Gerald Massey: War Waits

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WAR WAITS


AUTHOR'S NOTE.
___________


THESE rough-and-ready war-rhymes can scarcely be looked upon as poetic fruit maturely ripened, but rather as windfalls, shook down in this wild blast of war.  I hasten to present them while they may yet be seasonable, lest they should not keep.  The reader may have met with a few of them in the Fourth Edition of the "Ballad of Babe Christabel, and other Lyrical Poems."  They are here included with the new ones to complete the series.  I have called them "Waits," conscious that they do but make a rude music in this dim night of war; and I dedicate them to the memory of JOHN BRIGHT, who fell so recently and so gloriously fighting the battles of the enemy.

_______________________


ED.—see also Hugh Miller, 'Characteristics of the Crimean War.'


CONTENTS.
________

Page.

WAR RUMOURS

1.

THE BATTLE MARCH

2.

NICHOLAS AND THE BRITISH LION

5.

DOWN IN AUSTRALIA

7.

LIBERTY'S BRIDAL WREATH

10.

AFTER ALMA. IN MEMORY OF THE DEAD

12.

BEFORE SEBASTOPOL

17.

A CRY FROM EXILE

20.

BALACLAVA

23.

THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER AT INKERMAN

25.

A WAR-WINTER'S NIGHT IN ENGLAND

33.

A BATTLE CHARGE

38.

CERTAIN MINISTERS AND THE PEOPLE

40.

AUSTRIAN ALLIANCE

42.

 


_______________________

WAR RUMOURS.


THERE she sits in her Island-home,
            Peerless among her Peers!
And Liberty oft to her arms doth come,
            To ease its poor heart of tears.
Old England still throbs with the muffled fire
            Of a Past she can never forget:
And again shall she banner the world up higher;
            For there's life in the Old Land yet.

They would mock at her now, who of old lookt forth
            In their fear, as they heard her afar;
But loud will your wail be, O Kings of the Earth!
            When the Old Land goes down to the war.
The Avalanche trembles half-launcht and half-riven,
            Her voice will in motion set:
O ring out the tidings, ye Winds of heaven!
            There's life in the Old Land yet.

The old nursing Mother's not hoary yet,
             There is sap in her Saxon tree;—
Lo! she lifteth a bosom of glory yet,
            Thro' her mists, to the Sun and the Sea.
Fair as the Queen of Love, fresh from the foam,
            Or a Star in a dark cloud set;
Ye may blazon her shame,—ye may leap at her name,—
            But there's life in the Old Land yet.
            
Let the storm burst, it will find the Old Land
            Ready-ripe for a rough, red fray!
She will fight as she fought when she took her stand
            For the Right in the olden day.
Ay, rouse the old Royal soul: Europe's best hope
            Is her sword-edge by Victory set!
She shall dash Freedom's foes adown Death's bloody
                slope;
            For there's life in the Old Land yet.

 

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THE BATTLE MARCH.


Now, glory to our England,
    As she rises, calm and grand,
With the ancient spirit in her eyes,
    The good Sword in her hand! 
Our royal right on battle-ground,
    Was aye to bear the brunt:
Ho! brave heart! for one passionate
        bound,
    And take thy place in front!
Now glory to our England,
    As she rises, calm and grand,
With the ancient spirit in her eyes—
    The good Sword in her hand!

Who would not fight for England?
    Who would not fling a life
I' the ring, to meet a Tyrant's gage,
    And glory in the strife?
Her stem is thorny, but doth burst
    A glorious Rose a-top!
And shall our dear Rose wither?
        First
    We'll drain life's dearest drop!
Who would not fight for England?
    Who would not fling a life
I' the ring to meet a Tyrant's gage,
    And glory in the strife?

To battle goes our England,
    All as gallant and as gay
As Lover to the Altar, on
    A merry marriage-day.
A weary night she stood to watch
    The battle-dawn up-roll'd;
And her spirit leaps within, to match
    The noble deeds of old.
To battle goes our England,
    All as gallant and as gay
As Lover to the Altar, on
    A merry marriage-day.

Now, fair befall our England,
    On her proud and perilous road;
And woe and wail to those who
        make
    Her foot-prints red with blood!
Up with our red-cross banner-roll
    A thunder-peal of drums!
Fight on there, every valiant soul,
    And courage!   England comes!
Now, fair befall our England,
    On her proud and perilous road;
And woe and wail to those who
        make
    Her foot-prints red with blood!

