Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel

(1834-1894 / England)

Ode To England - Poem by Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel

Arm! England, arm! for all men point the finger
Toward thee with scorn they little care to veil:
'Doth not the mouldering hull of England linger
Upon her sea of gold, with idle sail?
Once she was other! once we shrank dismayed
Before the lightning of her baring blade;
Once through the storm her ocean glory burst,
She, stormy petrel, she the ocean-nurst,
Upon her foes, who pale beheld the stream
Of her bright ensign, like Aurora, gleam
Over foam-billows bounding wild: hurrah!
England is drowsier than at Trafalgar!'

Arm! England, arm! the halcyon hour must wait
When Love and Righteousness shall vanquish Hate.
Jesus of old was royal hailed in scorn:
Now th world crowns Him - still it is with thorn!
Nobles and kings go armèd to the teeth:
Lo! where thy loving sister bleeds beneath
Their haughty feet: she calls thee to her side:
They clank their swords at thee with insolent pride.
'Old England, mumbling, paralysed, and cold,
Shrinks closer clutching at her hoards of gold!'
Why should the mailèd sons of tyranny taunt
Thee, champion of the free, with windy vaunt?
Arm! England, arm! they mouth at Liberty,
Who with a mother's impulse turns to thee!
Fair is our dream of universal peace;
But there be wolves, and lambs of tender fleece.
Tyranny summons all her swarms of slaves,
Horrent with weapons: daughter of the waves!
Is it a time for thee to loll and bask,
And murmur at the burden of thy casque?
Yea, thou art sedulous to nurse thy health,
Resentful of a menace to thy wealth:
But in the hour of thine extremity,
Look for no pitying tear to cloud one eye
Among the sister nations loitering by!
Now that thy faithful friend is in the dust,
Whose features fair may next inflame the lust
Of her inexorable conqueror,
Or of his mailed kinsman emperor?
If thou, the hope of Freedom, lie supine,
Indifferent beyond thy belt of brine,
While Freedom wrestles with a libertine,
Beware for thine!
Shall not God judge the race that cannot feel
Itself a member of one living commonweal?
That nation dies; elects to be alone;
Severed in sooth, dead lumber, shall be thrown
Among bare buried piles of bone!
Canst thou, then, fear to arm thy children free,
Who cradled lay upon the bosom of Liberty?
Whom from herself she nourished, whom with motion
And lullabies of the everlasting ocean
She soothed from earliest infancy,
While, in loud winds and waves careering, she
Sings to her mariners who rule the sea!

Arm all thy children! not a caste of drones:
Then shalt thou see those anarchs on their thrones
Abase their domineering front - behold
Helvetia, splendid, blithe, and bold!
The sons who breathe her liberal mountain air,
The men who scale her precipice and dare
All dangers of her bleak eternal snows,
A race of hardy hunters, who repose
Fearless beneath her sparkling stars, nor blanch
To dream their bed may prove a thunderous avalanche,
Whose spirits with their native eagle soar,
Whose kindred souls dilating love the roar
Of icy cataracts, the Aar, the Rhine,
The Rhone that foams among the mumuring pine -
Are these not armed? Yea, every man will bleed
For the fair land of Arnold Winkelried!

France waved the banner of the free,
When it fell from the hands of Italy;
Alas! she fails - but England, thou
Hast a Daughter of starry brow,
Whose arms receive thy setting sun;
She, in a forest vast and lone,
With awful gladness hears intone
Niagara, and the Amazon!
Freedom before her mountain citadel
Placed you, two giants, each her wakeful sentinel!


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010



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