Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929 / Great Britain)
Non Angli Sed Angeli
' not Angles merely but of angel stock,
These boys blue-eyed and shining from the sea,
Which like a silver girdle belts their home.
Not slaves but souls, not tools to use,
But men to love and lead and save for God
Who made them; and for that great King who died
The death of shame and glory on the Cross.'
So spake the master Christian of the world,
Long years ago when, in the streets of Rome
Imperial, he met the ancestors
Of that yet greater Rome which was to be.
So spake he, taught by Him to whose great soul
There were no slaves nor chattels in the world
But only men and brothers. Sons of God,
The last and greatest works of wondrous love,
From whose eternal energy of pain
The greatest and the least of things is sprung.
So spake he, taught by Him who mirrored forth
To men's blind eyes that Love divine of God,
Who, like a father, mourns the one lost son,
And, like a faithful shepherd, wanders wide
Across the hills, and calls through dawnless dark
The one lost sheep that strays forth, from the fold.
Christ lived in him, and he had learned full well
The first and chiefest lesson of His life,
The value of a man to God, the price
God puts on human souls, the price of blood
And pain paid out in coin of Calvary.
And in that blazing light of Love he saw
The sin of slavery, the sin supreme,
That slays the world because it values life
As death, and dares to use as mere machines
For pleasure or for profit, living men.
This blasphemy against the Holy Ghost,
Which, neither in this world nor in the next,
Can find forgiveness in the heart of God,
Who only knows the value of a man,
He saw it with the eyes of Christ, and spoke
In all unconscious prophecy, the doom
Of slavery, which these same blue-eyed boys
Would one day die to banish from the world.
And I have seen them die in these last days,
Yes, I have seen their bright blue eyes grow dim
With agony, yet never lose their smile,
The dauntless smile of Angles that reveals
Their angel souls, and crowns them Kings by right,
The destined saviours of the world from sin,
And from the curse of tyranny which kills
The souls of men, and turns them into slaves.
Yes, I have seen them smile at death, and known,
By instinct of sure prophecy, the Truth,
That seas of dead tyrannic force would break
In vain against the rock of British hearts,
Whereon the love of freedom sits enthroned.
This have I known, and have with tears rejoiced,
Until there shivered through me like the sudden chill
Of death, the fear lest gold be strong where steel
Is weak and helpless, lest those who can't
Be conquered may be bought and sold for gain.
The day of tyrant kings is dead and thrones
Shall nevermore dethrone men's souls. But now
A dull inhuman monster takes their place.
The minotaur of Mammon tears the wings
From fluttering souls and flings them bleeding
To dogs of greed and lust. To him they are
Dead hands, machines that make machines, and grind
Out gold to swell the coffers of the rich.
They have no right to fly, their wings are best
Cut short, that so their hands may be more strong
To work, make wealth, build up the State, and set
The Commonwealth on sure foundations, made
Of gold and silver and of precious stones.
To him a man is of less value than
A beast of burden, for the beast must needs
Be bought for gold, and if he dies be bought
Again, but men need not be bought; they are
Machines for hire that can be scrapped at will,
And new ones hired with no fresh cost at all,
Because they die or weaken in their work.
Supply is plentiful and men are drugs
Upon the crowded markets of the world.
So Satan takes new forms and when he finds
The sword is weak, too weak to win brave hearts
As slaves, creeps snakelike in in time of Peace
To fetter free-born men with golden chains
And lead them helpless captives down to hell.
0 England, when this wave of war is spent,
And rolls back baffled from thy rocky breast,
Wilt thou be strong to slay the Minotaur,
And strangle that great golden snake that crept
In time of Peace about thy home to kill,
With venom of low greed and lust of wealth,
The soul of Freedom and the heart of Love ?
Shall wealth still grow and woe increase to breed
In filthy slums the slaves of poverty ?
Shall senseless pride and vulgar luxury
By gilding over evil make it good ?
Shall souls be only hands again, dead hands,
That toil for wealth that makes none rich save those
Who need it not ? Shall men still seek in drink
A refuge from the burden of their strife,
And from that dull monotony of grey
That shadows half our cities from the sun ?
Shall women still be bought and sold like dogs
Upon the streets because the wage they earn
By work will not keep bodies for their souls ?
Shall children come to birth, too weak to live,
Not even hands of strength, but feeble hands,
That clutch at life and die—just born to die
And cry—cry shame upon the grimy world
That murdered them ? If this be what must come,
Then Blessed are the dead who die in war,
Their bodies shattered but their souls untouched
By slime of sin, unpoisoned by the snake.
For war is kinder than a Godless peace.
O England, let this message from the past
Bing down the ages like a trumpet call,
Not Angles these but Angels, souls not slaves.
Let Thy wealth be counted not in sov'reigns
But in souls—men and women strong in mind
And body, in children's love and laughter
And in those happy aged ones who stand
Between the seas of life, and, looking back
And forwards, vow that human life is good.
So must our land be reckoned rich or poor
Comments about this poem (Non Angli Sed Angeli by Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy )
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