Now, victory to our England!
    And where'er she lifts her hand
In Freedom's fight, to rescue Right,
    God bless the dear Old Land!
And when the Storm has pass'd away,
    In glory and in calm,
May she sit down i' the green o' the
        day,
    And sing her peaceful psalm!
Now, victory to our England!
    And where'er she lifts her hand
In Freedom's fight, to rescue Right,
    God bless the dear Old Land!

 

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NICHOLAS AND THE BRITISH LION.


HE called to North, he called to South,
    "Come, see the world's great show!
I'll thrust my head in the Lion's mouth,"
    And he laught, "Ha! Ha!   Ho! Ho!"
"I am the Lion-Tamer dread—
    I make the old brute quail!"
The Lion he shook his incredulous head,
    And wagged his dubious tail.

O the Lion lay down in the pride of his
        might;
    'Twas a brave, magnanimous beast!
O the Lion leapt up to his tawny height,
    Like the lord of a bloody feast!
Now hold, now hold, thou desperate man,
    Or thy braggart cheek may pale;
Lo! Terror tow'rs mighty in his mane,
    And Vengeance tugs at his tail.

Like a statue of Satan, Nick, alas! stood,
    And he chuckled a lying laugh:
"The world is my Knoutship's whipping-top:
    Hot blood for wine I quaff!"
He call'd to North, he call'd to South,
    "Come, see the old brute quail:
I'll thrust my head in his mumbling mouth:"
    The Lion he wagg'd his tail.

He thrust his head in the Lion's month:
    Ho! Ho! but the sport was rare!
The Lion smelt blood in the giant's breath,
    And his clencht teeth held him there.
Then he cried, from between the gates of
        death,
    With the voice of a Spirit in bale,
"Now God-a-mercy on my soul!
    Does the Lion wag his tail?"

Then each one strove to say him Yea,
    But each one held his breath;
For the fires of hell lit the Lion's eyes,
    And his looks communed with Death!
The Giant's heart melts like snow in his
        mouth,
    His voice is a woman's wail;
The Avenger knocks at the door of his life,
    In that lash of the Lion's tail.

A low, dread sound, as from underground,
    Now signals the realms of the dead;
And the Tamer lies tamed on the earth full-
        length;
    That is, except—a head.
And the poor old beast, at whose aspect
        mild
    The meanest thing dared rail,
Shakes his mane like a Conqueror's bloody
        plumes,
    And—quietly wags his tail.

 

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DOWN IN AUSTRALIA.


QUAFF a cup, and send a cheer up for the Old Land!
                We have heard the Reapers shout,
                For the Harvest going out,
With the smoke of battle closing round the bold Land:
                And our message shall be hurl'd
                Up the ringing sides o' the world,—
There are true hearts beating for you in the Gold Land.

We are with you in your battles, brave and bold Land!
                For the old ancestral tree
                Striketh root beneath the sea,
And it beareth fruit of Freedom in the Gold Land!
                We shall come, too, if you call,
                We shall fight on if you fall;
Cromwell's land must never be a bought and sold Land.

O the standard of the Lord wave o'er the Old Land!
                For the waiting world holds breath
                While she treads the den of Death,
With the sleeve of Peace stript up from her bare, bold
                    hand:
                And her ruddy Rose will bloom
                On the bosom and the tomb
Of her many Heroes fallen for the Old Land.

O, a terror to the Tyrant is the Old Land!
                He remembers how she stood
                With her raiment roll'd in blood,
When the tide of battle burst upon the bold Land;
                And he looks with darken'd face,
                For he knows the hero-race
Sweep the Harp of Freedom—draw her Sword with bold
                    hand.

Let thy glorious voice be heard, thou great and bold Land!
                Speak the one victorious word,
                And fair Freedom's wandered Bird
Shall wing back with leaf of promise from the Old Land!
                And the Peoples shall come out
                From their slavery, with a shout
For the new world greening in the Future's Gold Land.

When the smoke of battle rises from the Old Land,
                You shall see the tyrant down,
                You shall see the ransom'd crown
On the brow of prison'd peoples, freed with bold hand!
                She shall thresh her foes like corn;
                They shall eat the bread of scorn,
And we'll sing her song of Triumph in the Gold Land.

Quaff a cup, and send a cheer up for the Old Land!
                We have heard the Reapers shout,
                For the Harvest going out,
Seen the smoke of battle closing round the bold Land:
                And our message shall be hurl'd
                Up the ringing sides o' the world,—
There are true hearts beating for you in the Gold Land.

