Circa 1987

The affection with which people view their homeland is an almost universal phenomenon, but it reached a new level of meaning with the rise of the ‘nation state’ and the emphasis on patriotism. One of the best known poems celebrating this “state of mind” is the verse by Sir Walter Scott. The poem was written in 1805.

I learnt this poem in in STD VI (1987), courtesy my then English teacher Mrs Deshpande. I recited the poem in STD VI, STD VII and STD VIII in the poem recitation competition and won a prize each time :). As I think back, I realize this poem has instilled a degree of patriotism in my psyche.

“Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored , and unsung.”

Srivyal Vuyyuri (www.sphoorti.org)

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