Alfred Austin

(30 May 1835 – 2 June 1913 / Headingley)

If They Dare! - Poem by Alfred Austin

Realm of ocean-guarded Peace,
Humming loom and grazing steer,
Farm, and forge, and woven fleece,
Happier, homelier, year by year,
Hark! athwart the wintry air,
Menace mutters, foemen glare:
Leave the shuttle, leave the share,
For the spear!

Envious of her world-wide race,
Goaded by the greed and hate
Of the hungry and the base
For the opulent and great,
``See,'' they whisper, ``did we band
All against Her, hand-in-hand,
We might bring that haughty Land
Face with Fate.''

Plotters insolent and vain,
Muster then your servile swarms.
Moated by the unbridged main,
We but laugh at such alarms.
Blinded braggarts, to forget
England old is England yet,
And can meet, as once She met,
World in arms.

Come athwart the ocean's crest,
Mob and Monarch, crowd and Crown!
Slavish East, or shrilling West,
Come, and strike at her renown.
Madmen! by your threats inane
What is it ye hope to gain?
Think of France, think of Spain,
Smitten down!

Derelict on wind and wave,
Tossing with the tossing tide,
Crushed by ice-floe, tombed in cave,
See the Armada's pomp and pride:
Prince and Pontiff, Rome and Spain,
Leagued against Her, leagued in vain;
England and her mother-main
Side by side.

Think of that self-sceptered King,
Caesar not by birth but brain,
Who with arbitrary wing
Hovered over hill and plain:
Headlong from that haughty height
Forced to sue to England's might,
And accept, for eagle's flight,
Cage and chain!

Still they cry, ``She is alone,
And must truckle to our nod.''
What! with half the world her own!
What! still wielding Neptune's rod!
She is lonely as the breeze,
Lonely as the stars or seas,
Lone, unreachable as these,
Lone as God!

Let the bandits then deride
Loneliness they shall not share.
We are lonely, unallied,
As the lion in his lair.
Doubters, dastards, now be dumb:
Sound the clarion! Roll the drum!
Let them menace, let them come,
If they dare!


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 8, 2010



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