The English are twice-born,
Rhodesia, East India, Hudson Bay,
All of them flushed down Victoria Falls,
And the japes and the scrapes
and the scraps with the Gauls,
C'est payé, balayé, oublié.
The sun at last sets,
And the fingers that stretched
So thin across unthinkable spaces,
Now retract with the riches and races
They've fetched, and smaller but stronger
For the crises and twists,
The gold-ringed hand will bunch in a fist,
A punch in the face for the traitors we've kissed,
For the chances we took and the chances we missed,
And spare one for poor William Bligh,
Sunk in Dover Beach sand, as once more old England
Is born again, and so am I.
And no, I regret nothing.
And yes, I regret every thing.