The British (serves 60 million)


This study guide will help you analyze the poem “The British (serves 60 million) by Benjamin Zephaniah. You can also find a summary of the poem, as well as ideas for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Presentation of the poem

Title: “The British (serves 60 million)” (2000) 
Author: Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah (b. 1958) is a British writer, musician, and poet. Zephaniah has written several novels, including Face (1999) and Refugee Boy (2001). He also published several collections of poetry. In 2008, he was listed as one of Britain’s top 50 post-war writers by The Times magazine. The poem “The British (serves 60 million)” was published in 2000 in the volume Wicked Worlds!.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 


The poem could be said to use irony against those that consider that immigrants might have a negative impact on British society and might lead to the loss of what they believe is the true British identity. With the first stanza, the poem shows clearly that from the start, British society has always been diverse and multicultural:

Take some Picts, Celts and Silures 
And let them settle, 
Then overrun them with Roman conquerors. 
Remove the Romans after approximately 400 years 
Add lots of Norman French to some 
Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings, then stir vigorously. (ll. 1-6)

When analyzed together with the ...

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The British (serves 60 million)

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