On Brexit Day, an Elegiac Read on England

 

Image of Sutton Hoo by Marc Atkins, via LRB

Sutton Hoo © Marc Atkins/marcatkins.com

Sutton Hoo © Marc Atkins/marcatkins.com

 

Today (or, I guess, yesterday), as Theresa May officially initiated Brexit, throwing the European project into disarray, and continuing the long and nightmarish trend of advanced countries saying “LEAVE” to the modern world that got Donald Trump elected, I read a beautiful little piece in the London Review of Books about the burial ground of a 6th-century Anglican king. This article, by Rod Mengham, was written with Brexit in mind without mentioning it, by showing the whole sweep of English history, whether it was insular or expansive. It’s a beautiful little drizzle of a read, in which you get the scope of time and our current politics.

But it’s worth remembering that the version of English spoken by Rædwald also evolved into Swedish, not to mention Danish, Norwegian, German and Dutch. There is a case for saying that Sutton Hoo does not mark the beginnings of Englishness, but its end: no money, no Christianity, no island mentality. Whoever was buried in Mound 1 did not die in the ship, but he did live in one, conceptually – his people were joined by the sea, not bounded by it.

It’s also worth reading for the comment section, which discusses if Rædwald could count as UKIP.

 

 

Advertisements

Keep it respectful...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s