 

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LIBERTY'S BRIDAL WREATH.


LIKE a stern old friend, War grimly comes
        To the temple of peaceful life;
With the well-known nod of his beckoning plumes,
        He hurries us into the strife!
And we meet once more, in the fields of fate,
        With our Chivalrous Enemy,
Who knows, by the grip of our hands in hate,
        What the strength of our love may be.
O ! the Lilies of France and Old England's Red Rose
        Are twined in a Coronal now;
And at War's bloody bridal it glitters and glows
        On Liberty's beautiful brow.

We have dasht together like waves and rocks!
        We have fought till our shirts grew red!
We have met in the shuddering battle shocks,
        Where none but the freed soul fled!
Now side by side, in the fields of fate,
        And shoulder to shoulder are we;
And we know, by the grip of our hands in hate,
        What the strength of our love may be.
O ! the Lilies of France and Old England's Red Rose
        Are twined in a Caronal now;
And at War's bloody bridal it glitters and glows
        On Liberty's beautiful brow.

Then gather ye, gather to battle, ye Braves,
        In the might of your old renown!
And follow ye, follow ye, over the waves,
        Where Liberty's sun went down!
By the bivouac-fire, in the battle-shower,
        Remember your destiny grand,
To set in the thrones of their olden power
        The peoples of many a land!
For the Lilies of France and Old England's Red Rose
        Are twined in a Coronal now;
And at War's bloody bridal it glitters and glows
        On Liberty's beautiful brow.

Till the last fetter'd nation that calls us is free,
        Let us fall upon Tyranny's horde!
Brave Italy, Poland, and Hungary, see,
        With their praying hands seek for a Sword!
Till the Storm-God is roused in each suffering land,
        Let us march thro' the welcoming world;
And till Freedom and Faith shall go hand-in-hand,
        Let us keep the war-standard unfurl'd!
For the Lilies of France and Old England's Red Rose
        Are twined in a Coronal now;
And at War's bloody bridal it glitters and glows
        On Liberty's beautiful brow.

 

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AFTER ALMA.

IN MEMORY OF THE DEAD.


OUR old War-banners on the wind
    Were dancing merrily o'er them;
The hopes of half the world behind—
    The sullen Foe before them!
They trode their march of battle, bold
    As death-devoted freemen;
Like those Three Hundred Greeks of old,
    Or Rome's immortal Three Men.
Ah, Victory! joyful Victory!
    Like Love, thou bringest sorrow;
But, O! for such an hour with thee,
    Who could not die to-morrow?

With towering heart and lightsome feet
    They went to their high places;
The fiery valour at white heat
    Was flashing in their faces!
Magnificent in battle-robe,
    And radiant, as from star-lands,
That spirit shone which bound our globe
    With glory, as with garlands!
Ah, Victory! joyful Victory!
    Like Love, thou bringest sorrow;
But, O! for such an hour with thee,
    Who could not die to-morrow?

Brave Hearts, with noble feeling flusht
    In ripe and ruddy riot
But Yesterday! how are ye husht
    Beneath the smile of Quiet!
For us they pour'd their blood like wine,
    From life's ripe-gather'd clusters;
And far thro' History's night shall shine
    Their deeds with starry lustres.
Ah, Victory! joyful Victory!
    Like Love, thou bringest sorrow;
But, O! for such an hour with thee,
    Who could not die to-morrow?

They saw the Angel Iris o'er
    Their deluge of grim fire;
And with their life's last tide they bore
    The Ark of Freedom higher!
And grander 'tis i' the dash of death
    To ride on Battle's billows,
When Victory's kisses take the breath,
    Than sink on balmiest pillows!
Ah, Victory! joyful Victory!
    Like Love, thou bringest sorrow;
But, O! for such an hour with thee,
    Who could not die to-morrow?

We laid them not in Churchyard home,
    'Neath our dear England's daisies;
Yet to their rude mounds Love will come,
    And sit, and sing their praises.
And soothly sweet shall be their rest
    Where Victory's hands have crown'd
        them;
To Earth our Mother's bosom prest,
    And Heaven's arms around them.
Ah, Victory! joyful Victory!
    Like Love, thou bringest sorrow;
But, O! for such an hour with thee,
    Who could not die to-morrow?

Yes, there they lie 'neath Alma's sod,
    On pillows dark and gory,—
As brave a host as ever trod
    Old England's fields of glory.
With head to home and face to sky,
    And feet the Tyrant spurning,
So grand they look; so proud they lie,
    We weep for glorious yearning.
Ah, Victory! joyful Victory!
    Like Love, thou bringest sorrow;
But, O! for such an hour with thee,
    Who could not die to-morrow?

