William Ernest Henley (1849 - 1902 / Gloucester / England)
We Are The Choice Of The Will
We are the Choice of the Will: God, when He gave the word
That called us into line, set in our hand a sword;
Set us a sword to wield none else could lift and draw,
And bade us forth to the sound of the trumpet of the Law.
East and west and north, wherever the battle grew,
As men to a feast we fared, the work of the Will to do.
Bent upon vast beginnings, bidding anarchy cease -
(Had we hacked it to the Pit, we had left it a place of peace!) -
Marching, building, sailing, pillar of cloud or fire,
Sons of the Will, we fought the fight of the Will, our sire.
Road was never so rough that we left its purpose dark;
Stark was ever the sea, but our ships were yet more stark;
We tracked the winds of the world to the steps of their very
The secret parts of the world were salted with our bones;
Till now the name of names, England, the name of might,
Flames from the austral fires to the bounds of the boreal night;
And the call of her morning drum goes in a girdle of sound,
Like the voice of the sun in song, the great globe round and round;
And the shadow of her flag, when it shouts to the mother-breeze,
Floats from shore to shore of the universal seas;
And the loneliest death is fair with a memory of her flowers,
And the end of the road to Hell with the sense of her dews and
Who says that we shall pass, or the fame of us fade and die,
While the living stars fulfil their round in the living sky?
For the sire lives in his sons, and they pay their father's debt,
And the Lion has left a whelp wherever his claw was set;
And the Lion in his whelps, his whelps that none shall brave,
Is but less strong than Time and the great, all-whelming Grave.
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