Ode on the Stability of the British Empire

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ODE

on the Stability of the British Empire, written

on the Occasion of the Coronation of

King Edward the Seventh.

 

By JOHN SIMPSON

 

I.

The mists that hide the storied past uprise,
A vision of ten centuries appears;
Three lines of kings appear before the eyes,
That coalesce, and last a thousand years;
Down through the ages to the present day.
The triune line appears, and still has sway.
Three nations now are one,
The strife of old is done;
Awake the lyre, and sing the song of peace!
The enmities of yore,
Entomb for evermore;
Of ancient discord let there be surcease!

Although a thousand years have run their race,
Since royal Alfred struggled with the Dane,
A king who can from Alfred clearly trace
His lineage doth now in England reign;
The throne of England, having for its wall
The full consent of freemen, cannot fall.
A hundred thrones are low.
But it doth stronger grow;
Ye sons of England, let your voices rise
In thanks for Heaven's aid;
Though realms arise and fade.
The ancient realm of England never dies.

Ten centuries ago the Scottish throne,
Bv monarchs, crowned upon the Lia-Fail.
Was held; and soon, around the ancient Stone
Assembled, will the Scottish leaders hail
A king, whose line come down from days of eld,
A thousand years the Scottish throne has held.
The king descent can trace
From Scotland's royal race;

The blood of Robert Bruce is in his veins;
The Scottish pipes bring forth,
Ye Britons of the North,
And rouse again the ancient Scottish strains.

At Tara, in the famous days of old,
Ere Scotland saw the mystic Stone of Fate,
The kings of Ireland, girt with heroes bold.
Were crowned upon it wth befitting state;
King Edward's sires their shields at Tara bore,
And Irish bards their prowess sang of yore.
Ye sons of Ireland raise
Your voices loud in praise;
Bring forth the harp, as did your sires renowned;
Attune the vibrant strings,
A son of Ireland's kings
Upon the Lia-Fail is to be crowned.

In England, Scotland, Ireland, ancient days
Have vanished; but a living link exists.
That binds them to the present, and the gaze
Doth carry backward through the ancient mists;
Through thirty generations handed down,
The stock of Alfred still doth wear the crown;
To ancient feuds a truce,
The lines of Robert Bruce
And Edward now are blended into one;
The harp of Ireland sound,
A king is to be crowned
Of Ireland's royal line, and strife is done.

 

II.

Chaldea, Persia, Greece and Rome,
The greatest empires of the past,
Were evanescent, like the foam
That lives a moment with the blast;
They bowed their heads at Ruin's call.
And feebly tottered to their fall;
The homes of bats and owls were all
Their palaces at last.

They could not live; their corner-stones
Were wars that freeborn men enslaved;
They could not live; with human bones

Their paths of triumph all were paved;
Their cities were the work of slaves.
Their thrones were built o'er yawning graves;
They rose, then vanished, like the waves
That on their borders raved.

But freedom is the corner-stone
On which the British Empire stands;
What though it oft doth stand alone?
It is not built on shifting sands.
But on the rock of freemen's choice;
The humblest in it hear the voice
Of Justice cheer them, and rejoice
Within its many lands.

Though scattered, all its lands are one,
The British flag floats over all;
And never be the bond undone
That binds them, lest they, sundered, fall;
The British Empire doth embrace
A fourth of all the human race;
Its nations, linked, can dangers face.
And none can them appall.

The throne alone doth make them one,
And British unity defend;
They know it must not be undone.
And to the Coronation send
Their noblest sons; in bright array.
Around the throne, united they
Are marshalled now, the Empire's slay,
On which it doth depend.

The men who love the Maple leaf,
And on Canadian plains abide,
Have left for Africa the sheaf
And herd, to check invasion's tide;
They love all measures lenitive.
Esteem the Boer, and fain would give
Him equal rights with all who live
In Britain's empire wide.

The men who love the Southern Cross,
The emblem of their sea-girt land;
And on their shields its stars emboss,

Around the British banner stand.
New Zealand, that would fain restore
The Golden Age, doth war deplore,
Yet sends her legions more and more
To Africa stricken strand.

From Africa come sounds of war;
The beating of the martial drum
Is heard; the bugle sounds afar;
But good will from confusion come;
The Boer will yet, with joyous pride,
Beneath the British flag abide,
And onward march with mighty stride,
When war's dread voice is dumb.

The British flag doth freely wave
In India, and doth millions there
From fell invasion's horrors save,
And sure protection to them bear.
Egyptian toilers love to see
The flag that gave them liberty;
A thousand islands, full of glee.
Their loyalty declare.

The mighty ocean doth attest
The boundless range of Britain's sphere
Of action; for, upon its breast.
Her flag doth everywhere appear.
As stars the sky, that flag the sea
Bedecks; the emblem of the free
It is; to all who liberty
Uphold, it is most dear.

Our country's present and its past
Are through the throne together bound;
No other bond was formed to last;
In ruins now upon the ground
Are lying castles, abbeys, walls,
Till scarce a mark their site recalls;
The self-same line in royal halls
A thousand years is found.

That line has late received within
Its ranks a queen, whose presence bright
The homage of all hearts doth win,

Who fills the royal home with light.
The Dane, King Alfred's deadly foe,
Has added to his line a glow
Of sunshine; strifes of long ago
From earth have taken flight.

 

III.

