The Great War

from Lest We Forget, an electronic edition

A Singsong of England.

O England is an island,

The fairest ever seen;

They say men come to England

To learn that grass is green.

And Englishmen are now at war,

All for this they say,

That they are free, and other men

Must be as free as they.

The Englishmen are shepherds,

They plow, they sow and reap;

Their King may wear his leopards,

His men must run their sheep.

But now the crook and reaping-hook,

The coulter and the sieve

Are thrown aside; they take the gun

That other men may live.

Some Englishmen are fishermen,

And other some are miners,

And others man the shipping yards

And build the ocean liners;

But one and all will down tools

And up with gun and sword

To make a stand for Freedom

Against the War Lord.

The pretty girls of England

Are husbanding their charms,

For not a girl of them but has

A sweetheart under arms.

But not a girl of all the flock

Would call across the waves

Her sweetheart to her kindness

While other men are slaves.

There's been an English kingdom

For twice a thousand years;

Her men have plough'd and reap'd it

Thro' merriment and tears.

But never a twenty year has passed

Without some stroke's been given

For Freedom; and the land is free

As any under heaven.

The Roman and the Spaniard,

The Corsican, have tried

Their worst, and now the German

Must perish in his pride.

He may burn and thieve and slaughter,

He may scold and storm and pray;

But we shall fight till even his

Stand up freemen some day.

When he is free of Germany

And Germany of him

There'll be a chance for plain men

To get old Europe trim.

Then on, you sturdy English hands,

And keep the colours flying,

And we'll not grudge your blessed blood

If Tyranny's a-dying.