Janet Hamilton

1795-1873 / Scotland

The Enemy In The Gate

To Britannia.

Nay, all this availeth thee nothing-
Thy prestige, thy power, and estate,
Thy glory, honour, and riches;
An enemy sits in the gate.
Thy place 'mong the nations is highest;
Britannia, thou sitt'st as a Queen:
Unequalled in commerce-in warfare
Unrivall'd thy conquests have been.
The seed of the Word ever sowing,
Thou toilest still early and late;
Yet all this availeth thee nothing,
Thy enemy sits in the gate.
Thy charities great and abundant
Relief to the needy dispense;
To open the portals of knowledge,
Unsparing of time and expense.
Yet all this availeth thee nothing-
Thy commerce, thy conquests, and state,
Thy charities, teachings, and sowings,
Thy enemy sits in the gate.
For in thee for ever abideth
A demon, most potent and fell,
The land is bestrewn with his victims,
His slain, who their numbers may tell?
The cup of deep anguish he brimmeth,
For parents bemoaning the fate
Of sons in the clutch of the demon,
Who sits evermore in the gate.
The wife often steepeth her pillow
With tears, as she listens by night
The voice and the tread of the demon,
Whose breath sheddeth cursing and blight.
He filleth the jail and the workhouse
With numbers astounding and great;
He feedeth the hulks and the gibbet,
And still he sits fast in the gate.
On children, pale, ragged, and famish'd,
He blows with his pestilent breath,
They wither, and wander in darkness,
And pine in the shadows of death.
We struggle to vanquish the demon,
To banish him furth of the State,
To save from perdition his victims,
But still he sits fast in the gate.
So all this availeth us nothing,
While revenue coffers he fills
With gold, from his fiery Alembics,
Distillery coppers and stills.
Avaunt thee! dread Demon, avaunt thee!
Too long we have courted our fate,
Drunk deep of thy cup of enchantment,
And, perishing, fell in the gate.
Britannia, who lately deliver'd
The captives of dark Theodore,
Has captives by thousands in bondage,
The captives of Drink, on her shore.
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