Cicely Fox Smith

(1 February 1882 – 8 April 1954 / Lymm, Cheshire)

The Vanguard - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

We the vanguard of a nation in the lands of desolation,
We who live and die unknown,
We who spend our days in sorrow for the people of to-morrow,
And the land we call our own.
For the bearing of our burden do we win no worthy guerdon -
For our labour and our pain?
Do we battle unavailing, struggling, triumphing and failing -
Live our lives out all in vain?

Nay: tho' in the noble story of Old England's deeds of glory
Honoured names we have not won;
Tho' the seed that we are sowing be not ready for the mowing
Ere our days on earth be done, -
In the jungle's tangled fastness, lonely bush and desert vastness,
Boundless veldt and steaming plain,
Do the vanguard of a nation for a future generation
Toil and suffer - not in vain!

For the seed we sow in sorrow shall be garnered on the morrow
By the people yet unborn,
And across the darkness breaking, all the land to hope awaking,
Flushes up the rose of morn.
Each may do what will not perish for the land that Britons cherish
Ere he take his journey hence;
And the British banner flying o'er the spot where he lay dying,
Is the soldier's recompense!

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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