Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1352. Fair England
 
By Helen Gray Cone
 
 
WHITE England shouldering from the sea,
  Green England in thy rainy veil,
Old island-nest of Liberty
  And loveliest Song, all hail!
 
God guard thee long from scath and grief!        5
  Not any wish of ours would mar
One richly glooming ivy-leaf,
  One rosy daisy-star.
 
What! phantoms are we, spectre-thin,
  Unfathered, out of nothing born?        10
Did Being in this world begin
  With blaze of yestermorn?
 
Nay! sacred Life, a scarlet thread,
  Through lost unnumbered lives has run;
No strength can tear us from the dead;        15
  The sire is in the son.
 
Nay! through the years God’s purpose glides,
  And links in sequence deed with deed;
Hoar Time along his chaplet slides
  Bead after jewel-bead.        20
 
O brother, breathing English air!
  If both be just, if both be free,
A lordlier heritage we share
  Than any earth can be:
 
If hearts be high, if hands be pure,        25
  A bond unseen shall bind us still,—
The only bond that can endure,
  Being welded with God’s will!
 
A bond unseen! and yet God speed
  The apparent sign, when He finds good;        30
When in His sight it types indeed
  That inward brotherhood.
 
For not the rose-and-emerald bow
  Can bid the battling storm to cease,
But leaps at last, that all may know        35
  The sign, not source, of peace.
 
Oh, what shall shameful peace avail,
  If east or west, if there or here,
Men sprung of ancient England fail
  To hold their birthright dear?        40
 
If west or east, if here or there,
  Brute Mammon sit in Freedom’s place,
And judge a wailing world’s despair
  With hard, averted face?
 
O great Co-heir, whose lot is cast        45
  Beside the hearthstone loved of yore!
Inherit with us that best Past
  That lives for evermore!
 
Inherit with us! Lo, the days
  Are evil; who may know the end?        50
Strike hands, and dare the darkening ways,
  Twin strengths, with God to friend!
 

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