Of Course I’m a European – A Poem by William Lewis

William Lewis reading his Poem at Cheltenham for Europe's Europe Day - With permission from William
William Lewis reading his Poem at Cheltenham for Europe’s Europe Day – With permission from William

Of course I’m a European.
How could I not be?
You gave me language,
Art, literature, poetry, music,
Philosophy, science,
Landscapes, food, friendships.
It’s in me, all through me.
The work of these Europeans
They made me.
Of course I’m a European.
How could I not be?

That’s not to deny the land I grew up in.
The land my parents believed in, fought for,
But I always felt I could be part of something bigger,
More forward looking, less encumbered by myth,
By evocations of a glorious past.
Truly, I never wanted to go back to
Dear Old Blighty.
And the old WW2 movies on TV didn’t do
A lot for me. As a kid, I bought their ‘Captain Hurricane’ comics.
But I grew up.

I hoped, I still hope, for a future that did it better.
Not a fairy story, no politician’s bluster,
I’d have been content with something
Unspectacular, something worthwhile.
A future of friendship, partnership, collaboration,
Mutual respect. A future of bridges,
Not barriers. A dream of Europe,
A living, breathing democracy
With consensus, not conflict, at its centre.
Why ever not?

And maybe for a few years, we got there.
All that’s looking a bit shaky now, of course.
Viktor Orbán, Marine le Pen and Matteo Salvini,
And other Barbarians. Brexiteers,
Shaking the gates. Knocking us back.
Come on Europe, Come on people of Europe,
Let’s celebrate how far we’ve come.
Let’s not lose it now.

Believe, hope, keep building.
For our children, and their grandchildren,
Hearing new voices, welcoming, accepting, befriending.
Part of the future that did it better.
Of course I’m a European.
How could I not be?

William Lewis – Cheltenham for Europe

Ed: William read his poem at the Cheltenham for Europe Europe Day on 9 May 2022


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