Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
Sonnets: America
By Sydney Dobell (1824–1874)
 
MEN say, Columbia, we shall hear thy guns,
But in what tongue shall be thy battle-cry?
Not that our sires did love in years gone by,
When all the Pilgrim Fathers were little sons
In merrie homes of Englaunde? Back, and see        5
Thy satchelled ancestor! Behold, he runs
To mine, and, clasped, they tread the equal lea
To the same village-school, where side by side
They spell ‘Our Father.’ Hard by, the twin pride
Of that grey hall whose ancient oriel gleams        10
Thro’ yon baronial pines, with looks of light
Our sister-mothers sit beneath one tree.
Meanwhile our Shakespeare wanders past and dreams
His Helena and Hermia. Shall we fight?
 
Nor force nor fraud shall sunder us? Oh ye        15
Who north or south, on east or western land,
Native to noble sounds, say truth for truth,
Freedom for freedom, love for love, and God
For God; oh ye who in eternal youth
Speak with a living and creative flood        20
This universal English, and do stand
Its breathing book; live worthy of that grand
Heroic utterance—parted, yet a whole,
Far, yet unsevered,—children brave and free
Of the great Mother-tongue, and ye shall be        25
Lords of an Empire wide as Shakespeare’s soul,
Sublime as Milton’s immemorial theme,
And rich as Chaucer’s speech, and fair as Spenser’s dream.
 
 
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