The Great War

from Songs & Sonnets for England in War Time, an electronic edition

The Spirit of England

My sea-winds I gather, my fields I fill

With life-giving roots and grain.

My sons I unite for my greatest fight

My dream and desire to gain.

My land I have clothed in its fairest garb,

Corn-yellow and green and blue.

I arise in my pride, once more to decide

In the conflict of false and true.

I summon to battle from plain and hill,

From woodland and fen and dale,

From my reeking towns and greyhound downs

My men to be cast in the scale.

My flesh still quivers. The poisoned barb

By treacherous foe is flung.

I have plucked it out; my children shout

Of the vengeance to be wrung.

But I seek no vengeance, nor demand

An eye for an eye, nor tooth

For tooth. I desire to raise from the mire

My vision of peace and truth.

I have cleansed the seas, and have opened them

To traffic of many ships:

I would purge the land with the same firm hand

To let peace know no eclipse.

My dreams are challenged. I make my stand.

My vision shall still prevail.

From my white tower I send my power

Arrayed in its proven mail.

No glory I covet, nor diadem,

Save honour and peace of soul,

But to see far-flung as my singers have sung

My Freedom from pole to pole.

Saturday Review, August 15, 1914