Philip James Bailey

(1816-1902 / England)

Nottingham Castle - Poem by Philip James Bailey

On the Opening of the Castle as a Permanent Art Museum.

Throw back the gates of time!
See, on this rock sublime,
The earth--bred Briton serve his gods on high;
Savagely he rejoiced,
When tempests, thunder--voiced,
Sparing his cave--born brood, shook earth and sky.

Cross and re--cross yon main
Rome's hosts. See Saxon, Dane,
This craggy throne contest, dread seat of Kings
Alternate. Thor's fierce race
Maintain the abiding place;
Till time the Conqueror's son, proud Peverel, brings.

Woe--chequered shews the tale,
Hoar mount of fame! we hail
As thine, where prisoned kings groan underground;
Where despot, thrall of pride,
Law loathing, right defied;
Whose blameless victims swung thy rampire round.

Be thine, not less, the praise,
First, in our Christian days,
From stranger states their skilled men to demand;
While issues forth from thee
The wise, the great decree,
That justice take her circuit through the land.

Let old tradition tell
The tale she loves too well,
Of freeborn outlaws trooped neath Sherwood's tree;
That mythic race may yet
A worthier band beget
To law obedient, not unhonouring thee.

Thrice from this sovereign stool
Our realm accepts her rule,
Her lips in rueful silence clenched, in vain;
Vainly the south laments
Thames' pompous Parliaments;
Gyved Chancellor; and Chepe's outraged golden chain.

Name not the horrors wrought
When brother brother fought;
When filial right maternal wrong discrowned;
Let wars of blood--dyed rose
There cease. Born here, where close
Rebellion's feuds, thou eyest; 'tis all thy ground.

There, Clifton, Byron send
Their champion ranks, to fend,
'Neath sage Newcastle's charge, our State's old laws;
Ireton, and who here held
Towers once o'erhead, unquelled,
Unfaltering, favour Freedom's holier cause.

Fierce raged the battle. Here,
Roundhead and Cavalier,
Law armed 'gainst right inborn, conflictant, stand;
This, Newark's fastness gains;
That, thine old burgh retains;
Keys Castellan of the lordship of our land.

Thine, too, for well in ken,
Where, 'mongst earth's saintliest men,
Since holy Austin keeled the unconquered shore,
From yon poor vill there came
He, at whose martyr--flame
England her faith re--lamps, to fail no more.

Here, in thy breast's recess,
By fatherly tyrannousness
Urged, hid our Anne, till the Abdicator fled;
Till at thy feet, was planned
The salvage of the land,
By heroes undivined; nor famed till dead.

The portals of the passed,
Close here; close aye; close fast;
Nor our burnings, Prince! our mournings, bid recall:
Not, since the Armada's night,
Saw ever Trent such light
As pales the stars, from yon high--windowed wall.

But lift up now thy head,
Art--fortress! Let no dread
Of lawless hosts, nor fenceless floods affright;
Full glorious dost thou stand,
'Mid strong--holds of our land;
An intellectual beacon burning bright.

Let ruin from thy ports
Disbattlemented, and courts,
Fly! Smile! Forget thine erewhile look forlorn;
The standard now we rear
Of peace and hope; not fear;
Nor war. Behold thy resurrection morn!

Henceforth no death--born ball
From this high keep shall fall;
Humanity here let reign, and mind's pure light:
While God our Lord we pray
Our hopes, our aims this day,
May hold not all unworthy of His sight.

For, if no more be ours,
Meads, flushed with purpling flowers,
From this, the future's threshold, to o'ergaze;
Lo! earth, all round, is rife
With flowers of nobler life,
Whose needs to help, whose gifts, these roofs we raise.

Nor be it forgot, how we
His patriot prescience see
Here proved, who first conceived the cause we share;
The cause, supreme, of peace,
Of art, of wealth's increase,
His son now crowns; our Isle's pro--sceptral heir.

Let Saxon here then toil,
With Briton of the soil,
In culture that no time shall set aside;
United, all, amain,
Our Prince and his fair Dane,
Loyal, welcome to our peaceful rock of pride.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, September 16, 2010



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