Alfred Austin

(30 May 1835 – 2 June 1913 / Headingley)

Henry Bartle Edward Frere - Poem by Alfred Austin

Bend down and read-the birth, the death, the name.
Born in the year that Waterloo was won,
And died in this, whose days are not yet run,
But which, because a year conceived in shame,
No noble need will christen or will claim.
And yet this dead man, England, was Thy son,
And at his grave we ask what had he done,
Bred to be famous, to be foiled of Fame.
Be the reply his epitaph: That he,
In years as youth, the unyielding spirit bore
He got from Thee, but Thou hast got no more;
And that it is a bane and bar to be
A child of Thine, now the adventurous sea
All vainly beckons to a shrinking shore.

Therefore, great soul, within your marble bed
Sleep sound, nor hear the useless tears we weep.
Why should you wake, when England is asleep,
Or care to live, since England now is dead?
Forbidden are the steeps where Glory led;
No more from furrowed danger of the deep
We harvest greatness; to our hearths we creep,
Count and recount our coin, and nurse our dread.
The sophist's craft hath grown a prosperous trade,
And womanish Tribunes hush the manly drum:
The very fear of Empire strikes us numb,
Fumbling with pens, who brandished once the blade.
Therefore, great soul, sleep sound where you are laid,
Blest in being deaf when Honour now is dumb.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 8, 2010

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