Wednesday, 11 November 2009

National Poetry

The girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so hard
The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
I wanna die with you Wendy on the streets tonight
In an everlasting kiss

The highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive

It's clear from those lines which country we're in. In the video game Civilization, one of the wonders of the world was the creation of a national literature. And with good reason: Ancient Rome sought to legitimise itself by commissioning Virgil to pen the Aeneid in the mould of Ovid's epics. America has been extremely successful in forging its own modern-day mythology around emptiness, pioneer-spirit and pointless, focused rebellion. The question is, can you think of anything written in the last 50 years which evokes an identity for Britain? The closest I can think of is the work of the Arctic Monkeys. What does that say about us?


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