They in Life's outer circle sleep,
    As each in death stood Sentry!
And with our England's Dead they keep
    Their watch for kin and country.
Up Alma, in their red footfalls,
    Comes Freedom's dawn victorious;
Their graves were courts to festal halls,
    They banquet with the Glorious.
Ah, Victory! joyful Victory!
    Like Love, thou bringest sorrow;
But, O! for such an hour with thee,
    Who could not die to-morrow?

Our Chiefs who matcht the men of yore,
    And bore our shield's great burden,—
The nameless Heroes of the Poor,—
    They all shall have their guerdon.
In silent eloquence, each life
    The Earth holds up to heaven;
And England gives for Child and Wife,
    As those dear hearts have given:
Ah, Victory! joyful Victory!
    Like Love, thou bringest sorrow ;
But, O! for such an hour with thee,
    Who could not die to-morrow?

The spirits of our fathers still
    Stand up in battle by us;
And in our need, on Alma hill,
    The Lord of Hosts was nigh us.
Let Joy or Sorrow brim our cup,
    'Tis an exultant story,
How England's Chosen Ones went up
    Red Alma's hill to glory. 
Ah, Victory! joyful Victory!
    Like Love, thou bringest sorrow;
But, O! for such an hour with thee,
    Who could not die to-morrow?

 

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BEFORE SEBASTOPOL.


HURRAH! we grip the Tyrant now!
    And there's no heart so lowly
But burns to strike a battle-blow,
    And win a cause so holy!
The Brave look fearless in the eyes
    Of Death, nor cry him quarter;
And grand promotion waits them,
        Boys,
    Who fall, by Land or Water.
Sing, O! but a jubilant carouse
    Awaits us in our far land,
When we shall thrust up conquering
        brows,
    And take our Country's Garland.

We'll seek the bed of Death, to win
    Fair Freedom's dream of beauty,
Or wrest her from the Tyrant, in
    The loving arms of duty.
Then gaily thro' the ocean foam
    Shall sail our nobler Argo,
And proudly to our Island-home
    We'll bear the precious cargo.
Sing, O! but a jubilant carouse
    Awaits us in our far land,
When we shall thrust up conquering
        brows,
    And take our Country's Garland.

Ah! think how yearning eyes will dim
    To greet us on the beaches,
With happy looks of love that swim
    Thro' long luxurious reaches!
They watch us now from out the West,
    But all too proud to sorrow
For us who rest on Victory's breast,
    Or wear her crown to-morrow.
Sing, O! but a jubilant carouse
    Awaits us in our far land,
When we shall thrust up conquering
        brows,
    And take our Country's Garland.

To-day the ancient valour starts,
    The spirit of old story
Shall flash from out heroic hearts,
    And kindle England's glory.
Wild voices wail across the sea,—
    They cry from many a woe-land,—
Revenge! remember Sinope!
    Revenge! remember Poland!
Sing, O! but a jubilant carouse
    Awaits us in our far land,
When we shall thrust up conquering
        brows,
    And take our Country's Garland.

Now, Soldiers, up to conquest stride,
    Let not one spirit falter;
For Victory is your plighted Bride,
    The Breach your solemn Altar.
Thick are the graves on Alma, see
    What costly seed lies sleeping!
God! but thy Sun shall stand, while we
    That Harvest-field are reaping!
Sing, O! but a jubilant carouse
    Awaits us in our far land,
When we shall thrust up conquering
        brows,
    And take our Country's Garland.

Now, Sailors, fight your Ships to-day
    As Grenville fought the Spaniard!
If Battle's bloodiest game they play,
    Have at them grip-and-poignard.
One thrilling shout for England, Ho!
    Then, naked for the fight, men,
Dash in like fire upon the foe,
    And God defend the Right, men!
Sing, O! but a jubilant carouse
    Awaits us in our far land,
When we shall thrust up conquering
        brows,
    And take our Country's Garland.

 

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CRY FROM EXILE.


How dimm'd is all thy glory, and how dark the shadow
            falls!
And wild the sorrow waileth, thro' thy hamlets and thy
            halls!
Thy banner burns no longer on the mountains and
            the lea,
And O! the dead are blessed who thy suffering may
            not see.
How are thy brave ones scattered on many an alien
            strand!
Thy darlings leal and true to thee, thou dear old
            Motherland!

