Edith Nesbit

15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924 / Kennington / Surrey / England

A Song For Peace And Honour


LADY and Queen, for whom our laurels twine,
Upon whose head the glories of our land
In one immortal diadem are met,
Embodied England, in whose woman-hand
The sceptre of Imperial sway is set,
Receive this song of mine!
For you are England, and her bays grow green
To deck your brow, your goodness lends her grace,
And in our hearts your face is as Her face;
The Mother-Country is the Mother-Queen.
We, men of England, children of her might,
With all our Mother's record-roll of glory,
Great with her greatness, noble by her name,
Drank with our mothers' milk our Mother's story,
And in our veins the splendour of her fame
Made strong our blood and bright;
And to her absent sons her name has been
Familiar music heard in distant lands,
Heart of our heart and sinews of our hands,
England, our Mother, our Mistress and our Queen!
Out of the thunderous echoes of the past
Through the gold-dust of centuries we hear
Her voice, 'O children of a royal line,
Sons of her heart, whom England holdeth dear,
Mine was the Past--make ye the future mine
All glorious to the last!'
And, as we hear her, cowards grow to men,
And men to heroes, and the voice of fear
Is as a whisper in a deaf man's ear,
And the dead past is quick in us again.
Her robe is woven of glory and renown,
Hers are the golden-laden Argosies,
And lordship of the wild and watery ways,
Her flag is blown across the utmost seas:
Dead nations built her throne, and kingdoms blaze
For jewels in her crown.
Her Empire like a girdle doth enfold
The world; her feet upon her foes are set;
She wears the steel-wrought, blood-bright amulet
Won by her children in the days of old.
Yet in a treasury of such gems as these
Which power and sovereignty and kingship fill
To the vast limit of the circling sun,
England, our Mother, in her heart holds still,
As her most precious jewel, save only one,
The priceless pearl of peace--
Peace plucked from out the very heart of war
Through the long agony of strenuous years,
Made pure by blood and sanctified by tears,
A pearl to lie where England's treasures are.
O peaceful English lanes all white with may,
O English meadows where the grass grows tall,
O red-roofed village, field and farm and fold
Where the long shadows of the elm-trees fall
On the wide pastures which the sun calls gold
And twilit dew calls gray;--
These are the home, the happy cradle-place
Of every man who has our English tongue,
Sprung from those loins from which our sires have sprung,
Heirs of the glory of our mighty race!
Brothers, we hold the pearl of priceless worth:
Shall Peace, our pearl, by us be cast aside?
Is it not more to us than all things are?
Nay, Peace is precious as the world is wide,
But England's honour is more precious far
Than all the heavens and earth.
Were honour outcast from her supreme place
Our pearl of Peace no more a pearl would shine,
But, trampled under-foot of cowards and swine,
Rot in the mire of a deserved disgrace.
Know then, O ye our brothers over sea,
We will not cast our pearl of Peace away,
But, holding it, we wait; and if, at last,
The whole world came against us in array,
If all our glory into darkness passed,
Our Empire ceased to be,
Yet should we still have chosen the better part
Though in the dust our kingdoms were cast down,
Though lost were every jewel in our crown
We still should wear our jewel in our heart.
So, for our Mother's honour, if it must
Let Peace be lost, but lost the worthier way;
Not trampled down, but given, for her sake
Who forged of many an iron yesterday
The golden song that gold-tongued fame shall wake
When we are dust, in dust:
For brotherhood and strife and praise and blame
And all the world, even to our very land,
Weighed in the balance, are as a grain of sand
Against the honour of our English name!
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