Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
 
Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
 
[Published in 1852]

I
BURY the Great Duke
  With an empire’s lamentation,
Let us bury the Great Duke
  To the noise of the mourning of a mighty nation,
Mourning when their leaders fall,        5
Warriors carry the warrior’s pall,
And sorrow darkens hamlet and hall.
 
II
Where shall we lay the man whom we deplore?
Here, in streaming London’s central roar.
Let the sound of those he wrought for,        10
And the feet of those he fought for,
Echo round his bones for evermore.
 
III
Lead out the pageant: sad and slow,
As fits an universal woe,
Let the long procession go,        15
And let the sorrowing crowd about it grow,
And let the mournful martial music blow;
The last great Englishman is low.
 
IV
Mourn, for to us he seems the last,
Remembering all his greatness in the Past.        20
No more in soldier fashion will he greet
With lifted hand the gazer in the street.
O friends, our chief state-oracle is mute:
Mourn for the man of long-enduring blood,
The statesman-warrior, moderate, resolute,        25
Whole in himself, a common good.
Mourn for the man of amplest influence,
Yet clearest of ambitious crime,
Our greatest yet with least pretence,
Great in council and great in war,        30
Foremost captain of his time,
Rich in saving common-sense,
And, as the greatest only are,
In his simplicity sublime.
O good gray head which all men knew,        35
O voice from which their omens all men drew,
O iron nerve to true occasion true,
O fall’n at length that tower of strength
Which stood four-square to all the winds that blew!
Such was he whom we deplore.        40
The long self-sacrifice of life is o’er.
The great World-victor’s victor will be seen no more.
 
V
All is over and done:
Render thanks to the Giver,
England, for thy son.        45
Let the bell be toll’d.
Render thanks to the Giver,
And render him to the mould.
Under the cross of gold
That shines over city and river,        50
There he shall rest for ever
Among the wise and the bold.
Let the bell be toll’d:
And a reverent people behold
The towering car, the sable steeds:        55
Bright let it be with its blazon’d deeds,
Dark in its funeral fold.
Let the bell be toll’d:
And a deeper knell in the heart be knoll’d;
And the sound of the sorrowing anthem roll’d        60
Thro’ the dome of the golden cross;
And the volleying cannon thunder his loss;
He knew their voices of old.
For many a time in many a clime
His captain’s-ear has heard them boom        65
Bellowing victory, bellowing doom:
When he with those deep voices wrought,
Guarding realms and kings from shame;
With those deep voices our dead captain taught
The tyrant, and asserts his claim        70
In that dread sound to the great name,
Which he has worn so pure of blame,
In praise and in dispraise the same,
A man of well-attemper’d frame.
O civic muse, to such a name,        75
To such a name for ages long,
To such a name,
Preserve a broad approach of fame,
And ever-echoing avenues of song.
 
