The Great War

from War: an Ode And Other Poems, an electronic edition

Ex Unitate Vires ("Let Us Take Hands")

An Ode in Commemoration of the Federation of the South African States


LET us take hands!

Our fatherlands

Were neighbours on the Northern Sea;

Our cliffs looked out upon your sands,

Our Thames adjoined your Zuyder Zee;

Between us now no barrier stands,

Old comrades and old neighbours we,

Let us take hands!

Briton or Boer--what matters name?

Steady of purpose, strong of deed,

Of Teuton breed

Our fathers came.

We are their seed,

We hold their creed,

We share their fortune, and their fame.

Akin in blood, and speech, and faith,

Why should we work each other scathe?

We both are brave, we both are free,

Shall we not friends and comrades be?

Let us take hands!


Only a fool

Would think to rule

By force of fear, by dint of hate;

Surely the Lord

Will break his sword

Who by a sword would rule a state.

On every kopje, every hill,

The flag of freedom is unfurled;

Here, hand in hand, we must fulfil

A dual destiny in the world.

Singly we neither can prevail;

We twain are kin.

And both must win,

Or both must fail.

We both have won; we both have lost,

With equal shame, at equal cost,

Let us take hands!


Shall not our hearts confederate conspire,

Shall not our wills be wed in one desire,

Out of two kindred peoples to create

One nation wise, and prosperous, and great?

Let us be friends,

Working for noble ends,

Let us be one in spirit and estate!


Now that the Oath of Brotherhood we swear,

Now that our hearts are one,

The veld which lies so desolate and bare

Will blossom into cities white and fair,

And pinnacles will pierce the desert air,

And sparkle in the sun.

Now that the Oath of Brotherhood we swear,

Now that our hearts are one,

Surely a land so prodigal and broad

Will grow a very garden-land of God;

Surely the realm a realm of love will be.

Let us take hands

Whose fatherlands

Were neighbours by the Northern Sea!