England's Day: A War-Saga

written by

« Reload image

Commended To Gortschakoff, Grant, And Bismark; And Dedicated To The British


Russian, Yankee, and Prussian,
Wherever you be,
That stand by the shores of our sea
And shake your fists over,
This is the Castle of Dover,
You knaves!
And yon's the flag unfurl'd,
That shall flog you over the waves
Of the world.
Ay, by the shores of our sea,
You knaves!
For wherever the breeze blows free,
And the hurling, swirling, up and down deeps go thundering under and over,
There the sea is our sea,
And there's a Castle of Dover,
Which carries a flag unfurl'd
That shall flog you off the waves
Of the world.
What are you trying to say,
You knaves?
Whatever it be, it so maddens the waves
That not a word comes this way.
Speak up! you've no need to be shy,
This is the land of charity,
Where we never regret the labours
We spend for the sake of our neighbours:
So no more thrimming and thrumming,
But mention whatever you want;
And if you can show us 'tis good for you,
We're just the People to grant.
Should you like, for instance, a drubbing or two?
We'll take neither fees nor thanks,
But do you the very best we can do:
Ay! and do it aboard your own planks,
And ask you nothing for coming!
Louder, my boy, ahoy!
Why what the fiends can you say
That makes such mountainous weather?
You look to be talking loud,
But I hear you no more than I see a feather
That a cyclone spouts to a cloud.
If you've got any breath, don't save it.
Well done! once more! I have it-
'England'-that's good for one's ears-
'England'-all right! and three cheers-
But unless that voice of your own
Can hoist up higher, I'm blest
If I'll catch a word of the rest!
For you no sooner open your jaws
Than there roars such a vast sea-shout
That I hear you no more than I'd hear the daws
If Dover cliffs tumbled down.
Now then, there's a lull, sing out!
Yo hoy! that's better. Soho!
I've got it! 'England'-Yes-No-
'Has had her day.' Oh, that's your say-
'England has had her day!'
O ye who bear, on every sea,
That flag of flags, so often sung,
Whose name, in every human tongue,
Is t'other word for Victory,
That banner of eternal youth
Your sires and grandsires, great and good,
Have colour'd with their mortal blood
And cross'd with their immortal truth,
A cheer, a cheer, and you shall hear
News that's worth a British cheer.
Do you see yon braggarts three,
Like three swash-bucklers in a play?
They've found it out for you and me,
So 'twon't be civil to say Nay.
And verse one of chapter A
In this great discovery
Is 'England'-what? ay, wait for that
And while you wait, my hearts, haul down
Your wind-blown pageant of renown,-
Yon glorious weed whose bayonets
The grasping tyrant ne'er forgets,-
Yon harp whose throbbing chords can beat
All sounds of battle but retreat,-
And let the keeper's hand lay low
The lions that ne'er fell to foe;-
Reef, reef the flapping toy away,
England, my hearts,-has had her day!
Now, true-blues, you've heard the news,
Hip hip hip, hurrah?
Not hip hip hip, hurrah, my boys,
But hip hip hip, aha!
From decks to shrouds, from shrouds to clouds,
Hip hip hip, aha!
The stays are taut, the sails are caught,
With ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Like woods at play, the big masts sway,
With ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
The big ships ride from side to side,
With ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
The north waves roll from pole to pole,
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
From pole to pole the south winds troll,
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
From air to sea, from sea to air,
The cross-clang clamours everywhere,
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
From Baffin Bay, by Matapan,
Round Hindostan, and far Japan,
Back, back, to where it first began,
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, my boys,
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
The very globe shakes like a man,
With ha, ha, ha, ha!
Russians, Yankees, Prussians, all you
Who stand there scowling at Dover,
'England has had her day'-is that your cry?
Flood and earthquake! it's our cry too!
Had it, had it, a thousand times over!
Yea, and as sure as sky is sky,
And sea is sea, and shore is shore,
You shall see England have one day more!
And such a day shall England have,
That a thousand cities over the wave
Shall wring their bitter hands and say,
'England, England, has had her day!'
Some of us, when that day is done,
You knaves!
Shall go down with the battle sun
In the battle waves.
But as day by day
The sun goes round
Where'er yon flag's unfurled,
And still through dews of morn
Comes back to find Britannia crown'd,
And tell her of her world,
So sure with morrow
At sweet sunrise,
Like mourn of horn,
Like roll of drum,
Like boom of gun,
Like swell of bells,
Our name and our fame
Thro' England's tears shall come
Up the skies!
And, putting by the shades
From early window-pane
Of castled palace or white-cottaged lane,
Pass without rebuke,
And look
On what the sun sees:
Little children on their knees,
And pale dishevelled maids,
And ancient sires whose sorrow is not sorrow,
And mother sitting by the bed,
Where, years ago, was born
The face she shall not see again,
Who bows the passionate winter of the head
And sobs Amen.
And some of us shall come
In triumph home
Beneath yon flag unfurl'd!
Over the foam, over the foam,
Conquerors, conquerors, conquerors home.
Joyously sailing the lightsomest foam
That the gayest of gales ever curl'd.
On, on, over ocean and ocean,
To the goal of the patriot's devotion,
Once more, with heaving heart, to see
The Native-land of all the free,
The Mother-earth of Liberty,
The sacred soil that bears the tree
That sowed the world.
On, on, over ocean and ocean,
On, on, by shores that gaze and wonder,
Shores where friendly cities shout,
Shores where frantic foes blaze out
Their paffing wrath in vain.
On, on, like gods on living thrones of thunder,
Heclas and Ætnas smoking thro' the main:
On, on, like kings and kings,
In wingèd towns and tow'rs with wings;
On, on, town after town,
And, in their train,
Up ocean hill and down hollow,
Horn'd Leviathans that mount and wallow,
And all
The jubilant Elephant-herd of the sea,
That roar and roll and follow
Where the sea-shepherds call.
But some of those who come
In glory home
That day,
Shall envy us who sleep
In the Deep,
Far away!
When they see the eyes that weep,
When they hear the lips that pray,
Because we sleep
Far away!
Millions and millions of eyes that weep,
Millions of lips that cry
To God that day,
Because we sleep
Far away!-
Thousands and thousands of eyes that are dry
As they never were dry till that day,
Because we sleep
Far away!-
Thousands of lips that shall keep
Silence to God and Man that day,-
Silence, silence, deep,-
Deep, deep as the Deep
Where we sleep
Far away!

© Sydney Thompson Dobell