The Great War

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

To the Crew Of H.M.S. Birmingham

You that have been first in war

To meet that menace of the sea,

The sunken craft that ne'er before

Hath tried death's instrument to be, --

You have won honour and success

By daring and by skilfulness.

Daring is yours by pure descent

From heroes of an earlier age,

Who blood and treasure freely spent

To make the sea our heritage,

Who faced the cannon and the steel,

And lived and died for England's weal.

And skill is yours, with patience won

And labour neither brief nor light --

No novice aimed the blinding gun

That reft the submarine of sight --

Honoured of England let him be

As Robin Hood of gunnery.

Yours then is England's love and praise,

O cruiser of the honoured name!

For whatsoever future days

May bring of peril or of fame,

In your first battle on the sea

You win your immortality.

Yorkshire Post, August 16, 1914