For A Column At Runnymede

Thou, who the verdant plain dost traverse here
While Thames among his willows from thy view
Retires; O stranger, stay thee, and the scene
Around contemplate well. This is the place
Where England's ancient barons, clad in arms
And stern with conquest, from their tyrant king
(Then rendered tame) did challenge and secure
The charter of thy freedom. Pass not on
Till thou hast blest their memory, and paid
Those thanks which God appointed the reward
Of public virtue. And if chance thy home
Salute thee with a father's honour'd name,
Go, call thy sons: instruct them what a debt
They owe their ancestors; and make them swear
To pay it, by transmitting down entire
Those sacred rights to which themselves were born.

by Mark Akenside

Comments (1)

A very nationalistic poem starting with its setting. Runnyemede is the site of the signing of the Magna Carta. This document reined in the King's power and began giving legal rights to the nobles who had fought for the king and funded him. The poem left no doubt that Akenside was into the concepts of liberty and the rights of the people. Akenside bolsters the nationalistic theme of this poem by saying that God chooses to reward those serve their country. In the final lines of the poem, Akenside says that present day Englishmen should continue the fight of their ancestors and honor the rights their ancestors earned by using them.