They have bound thee in the grave-clothes, but we watch
            with tears and sighs
Till Freedom comes like Christ, and thou like Lazarus
            shalt rise.
Thy pale, pale face, my Country, yet shall flush with
            ripening bloom,
As Nature's colour kindles when the breath of Spring doth
            come.
O! come, thou Spring of promise; mighty Hope, put
            forth thy hand,
And build the arch of triumph for the dear old
            Motherland.

The birds that follow Summer, they come, and they
            depart,
For the land of my love, and the home of my heart;
And, like a wounded bird, my spirit trembles in the
            wind,
And flutters down, and they are gone, and I am left
            behind!
O my dovelets in the nest!   O the spoiler's bloody
            hand!
And I so far away from the dear old Motherland!

Sometimes when life is darkest, a glory bursts its
            glooms,
As lightning thro' the startled night the face of things
            illumes;
A sudden splendour smites me, and—ere the
            thunders roll—
I see thy face look radiant thro' the darkness of my
            soul:
And thou art sitting at the feet of Freedom, great and
            grand,
Thy children happy in thy smile, thou dear old
            Motherland.

O, thou among the nations for thy might shalt yet be
            themed,
Thy fatal curse, of Beauty by Love's blessing all
            redeemed! 
The red wounds where they pierced thee shall to scars of
            glory turn,
And in thy tearful eyes the light of boundless life
            shall burn:
The heavens are fill'd with Martyrs, but the earth still
            holds a band
Who will meet in battle yet for the dear old Motherland.

O! many are the gallant hearts will never answer
           when
Thy clarion-cry shall call us up to the field again!
And many are the tears must fall, and prayers go up to
           God,
But swift the vintage ripens, and the wine-press shall be
           trod!
The Harvest reddens rich for death ! the Reapers clench
           the hand,
And Victory comes to clasp his Bride, thou dear old
           Motherland.

 

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BALAKLAVA.


WE weep not for the Heroes whom we never more shall
            see,
We weep we were not with them in their ruddy revelry!
God of Battles! but 'twere glorious to have mounted
            Victory's Car,
When the Chivalry of Europe smote the squadrons of the
             Czar!

'Tis brave, while banners wave, to be where Freedom's
            Champions are,
And burst upon the Enemy like Gods from clouds of
            war!
Our Old Land beauteous leans above her darlings as they
            die,
And, bosom'd in her arms of love, her slain ones richly
            lie!

We bless'd them for the Battle, who but marcht to the
            Bier;
Some were riper for the Bridal—some were Fathers gray
            and sere;
With a kiss for Child and Wife, some went out in War's
            red wrack;
And to the land that gives us life, Who'd grudge to give
            it back?

I had a gallant Brother, loved at home, and dear to me—
I have a mourning Mother, winsome Wife, and Children
            three—
He lies with Balaklava's dead.   But let the Old Land
            call,
And we'd give our living remnant, and we 'd follow one
            and all!

We speak a few weak words; but, the great hearts gone
            to God,
They have fought with their Swords—won our battles red
            wet-shod!
While we sat at home, brave laurels for our Land they
            went to win;
And with smiles Valhalla lightens as those Heroes enter in.

We may never give the Motherland a gift so rich and rare
As they have given,—the jewels of their lives for her to
            wear.
They bore our Banner fearless to the death, as to the fight,
They lifted England peerless to the old heroic height.
Two Nations join their hands to bring meet tribute unto
            them!
And Rich and Poor join hearts to sing their regal
            Requiem.
O, we weep not for the Heroes whom we never more
            shall see,—
We weep we were not with them in their ruddy revelry.

 

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THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER AT
INKERMAN.


'Twas nigh the noon of night before the roaring guns
            did cease,
And at the smouldering fires of War we lit the pipe of
            peace.
At Four, a burst of Bells arose thro' Night's Cathedral dark,
It seem'd so like our Sabbath-chimes, we could but lie, and
            hark!
So like the Bells that call to prayer in the dear land far
            away;
Their music floated on the air, and kist us—to betray.
Our camp lay on the shadowy hill, all silent as a cloud,
Its very heart of life stood still—and the white Mist
            brought its shroud;
For Death was waking in the dark, and grimly smiled to see
How all was ranged and ready for his sumptuous jubilee.

