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2017 год

E. Nesbit
Songs of love and empire



[June 22, 1897]
Come forth! the world’s aflame with flags and flowers,
The shout of bells fills full the shattered air,
This is the crown of all your golden hours,
More than all other hours august and fair;
This did the years prepare,
A triumph for our Lady and our Queen,
More rich than any king in any land hath seen.
Clothed are your streets with scarlet, gold, and blue,
Flowers under foot and banners over head,
And while your people’s voice storms Heaven for you
About your way are voiceless blessings shed,
And over you are spread
Wide wings of love, free love, tamed to your hand,
Love that gold cannot buy, nor Majesty command.
Not these mere visible millions only, share
Your triumph – here all English hearts beat high,
Nations far off your royal colours wear,
And swell with unheard voice this loyal cry
That strikes the English sky:
A cloud of unseen witnesses is here
To testify how great is England’s Queen, and dear.
From out the grey-veiled past, long years away,
Come visionary faces, vision-led,
And splendid shapes that are not of our day,
The spirits of the mute and mighty dead,
To see how Time has sped
The fortunes of their England, and behold
How much more great she is than in the days of old.
The world can see them not; but you can see —
You the inheritor of all the past
Wherein the dead, in noble heraldry,
Blazoned the shield of England, and forecast
The charge it bears at last —
More splendid than the azure and the or
Of the French lilies lost – long lost and sorrowed for.
Here be the weaponed men, the English folk,
Who in long ships across the swan’s bathfared,
In whose rude tongue the voice of Freedom spoke,
In whose rough hands the sword was bright and bared —
The men who did and dared,
And to their sons bequeathed the fighting blood
That drives to Victory and will not be withstood.
Here, in your ordered festival, O Queen,
Mixed with the crowd and all unseen of these,
On their long swords the wild Norse rovers lean
And watch the progress of your pageantries,
And on this young June breeze
Float the bright pennons of the Cressy spears —
Shine shadowy shafts that fell, as snow falls, at Poitiers.
Here flutter phantom flags that once flew free
Above the travail of the tournament;
Here gleam old swords, once wet for Liberty;
Old blood-stiff banners, worn with war and rent,
Are with your fresh flowers blent,
And by your crown, where love and fame consort,
Shines the unvanquished cloven crown of Agincourt.
Upon your river where, by day and night,
Your world-adventuring ships come home again,
Glide ghostly galleons, manned by men of might
Who plucked the wings and singed the beard of Spain;
The men who, not in vain,
Saved to the children of a world new-trod
The birth-tongue of our land, her freedom, and her God.
Princes who lived to make our England great,
Poets who wreathed her greatness with their song,
Wise men who steered her heavy ship of State,
Brave men who steered her battle-ships along,
In spectral concourse throng
To applaud the consummated power and pride
Of that belovèd land for which they lived and died.
The thousand un-named heroes who, sword-strong,
Ploughed the long acre wherein Empire grows
Wide as the world, and long as Time is long —
These mark the crescence of the English rose
Whose thorny splendour glows
O’er far-off subject lands, by alien waves,
A crown for England’s brow, a garland for her graves.
And faces out of unforgotten years,
Faces long hidden by death’s misty screen,
Faces you still can scarcely see for tears,
Will smile on you to-day and near you lean,
O Mother, Wife, and Queen!
With whispered love too sacred and too dear
For any ear than yours, Mother and Wife, to hear.
Lady, the crowd will vaunt to-day your fame,
Daughter and heir of many mighty kings,
The Queen of England, whose imperial name
From England’s heart and lips tumultuous springs
In prayers and thanksgivings,
Because your greatness and her greatness shine
Merged each in each, as stars their beams that intertwine.
Yet in the inmost heart, where folded close
The richest treasures of the poorest lie,
Love, whose clear eyes see many secrets, knows
A nobler name than Queen to call you by,
And breathes it silently;
But, ’mid His listening crowd of angels, One
Shall speak your name and say, “Faithful and good, well done!”


Ring, bells! flags, fly! and let the great crowd roar
Its ecstasy. Let the hid heart in prayer
Lift up your name. God bless you evermore,
Lady, who have the noblest crown to wear
That ever woman wore.
A jewel, in the front of time, shall blaze
This day, of all your days commemorate;
With Time’s white bays your brows are laureate,
And England’s love shall garland all your days.
* * * * *
When England’s crown, to Love’s acclaim, was laid
On the soft brightness of a maiden’s hair,
Amid delight, Love trembled, half afraid,
To give that little head such weight to bear, —
Bind on so slight a maid
A kingdom’s purple – bid her hands hold high
The sceptre and the heavy orb of power,
To give to youth and beauty for a dower
Care and a crown, sorrow and sovereignty.
But from our hearts sprang an intenser flame
When loyal Love met tender Love half way,
And, in love’s script, wrote on the scroll of fame,
Entwined with all the splendour of that day,
The letters of her name.
Then as fair roses grow ’mid leaves of green,
Love amid loyalty grew strong and close,
To hedge a pleasaunce round our Royal rose,
Our sovereign maiden flower, our child, our Queen.
The trumpets spake – in sonorous triumph shout,
Their speech found echo in the hundred guns;
From countless towers the answering bells rang out,
And England’s heart spoke clamorous, through her sons,
The exulting land throughout.
Down streets ablaze with light the flags unfurled,
Along dark, lonely hills the joy-fires crept,
And eager swords within their scabbards leapt
To guard our Lady and Queen against the world.
Those swords are rusted now. Good men and true
Dust in the dust are laid who held her dear;
But from their grave the bright flower springs anew,
Which for her festival we bring her here,
The long years’ meed and due;
The bud of homage graffed on chivalry.
God took the souls that shrined the jewel of love,
But made their sons inheritors thereof,
In endless gold entail of loyalty.
Time, compensating life, the fruit bestowed
When in spent perfume passed the flower of youth;
Her feet were set upon the upward road,
Her face was turned towards the star of truth
That in her soul abode.
With youth the maid’s bright brow was garlanded
But richer crowns adorn the dear white hair;
The gathered love of all the years lies there,
In coronal benediction on her head.
She is of our blood, for hath not she, too, met
The angels of delight and of despair?
Does not she, too, remember and forget
How bitter or how bright the lost days were?
Her eyes have tears made wet;
She has seen joy unveilèd even as we,
Has laid upon cold clay the heart-warm kiss,
She has known Sorrow for the king he is;
She has held little children on her knee.
Mother, dear Mother, these your children rise
And call you blessèd, and shall
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Songs of love and empire

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