William Watson

1858-1935 / England

Our Men

Our men, they are our stronghold,
Our bastioned wall unscaled,
Who, against Hate and Wrong, hold
This Realm that never quailed;
Who bear the noblest burden
Life lays on shoulders broad,
Asking not fame or guerdon,
Asking not gold or laud.
They go where England speeds them;
They laugh and jest at Fate.
They go where England needs them
And dream not they are great,
And oft, 'mid smoke and smother
By blinding warstorm fanned
Sons of our mighty Mother,
They fall that she may stand.
Our sailors, save when sleeping
The light sleep of the sea,
Their ancient watch are keeping,
Mother, for thine and thee!
They guard thy maiden daughters
From worse than death or pain;
The men who ward the waters,
The men who man the main.
When navies meet and wrestle,
And their vast arms strike home --
Vessel with monstrous vessel
Matched on the flame-lit foam --
What fleet returns in glory?
What fleet makes haste to fly?
O Sea, that knowest our story,
Thou, thou canst best reply!
Then hail to all who gave us
Their might of arm and soul,
Hot and athirst to save us,
To heal, and keep us whole;
Whether they serve where yonder
Far-burrowing trenches run,
Or where the ocean thunder
Peals with the thundering gun.
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