Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Raising The Flag


Behold! the Spanish flag they're raising
Before the Palace courtyard gate;
To watch its progress bold and blazing
Two hundred patient people wait.
Though bandsmen play the anthem bravely
The silken emblem seems to lag;
Two hundred people watch it gravely -
But only two salute the flag.

Fine-clad and arrogant of manner
The twain are like dark dons of old,
And to that high and haughty banner
Uplifted palms they proudly hold.
The others watch them glumly, grimly;
No sullen proletariat these,
but middle-class, well clad though dimly,
Who seem to live in decent ease.

Then sadly they look at each other,
And sigh ans shrug and turn away.
What is the feeling that they smother?
I wonder, but it's none too gay.
And as with puzzlement I bide me,
Beneath that rich, resplendent rag,
I hear a bitter voice beside me:
"It isn't ours - it's Franco's flag.

"I'm Right: I have no Left obsession.
I hate the Communists like hell,
But after ten years of oppression
I hate our Franco twice as well.
And hush! I keep (do not reprove me)
His portrait in a private place,
And every time my bowels move me
I - spit in El Caudillo's face."

These were the words I heard, I swear,
But when I turned around to stare,
Believe me - there was no one there.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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