Eight hundred years have vanished since the day,
When William, girt with Norman knights, was crowned
With splendor at Westminster, yet the gray
Old walls will soon re-echo with the sound
Of loyal cheers in honour of a king
Who traces from him lineal descent.
Whose Norman blood is with the Saxon blent.
And Celtic, and to whom traditions cling
That fill the British heart with feelings deep;
All English kings since William have been there
Invested with the crown; the tranquil air
Has oft resounded with the trumpet's blare;
The trumpet's sound around the Abbey sweep
Once more, and rouse the ancient echoes from
their sleep.

Eight hundred years! What food for earnest thought
To every British mind this record brings!
How wondrous is it that the selfsame spot
Has seen so long the selfsame line of kings
Receive the crown! Stability must be
The leading feature of the British race;
The ravages of ages, that efface
All ancient landmarks, from their dread decree
Of ruin, have the British royal line
Exempted; it doth bind together all
The scattered British nations and recall
The past, and may no evil on it fall;
A thousand years their proud traditions twine
Around the British throne, and save it from decline.

What wondrous visions throng upon the eyes,
When gazing on Westminster's hoary walls!
The bold Crusaders from their graves arise;
Again the shout, "Long live King Richard!" falls
Upon the ear within the storied fane;
King Edward, who at Crecy raised on high

The red cross of old England, there doth lie;
King Henry, who at Agincourt amain
Upon the hosts of France triumphant rushed.
And through her ranks with England's bravest
pressed,
Within Westminster long has lain at rest;
Elizabeth, who stifled in her breast
Compassion, and unhappy Mary crushed.
Is lying there beside her, both their voices hushed.

The place is sacred! There doth lie the dust
Of bards by whom the nation's deeds were sung;
The place is sacred! Men who won the trust
Of England, and her cause with burning tongue
Espoused, are lying there. The honoured dead
Of all the British realm are there interred;
Their tongues are silent, but they still are heard;
Though low at rest doth lie each sleeping head,
Their words the souls of millions still inspire;
They tread the earth no longer, but their clear,
Heart-stirring voices countless thousands hear;
Their souls are with us; still their thoughts career
Throughout the earth, as when, with thoughts on fire.
They struck inspiring notes upon their country's lyre.

Within Westminster, as in ages past,
Are gathering the leaders of our race;
From all the wide-spread nations that the vast
And mighty British Empire doth embrace.
Come leaders of the people to behold
The monarch crowned, as, for a thousand years,
Has been the wont of England's loyal peers.
As was King David, in the days of old,
Anointed, so does every British king
Receive anointment; centuries have gone
Since England's ancient crown was placed upon
King Edward the Confessor; yet anon
The selfsame rites will to the present bring
The past. O British race, thou art no fickle thing!

Ye British nations, Heaven glorify!
Exalt your voices fervently in praise!
The lot of earthly things is but to die,
And naught but Heaven's power ever stays
The hand of dread Destruction in its course;

The earth is Heaven's footstool, and the might
Of earthly nations shrivels, when the blight
Of Heaven's wrath doth touch them with its force.
The British Empire, to continue, must
To Heaven give the glory, not to man;
All ancient empires fell beneath the ban
Of Heaven, and their courses quickly ran;
The British Empire must in Heaven trust,
Or, like proud Babylon, be levelled with the dust.

 

IV.

Ye Britons, wake your country's lyre!
Evoke sweet music from the strings!
May strains of joy your hearts inspire!
Your paeans rise on soaring wings!
From every sea, from every zone,
Come forward with deep loyalty!
The proud and ancient British throne,
Begird with Britain's chivalry!
Hail! Hail! Hail! Britannia!
Mother of a virile brood,
Who will from all ills protect thee.
Grateful for thy motherhood.

A thousand years that throne has stood,
Unshaken by the jars of time,
And now a mighty brotherhood
Of nations, with a faith sublime.
Around il stands, a wall august,
That doth its permanence secure;
The thrones of old are in the dust,
The British throne doth yet endure.
Hail! Hail! Hail! Britannia!
Wreaths unfading deck thy brow;
Though a thousand years existent,
In the pride of youth art thou.

The sun surveys our planet's track,
Flag after flag his vision flees;
But in his sight the Union Jack
Doth ever float upon the breeze.
Land after land his rays adorn,
And each the robe of night doth wear
In turn; but it is ever morn

On British soil, his constant care.
Hail! Hail! Hail! Britannia!
Living long, but ever young;
On the waters of all oceans
To the breeze thy flag is flung.

The earth around the sun careers,
Its sounds commingled sunward float;
Amid them all he ever hears
The British bugle's thrilling note
Much land, in turn, doth greet his light
At daybreak with the beat of drum;
The British drum-beat has no night,
Its echoes to him ever come.
Hail! Hail! Hail! Britannia!
Thou art in the front of time;
And the sunlight sheds its glory
On thy sons in every clime.

May Britain's children never weep
Beside their fallen country's grave!
May British songs of gladness sweep
Around the earth, a swelling wave!
A host of loyal Briton's now
Their king with joyous greetings hail;
Long live the crown upon his brow,
And never may its glory pale!
Hail! Hail! Hail! Britannia!
May composure mark thy mien;
'Mid the tumults of the nations,
May thou ever sit serene.

All hail the glad, auspicious day
That marks King Edward's budding reign!
All hail the light of freedom's ray
That gladdens Britain's vast domain!
From peaceful lands, from smiling seas
Deep orisons to Heaven rise!
A million anthems lade the breeze,
And sweep in concert to the skies.
Hail! Hail! Hail! Britannia!
Glorify the Lord of Hosts;
Every nation falls in ruin,
That its own achievement boasts.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).