O wily are the Russians, and they came to their wild work—
Their feet all shod with silence in the best blood of the
            Turk!
While in its banks our fiery tide of War serenely slept,
Their subtle serpentry up-crept, and stealthily they stept!
In the Ruins of the Valley do the Birds of Carnage stir?
There's a rustle in the gloom like wheels! feet trample—
            bullets whir—
Blessed God! the Foe is on us.   Now the Trumpets with
            a start
Thrill—like the cry of a wronged Queen—to the red roots
            of the heart;
And long and loud the wild war-drums with throbbing
            triumph roll,—
A sound to set the blood on fire, and warm the shivering
            soul.

The war-worn and the weary leapt up ready, fresh, and true !
No weak blood curdled white i' the face, no valour turn'd
            to dew;
Majestic as a God defied, arose our English Host—
All for the peak of Peril rusht—each for the fieriest post!
Thro' the mist, and thro' the mud, and o'er the hill-brow
            scowling grim,
As is the frown of Murder when he dreams a fearful dream.
On Bayonets and Swords the smile of conscious victory
            shone,
And down to death we dasht the Rebels plucking at our
            Throne.
Still on they came with face of flame, and storm of shot
            and shell—
Up!   Up! like heaven-scalers, as we hurl'd them back to
            Hell.

As Bridegroom leaves his wedded Bride in gentle slumbers
            seal'd,
Our England slumbered in the West, when her Warriors
            went a-field.
We thought of her, and swore that day to strike immortal
            blows;
Then all along the leaguered line the crash of battle rose.
Her Banners waved like blessing hands, and we knew it
            was the hour
For a glorious grip till fingers met in the throat of Russian
            power.
And at a bound, and with a sound that madly cried to kill,
The Lion of Old England leapt like lightning from the hill;
And there he stood superb, thro' all that Sabbath of the
            Sword,
And there he slew, with a terrible scorn, his hunters, horde
            on horde.

All Hell seemed bursting on us, as the yelling Demons
            came—
The red-mouthed cannon's fiery tongues lickt all the hills
            a-flame!
And whistling shell, and sneering shot, with devilish glee
            went past,
Like fiendish feet and laughter hurrying down the battle-
            blast.
And thro' the air, and round the hills, ran such a din
            sublime,
As tho' the Eternal's Ark were griding on the shores of
            Time.
No Sun! but none is needed,—Men can feel their way
            to fight,
With the lust of Battle in their face—eyes filled with fiery
            light;
And long ere dawn was red in heaven, upon the dark earth
            lay
The prophesying morning-red of a great and glorious day.

Like the old Sea, white-lipped with rage, they dash, in
            their despair,
On ranks of rock, and what a prize for the Wrecker Death
            was there!
But as t'were River Pleasaunce, did our fellows take that
            flood,
With a royal throbbing in the pulse that beat voluptuous
            blood.
The Guards went to the fight in grey, but now they're
            gory red
Christ save them, they're surrounded!   Leap your ram-
            parts of the dead,
And back the desperate battle, for there is but one short
            stride
Between the Russ and victory!   One more tug, you true
            and tried!
The Red Caps crest the hill—with bloody spur the
            Chasseurs ride,
Down like a flood from Etna foams their valour's burning
            tide.

Now, God for Merrie England, cry!   Hurrah for France
            the Grand,
As we charge the Foe together, all abreast, and hand to
            hand!
He but caught a shadowy glimpse across the smoke of
            Alma's fray
Of the Destroying Angel that shall smite his strength
            to-day.
Still we cry and charge together, and again, again, again,
Our plunging battle tears its path, and paves it with the
            slain.
Hurrah! the mighty host doth melt before our fervent
            heat,
And against our side its breaking heart doth faint and
            fainter beat.
O but it is a gallant show, and a merry march, as thus
We run into the glorious goal with shouts victorious!

From morn till night, we fought our fight, and at the
            set of sun
Stood Conquerors on Inkerman—our Soldiers' Battle won.
That morn their legions stood like corn in its pomp of
            golden grain!
That night the ruddy sheaves were reapt upon the misty
            plain!
For we cut them down by thunder-strokes, and piled the
            shocks of slain:
The hill-side like a vintage ran, and reel'd Death's harvest-
            wain.
We had hungry hundreds gone to sup in Paradise that night,
And robes of Immortality our ragged Braves bedight!
They fell in Boyhood's comely bloom, and Bravery's lusty
            pride;
But they made their bed o' the Russian dead, ere they lay
            down and died.

