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Henry Alford

(1810-1871 / England)

A Crimean Thought.


Again those heavy tidings. On the breeze
Laden with death, they come. A thousand more
Stiff on the sod of Tauris: yon fair fleet,
Bearer of hope and comfort, charged with strength
For the great conflict, scattered on the rocks
Of that inhospitable sea. And those
Who lit our homes with joy, whose manly forms
Big with their manlier souls, we saw depart,
Whose names were borne with all our prayers to heaven,
Each, worthy to be chief,--each chief, a king,--
They, to be pierced, all helpless as they fell,
By the barbarian recreants, as men turn
To crush a reptile maimed! Farewell, Farewell!
And now, methinks, might England's banners droop
Each on its staff,--and now should mirth be hushed,
And traffic pause, and all our heavy bells
Go tolling for the fall'n; and the stark Foe
Who rules his icy realms in savage state,
Ukase his serfs, and peal Te Deums high,
Heaven's favourite, fenced by storms: while Britain's star
Sinks darkling in her western mists of blood.
NO! by the slain of Alma! by the band
Who flew to death on Balaklava's height!
NO! by the wild alarum, that rung out
In the dark dawn from proud Sebastopol,
Herald of Russia's shame: NO! by each wave
That smote our quivering barks, while the false foe
Marked down their struggling crews,--it shall not be!
Lift high the banner: stream it in the wind,
The wind, which is not his! Rouse, England's hearts!
From bowered hamlets, from our breezy hills,
From crowded suburbs, from the sea's far isles,
Come to the rescue, strong in Freedom's choice,
Each man, a host: his valour, in himself:
His quarrel, writ in heaven: his hope, with God!

Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010
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