Algernon Charles Swinburne

(5 April 1837 - 10 April 1909 / London)

England Cxvii - Poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

England, queen of the waves, whose green inviolate girdle enrings thee
round,
Mother fair as the morning, where is now the place of thy foemen found?
Still the sea that salutes us free proclaims them stricken, acclaims
thee crowned.
Time may change, and the skies grow strange with signs of treason, and
fraud, and fear:
Foes in union of strange communion may rise against thee from far and
near:
Sloth and greed on thy strength may feed as cankers waxing from year
to year.

Yet, though treason and fierce unreason should league and lie and defame
and smite,
We that know thee, how far below thee the hatred burns of the sons of
night,
We that love thee, behold above thee the witness written of life in
light.

Life that shines from thee shows forth signs that none may read not by
eyeless foes:
Hate, born blind, in his abject mind grows hopeful now but as madness
grows:
Love, born wise, with exultant eyes adores thy glory, beholds and glows.
Truth is in thee, and none may win thee to lie, forsaking the face of
truth:
Freedom lives by the grace she gives thee, born again from thy deathless
youth:
Faith should fail, and the world turn pale, wert thou the prey of the
serpent's tooth.

Greed and fraud, unabashed, unawed, may strive to sting thee at heel in
vain;
Craft and fear and mistrust may leer and mourn and murmur and plead and
plain:
Thou art thou: and thy sunbright brow is hers that blasted the strength
of Spain.

Mother, mother beloved, none other could claim in place of thee England's
place:
Earth bears none that beholds the sun so pure of record, so clothed with
grace:
Dear our mother, nor son nor brother is thine, as strong or as fair of
face,
How shalt thou be abased? or how shalt fear take hold of thy heart? of
thine,
England, maiden immortal, laden with charge of life and with hopes
divine?
Earth shall wither, when eyes turned hither behold not light in her
darkness shine.

England, none that is born thy son, and lives by grace of thy glory,
free,
Lives and yearns not at heart and burns with hope to serve as he
worships thee;
None may sing thee: the sea-wind's wing beats down our songs as it
hails the sea


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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