Australia To England

June 22nd, 1897

What of the years of Englishmen?
   What have they brought of growth and grace
Since mud-built London by its fen
   Became the Briton's breeding-place?
What of the Village, where our blood
   Was brewed by sires, half man, half brute,
In vessels of wild womanhood,
   From blood of Saxon, Celt and Jute?

What are its gifts, this Harvest Home
   Of English tilth and English cost,
Where fell the hamlet won by Rome
   And rose the city that she lost?
O! terrible and grand and strange
   Beyond all phantasy that gleams
When Hope, asleep, sees radiant Change
   Come to her through the halls of dreams!

A heaving sea of life, that beats
   Like England's heart of pride to-day,
And up from roaring miles of streets
   Flings on the roofs its human spray;
And fluttering miles of flags aflow,
   And cannon's voice, and boom of bell,
And seas of fire to-night, as though
   A hundred cities flamed and fell;

While, under many a fair festoon
   And flowering crescent, set ablaze
With all the dyes that English June
   Can lend to deck a day of days,
And past where mart and palace rise,
   And shrine and temple lift their spears,
Below five million misted eyes
   Goes a grey Queen of Sixty Years --

Go lords, and servants of the lords
   Of earth, with homage on their lips,
And kinsmen carrying English swords,
   And offering England battle-ships;
And tribute-payers, on whose hands
   Their English fetters scarce appear;
And gathered round from utmost lands
   Ambassadors of Love and Fear!

Dim signs of greeting waved afar,
   Far trumpets blown and flags unfurled,
And England's name an Avatar
   Of light and sound throughout the world --
Hailed Empress among nations, Queen
   Enthroned in solemn majesty,
On splendid proofs of what has been,
   And presages of what will be!

For this your sons, foreseeing not
   Or heeding not, the aftermath,
Because their strenuous hearts were hot
   Went first on many a cruel path,
And, trusting first and last to blows,
   Fed death with such as would gainsay
Their instant passing, or oppose
   With talk of Right strength's right of way!

For this their names are on the stone
   Of mountain spires, and carven trees
That stand in flickering wastes unknown
   Wait with their dying messages;
When fire blasts dance with desert drifts
   The English bones show white below,
And, not so white, when summer lifts
   The counterpane of Yukon's snow.

Condemned by blood to reach for grapes
   That hang in sight, however high,
Beyond the smoke of Asian capes,
   The nameless, dauntless, dead ones lie;
And where Sierran morning shines
   On summits rolling out like waves,
By many a brow of royal pines
   The noisiest find quiet graves.

By lust of flesh and lust of gold,
   And depth of loins and hairy breadth
Of breast, and hands to take and hold,
   And boastful scorn of pain and death,
And something more of manliness
   Than tamer men, and growing shame
Of shameful things, and something less
   Of final faith in sword and flame --

By many a battle fought for wrong,
   And many a battle fought for right,
So have you grown august and strong,
   Magnificent in all men's sight --
A voice for which the kings have ears,
   A face the craftiest statesmen scan;
A mind to mould the after years,
   And mint the destinies of man!

Red sins were yours: the avid greed
   Of pirate fathers, smocked as Grace,
Sent Judas missioners to read
   Christ's Word to many a feebler race --
False priests of Truth who made their tryst
   At Mammon's shrine, and reft or slew --
Some hands you taught to pray to Christ
   Have prayed His curse to rest on you!

Your way has been to pluck the blade
   Too readily, and train the guns.
We here, apart and unafraid
   Of envious foes, are but your sons:
We stretched a heedless hand to smutch
   Our spotless flag with Murder's blight --
For one less sacrilegious touch
   God's vengeance blasted Uzza white!

You vaunted most of forts and fleets,
   And courage proved in battle-feasts,
The courage of the beast that eats
   His torn and quivering fellow-beasts;
Your pride of deadliest armament --
   What is it but the self-same dint
Of joy with which the Caveman bent
   To shape a bloodier axe of flint?

But praise to you, and more than praise
   And thankfulness, for some things done;
And blessedness, and length of days
   As long as earth shall last, or sun!
You first among the peoples spoke
   Sharp words and angry questionings
Which burst the bonds and shed the yoke
   That made your men the slaves of Kings!

You set and showed the whole world's school
   The lesson it will surely read,
That each one ruled has right to rule --
   The alphabet of Freedom's creed
Which slowly wins it proselytes
   And makes uneasier many a throne;
You taught them all to prate of Rights
   In language growing like your own!

And now your holiest and best
   And wisest dream of such a tie
As, holding hearts from East to West,
   Shall strengthen while the years go by:
And of a time when every man
   For every fellow-man will do
His kindliest, working by the plan
   God set him. May the dream come true!

And greater dreams! O Englishmen,
   Be sure the safest time of all
For even the mightiest State is when
   Not even the least desires its fall!
Make England stand supreme for aye,
   Because supreme for peace and good,
Warned well by wrecks of yesterday
   That strongest feet may slip in blood!

by John Farrell

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