We gathered round the tent-fire in the evening cold and
            gray,
And thought of those who rankt with us in Battle's rich
            array,
Our Comrades of the morn who came no more from that
            fell fray!
The salt tears wrung out in the gloom of green dells far
            away—
The eyes of lurking Death that in Life's crimson bubbles
            play—
The stern white faces of the dead that on the dark ground
            lay
Like Statues of old Heroes, cut in precious human clay—
Some with a smile as life had stopt to music proudly
            gay—
The household Gods of many a heart all dark and dumb
            to-day!
And hard hot eyes grew ripe for tears, and hearts sank
            down to pray.

From alien lands, and dungeon-grates, how eyes will strain
            to mark
This waving Sword of Freedom burn and beckon thro' the
            dark!
The Martyrs stir i' their bloody shrouds, the rusty armour
            rings
Adown the long aisles of the dead, where lie the warrior
            Kings.
To the mighty Mother England came the radiant Victory
With Laurels red, and a bitter cup like Christ's last agony.
She took the cup, she drank it up, then raised her
            laurell'd brow:
Her sorrow seem'd like solemn joy, she lookt so noble now.
The dim divine of distance dies—the purpled Past grows
            wan,
As floods this crowning Glory o'er the heights of
            Inkerman.

 

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WAR-WINTER'S NIGHT IN ENGLAND.


WILD is the wintry weather!
    Dark is the night, and cold!
All closely we crowd together,
    Within the family fold.
A mute and mighty Shadow flies
    Across the land on wings of gloom;
And thro' each home its awful eyes
    May lighten with their stroke of doom.
Life's light burns dim—we hold the breath—
    And stern we sit in the shadow of Death,
Around the household fire—
    Straining our ears for the tidings of War,
And holding our hearts, like Beacons, up higher,
    For those who are fighting afar.

We talk of Britain's glory,
    We sing some brave old song,
Or tell the thrilling story
    Of her wrestle with the wrong.
Till we clutch the spirit-sword for the strife,
    And into our Rest would rather fall
Down Battle's cataract of life,
    Than turn the white face to the wall.
Sing, O, for a charge victorious!
    And the meekest face grows glorious!
As we sit by the household fire—
    Our souls within us like steeds of War!
And we hold our hearts, like Beacons, up higher,
    For those who are fighting afar.

And oft in silence solemn
    We peer from Night's dark tent,
And see each quivering column
    Like a cloud by lightning rent.
For death, how merry they mount and ride!
    Those swords look keen for their lap of gore!
Such Valour leaps out Deified!
    Such souls must rend the clay they wore!
How proud they sweep on Glory's track!
    So many start! so few come back
To sit by the household fire,
    And with rich tears wash their wounds of War,
Where we hold our hearts, like Beacons, up higher,
    For those who are fighting afar.

We thrill to the Clarion's clangour,
    And harness for the fight;
With the Warrior's glorious anger,
    We are nobly mad to smite;
No dalliance, save with Hate, hold we,
    Where Life and Death keep bloody tryste,
And all the red Reality
    Reels on us through a fiery mist!
Wave upon wave rolls Ruin's flood,
    And the hosts of the Tyrant melt in blood,
As we sit by the household fire;
    And our colour flies out to the music of War,
While we hold our hearts, like Beacons, up higher,
    For those who are fighting afar.

Old England still hath Heroes
    To wear her sword and shield!
We knew them not while near us,
    We know them in the field!
Look! how the Tyrant's hills they climb,
    To hurl our gage in his grim hold!
The Titans of the earlier time,
    Tho' larger-limb'd, were smaller-soul'd!
Laurel, or Amaranth, light their brow!
    Living or dead, we crown them now!
As we sit by the household fire,
    From the white cliffs watching the storm of War,
Holding our hearts, like Beacons, up higher,
    For those who are fighting afar.

O! their brave love hath rootage
    In the Old Land, deep and dear,
And Life's ripe, ruddy fruitage
    Hangs summering for them here!
And tender eyes, tear-luminous,
    Melt thro' their dreams, and star their skies,
While, pleading aye for home and us,
    The heart is one live brood of cries!
And old thoughts cling!   O how they cling!
    And sweet birds sing!   O how they sing!
Them back to the household fire,
    Where we wait for them weary and wounded
             from War,
Holding our hearts, like Beacons, up higher,
    For those who are fighting afar.

Ah, me! how many a Maiden
    Will wake o' nights, to find
Her tree of life, love-laden,
    Swept bare in this wild wind!
The Bird of bliss, to many a nest,
    Will come back never, never mo'!
And many a goodly, gallant crest
    That led to victory, now lies low!
We pray for them, we fear for them,
    And silently drop a tear for them,
As we sit by the household fire;
    Each life looking out for its own love-star!
Holding our hearts, like Beacons, up higher,
    For those who are fighting afar.

