Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

States of Poetry 2017 - ACT | 'Patriotism' by Geoff Page

States of Poetry ACT - Series Two

States of Poetry 2017 - ACT | 'Patriotism' by Geoff Page

States of Poetry ACT - Series Two


‘... the last refuge of a scoundrel’.
                                   Samuel Johnson

But here and there a whisk of it
does no essential harm:

an accidental win or two
in sports you never follow,

a minor decency observed
by those you didn’t vote for,

a set of figures showing that
we’re still not quite the worst

of countries with a moral fault
but clearly in the running.

The high point comes though when
a boy or girl who seems to hail

from Beijing or Bangkok
or even Addis Ababa

starts addressing you in diphthongs
first heard long ago

among your parents and their friends
who’d seen off a depression

and managed World War II,
that accent which is ours alone,

mysteriously quite unlike
all other Anglophones,

its vowels worn down by space and weather,
eucalypts and stones.

Geoff Page

My ‘Patriotism’ poem is as close as I get to a dangerous emotion. I find I can’t help liking the way the children and grandchildren of migrants and refugees take on (unconsciously, I think) a lot of the accent I grew up with in the 1940s (and in which I still proudly speak – though sometimes with an ironic smile as well.) – Geoff Page

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.