Poem of the Week: National Anthem of Ancient Britons

Prof. Brownlow sent this in to complement Andrei Navrozov's latest.  It was written by an Eton mathematics master named William Hope-Jones.  It is sung to "Men of Harlech."


What’s the good of wearing braces,

Vests and pants and boots with laces,

Spats or hats you buy in places

Down in Brompton Road?


What’s the use of shirts of cotton,

Studs that always get forgotten?

These affairs are simply rotten:

Better far is woad.


Woad’s the stuff to show, men.

Woad to scare your foemen:

Boil it to a brilliant hue

And rub it on your back and your abdomen.


Ancient Briton ne’er did hit on

Anything as good as woad to fit on

Neck, or knees, or where you sit on.

Tailors, you be blowed.



Romans came across the Channel

All wrapped up in tin and flannel:

Half a pint of woad per man’ll

Dress us more than these.


Saxons, you can waste your stitches

Building beds for bugs in britches:

We have woad to clothe us, which is

Not a nest for fleas.


Romans keep your armours;

Saxons your pyjamas:

Hairy coats were meant for goats,

Gorillas, yaks, retriever dogs and llamas.


Tramp up Snowdon with our woad on:

Never mind if we get rained or blowed on.

Never want a button sewed on.

Go it, Ancient Bs.[3]


Avatar photo

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina