Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

(1840 - 1922 / England)

Coronation Ode - Poem by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

O Thou enfolded in grief,
Man, with thy mantle of scorn!
Arise and warn!
Unloved prophet of ill
Who sittest clothed in thy grief,
In thy pride of unbelief,
In thy silence of love forsworn!
Speak thy word to the world;
Let it be as a sword to thy will;
Let it be as a spear that is hurled,
A banner of wrath unfurled,
A garment rent and torn.

Speak. They shall listen to thee,
A single voice at their feast.
To the last and least,
They shall hear what they loathe to hear.
In the day of their Jubilee,
Of their coronation feast,
With the wine at their insolent lips,
Though they lend no ear
And their shoutings ring
From the decks of a thousand ships
Acclaiming their new--crowned king
With a coronation cheer,
They shall hear.

Speak, in their jubilant hour,
In the midst of their might and mirth.
Be thy theme the Earth,
The ancient tale of the lands of fame,
Empires of earlier birth,
Which held the world in their lust of power
As their own for dower
And abused their trust.
Make thy theme of the wrath that came,
The smoke that rose, the devouring flame,
The day of glory, the night of shame
And the end of dust.

O thou enrobed in thy tears!
Thou hast heard the children sing,
The children that pass in the street,
The innocent ones with their chauntings proud,
The rhyme of their marching feet.
How their voices sting!
What is the word they say
In their play,
The hymn their young lips fashion?
They have marched through the crowded ways
With flags and glory and shoutings loud
While the sun has looked down ablaze,
Amazed at their joyous passion.

Each one carries a sword,
A wooden sword in his hand,
With ribbon and belt and cord,
And a gun on his shoulder glorious,
Proud each one as a lord.
``Soldiers,'' they shout. ``We are soldiers come
From a battle--field. For, hark, the drum!
From a field of fight victorious.''
``Soldiers! Soldiers! Soldiers!'' Weary am I
Of that word forlorn,
Of the king's command,
Of the children's insolent cry,
A nation's cry whom the nations scorn
For its childish pride.
Better were these unborn!

England! Where is she? Where?
Land of the fortunate free
Which hath ceased to be?
What hath she done with her fame?
The nations that envied her
Turned to her in their care,
Sought her light upon land and sea,
Called as once on her ancient name,
The name of her liberty.
But her ears were shut to their prayer;
Her place was a sepulchre,
She had ceased in her strength to be,
She was no more free.

She fell as a star from its place,
As a bird from its path in the sky,
As a spring run dry,
A fruit in its rottenness,
As a drunken woman prone on her face
While the world went by,
And she knew not her own disgrace.
O thou, who hast seen her fall,
Who hast witnessed her agony,
Who hast looked on the face of the dead!
Lift up thy voice in the night and cry
``The harvest is harvested.
As these shall have made their bed,
So let them lie!''

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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