William Watson

(1858-1935 / England)

England My Mother - Poem by William Watson

I

England my mother,
Wardress of waters.
Builder of peoples,
Maker of men,-

Hast thou yet leisure
Left for the muses?
Heed'st thou the songsmith
Forging the rhyme?

Deafened with tumults,
How canst thou hearken?
Strident is faction,
Demos is loud.

Lazarus, hungry,
Menaces Dives;
Labour the giant
Chafes in his hold.

Yet do the songsmiths
Quit not their forges;
Still on life's anvil
Forge they the rhyme.

Still the rapt faces
Glow from the furnace:
Breath of the smithy
Scorches their brows.

Yea, and thou hear'st them?
So shall the hammers
Fashion not vainly
Verses of gold.


II

Lo, with the ancient
Roots of man's nature,
Twines the eternal
Passion of song.

Ever Love fans it,
Ever Life feeds it,
Time cannot age it;
Death cannot slay.

Deep in the world-heart
Stand its foundations,
Tangled with all things,
Twin-made with all.

Nay, what is Nature's
Self, but an endless
Strife toward music,
Euphony, rhyme?

Trees in their blooming,
Tides in their flowing,
Stars in their circling,
Tremble with song.

God on His throne is
Eldest of poets:
Unto His measures
Moveth the Whole.


III

Therefore deride not
Speech of the muses,
England my mother,
Maker of men.

Nations are mortal,
Fragile is greatness;
Fortune may fly thee,
Song shall not fly.

Song the all-girdling,
Song cannot perish:
Men shall make music,
Man shall give ear.

Not while the choric
Chant of creation
Floweth from all things,
Poured without pause,

Cease we to echo
Faintly the descant
Whereto for ever
Dances the world.


IV

So let the songsmith
Proffer his rhyme-gift,
England my mother,
Maker of men.

Gray grows thy count'nance,
Full of the ages;
Time on thy forehead
Sits like a dream:

Song is the potion
All things renewing,
Youth's one elixir,
Fountain of morn.

Thou, at the world-loom
Weaving thy future,
Fitly may'st temper
Toil with delight.

Deemest thou, labour
Only is earnest?
Grave is all beauty,
Solemn is joy.

Song is no bauble-
Slight not the songsmith,
England my mother,
Maker of men.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 10, 2010

Poem Edited: Saturday, May 7, 2011


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