and risk it on one turn of “In or Out”
And leave, and start again, without our partners
(for 60 years maligned and messed about)

 

Back then they pleaded with us to be part of

the building of a better way to be
Those wisdoms, borne of Empire, could yet prosper
Humanity’s shared hope, Democracy!

We take these things for granted at our peril
Our children barely know the way we’ve been
Boiled beef and carrots? Rule of Law and fairness!
Embrace the Evolution! Let’s vote in!

 

performed following an address by Horatio Morpurgo on the theme “English non-conformity and Europe” at Bridport’s Unitarian Chapel