O, there 's no land like England,
    Wherever that land may be!
Of all the world 'tis king-land
    Crown'd, by its Bride, the Sea!
And they shall rest i' the balmiest bed,
    Who battle for it, and bleed for it!
And they shall be head of the Glorious Dead,
    Who die in the hour of need for it!
And long shall we sing of their deeds divine,
    In songs that warm the heart like wine,
As we sit by the household fire,
    And the tale is told of this night of War,
How we held our hearts, like Beacons, up higher,
    For those who were fighting afar.

 

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A BATTLE CHARGE.


HELP! for thy Braves, Old England,
    Who went to be Victors or die,
With the old battle-light on their faces,
    The old battle-fire in each eye!
In the red pass of bloodiest peril
    They fight, with their feet for death shod.
Help! for thy Braves, Old England,
    In the name of the most High God!*

March to the struggle, Old England,
    Majestic in all thy might!
Let the Armour be true as the heart is,
    And up to the red field of fight!
The blood of thy murdered Children
    Cries from that Crimean sod;
Avenge it! avenge it! avenge it!
    In the name of the most High God! 

O Star of a hundred brave battles,
    Break from the death-shadows now !
In the smile of thy dear blessed beauty,
    Let us lift up a luminous brow.
Thou crest on the forehead of Freedom,
    While the Tyrant's sun darkens in blood,
Burn on in thy riper radiance,
    In the name of the most High God!

Leaves fall, but the green buds are peeping;
    Flowers die, but their seed will bloom;
And from death comes the young life
        leaping,
    Like Spring, from her wintry tomb!
And for every dear life that hath fallen,
    By ten shall the track be trod,
On the way they were going to conquest,
    In the name of the most High God!

We have chosen a goodly garden,
    Where our old Red Rose may blow!
With bloody hands, eyes red and burning,
    There the living our dead laid low!
Shall the foe keep his Bacchanal triumph
    Blood-drunken, and dance on the sod
That is quick with the Flower of our Nation,
    In the name of the most High God?

Now is thine hour, Old England!
    In thy glory front the world!
Fight as they've fought, and the Despot
    Down to the dust shall be hurl'd.
Till he sit in his desolation,
    Till he weep bitter tears of blood,
Strike the Russian heart-home, Old Nation,
    In the name of the most High God!


* When the swords of the Ironsides flashed out for
the battle of Waisby-Field, the voice of Cromwell was
heard bidding the men charge through "in the name of
the most High God."

 

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_______________________

CERTAIN MINISTERS AND THE
PEOPLE.


With faces turn'd from Battle, they went forth:
We marcht with ours set stern against the North.
They shuffled lest their feet might rouse the dead:
We went with martial triumph in our tread.
They trembled lest the world might come to blows:
We quiver'd for the tug and mortal close.
They only meant a mild hint for the Czar:
We would have bled him through a sumptuous war.
While they were quenching Freedom's scatter'd fires,
We kindled memories of heroic Sires.
They'd have this grand old England cringe and pray,
"Don't smite me, Kings; but if you will, you may:"
We'd make her as in those proud times of old,
When Cromwell spoke, and Blake's war-thunders roll'd.
They to the passing powers of darkness fawn:
With warrior joy we greet this crimson Dawn.
To crown'd Bloodsuckers they would bind us slaves:
We would be free, or sleep in glorious graves.
State-Spiders, Here or There, weave webs alike;
These hold the victims, while the others strike.
The Dwarfs trail our great Banner in the mire:
We ask for men to bear it high and higher.
O, stop their fiddling over War's grim revel;
And pitch them from their dream-land to—the Devil.

 

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_______________________

AUSTRIAN ALLIANCE.


How shall I help thee, Mother, in thy need?
I cry, and look my life out thro' mine eyes,
Across the smoke of thy great Sacrifice.
Give me some perilous post, or daring deed.
O might I breathe in Song heroic breath,
And strike my harp, as Lightning smites his wires,
To bear God's message with celestial fires!
Sing how the Glory of our land hath risen;
Sing midnight pćans by the Martyrs' graves;
Walk War's red highways, voyage grim wide waves :
Or in an English cheer go down to death,
Where the soul bursts in wings on Battle's wind!
No!   England waves her Minstrels forth to find
Our Lion Heart again in Austria's prison.

 



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