VI
Who is he that cometh, like an honour’d guest,
        80
With banner and with music, with soldier and with priest,
With a nation weeping, and breaking on my rest?
Mighty Seaman, this is he
Was great by land as thou by sea.
Thine island loves thee well, thou famous man,        85
The greatest sailor since our world began.
Now, to the roll of muffled drums,
To thee the greatest soldier comes;
For this is he
Was great by land as thou by sea;        90
His foes were thine; he kept us free;
O give him welcome, this is he
Worthy of our gorgeous rites,
And worthy to be laid by thee;
For this is England’s greatest son,        95
He that gain’d a hundred fights,
Nor ever lost an English gun;
This is he that far away
Against the myriads of Assaye
Clash’d with his fiery few and won;        100
And underneath another sun,
Warring on a later day,
Round affrighted Lisbon drew
The treble works, the vast designs
Of his labour’d rampart-lines,        105
Where he greatly stood at bay,
Whence he issued forth anew,
And ever great and greater grew,
Beating from the wasted vines
Back to France her banded swarms,        110
Back to France with countless blows
Till o’er the hills her eagles flew
Beyond the Pyrenean pines,
Follow’d up in valley and glen
With blare of bugle, clamour of men,        115
Roll of cannon and clash of arms,
And England pouring on her foes.
Such a war had such a close.
Again their ravening eagle rose
In anger, wheel’d on Europe-shadowing wings,        120
And barking for the thrones of kings;
Till one that sought but Duty’s iron crown
On that loud sabbath shook the spoiler down;
A day of onsets of despair!
Dash’d on every rocky square        125
Their surging charges foam’d themselves away;
Last, the Prussian trumpet blew;
Thro’ the long-tormented air
Heaven flash’d a sudden jubilant ray,
And down we swept and charged and overthrew.        130
So great a soldier taught us there,
What long-enduring hearts could do
In that world-earthquake, Waterloo!
Mighty Seaman, tender and true,
And pure as he from taint of craven guile,        135
O saviour of the silver-coasted isle,
O shaker of the Baltic and the Nile,
If aught of things that here befall
Touch a spirit among things divine,
If love of country move thee there at all,        140
Be glad, because his bones are laid by thine!
And thro’ the centuries let a people’s voice
In full acclaim,
A people’s voice,
The proof and echo of all human fame,        145
A people’s voice, when they rejoice
At civic revel and pomp and game,
Attest their great commander’s claim
With honour, honour, honour, honour to him,
Eternal honour to his name.        150
 
VII
A people’s voice! we are a people yet.
Tho’ all men else their nobler dreams forget,
Confused by brainless mobs and lawless Powers;
Thank Him who isled us here, and roughly set
His Briton in blown seas and storming showers,        155
We have a voice, with which to pay the debt
Of boundless love and reverence and regret
To those great men who fought, and kept it ours.
And keep it ours, O God, from brute control;
O Statesmen, guard us, guard the eye, the soul        160
Of Europe, keep our noble England whole,
And save the one true seed of freedom sown
Betwixt a people and their ancient throne,
That sober freedom out of which there springs
Our loyal passion for our temperate kings;        165
For, saving that, ye help to save mankind
Till public wrong be crumbled into dust,
And drill the raw world for the march of mind,
Till crowds at length be sane and crowns be just.
But wink no more in slothful overtrust.        170
Remember him who led your hosts;
He bade you guard the sacred coasts.
Your cannons moulder on the seaward wall;
His voice is silent in your council-hall
For ever; and whatever tempests lour        175
For ever silent; even if they broke
In thunder, silent; yet remember all
He spoke among you, and the Man who spoke;
Who never sold the truth to serve the hour,
Nor palter’d with Eternal God for power;        180
Who let the turbid streams of rumour flow
Thro’ either babbling world of high and low;
Whose life was work, whose language rife
With rugged maxims hewn from life;
Who never spoke against a foe;        185
Whose eighty winters freeze with one rebuke
All great self-seekers trampling on the right:
Truth-teller was our England’s Alfred named;
Truth-lover was our English Duke;
Whatever record leap to light        190
He never shall be shamed.
 
VIII
Lo, the leader in these glorious wars
Now to glorious burial slowly borne,
Follow’d by the brave of other lands,
He, on whom from both her open hands        195
Lavish Honour shower’d all her stars,
And affluent Fortune emptied all her horn.
Yea, let all good things await
Him who cares not to be great,
But as he saves or serves the state.        200
Not once or twice in our rough island-story,
The path of duty was the way to glory:
He that walks it, only thirsting
For the right, and learns to deaden
Love of self, before his journey closes,        205
He shall find the stubborn thistle bursting
Into glossy purples, which outredden
All voluptuous garden-roses.
Not once or twice in our fair island-story,
The path of duty was the way to glory:        210
He, that ever following her commands,
On with toil of heart and knees and hands,
Thro’ the long gorge to the far light has won
His path upward, and prevail’d,
Shall find the toppling crags of Duty scaled        215
Are close upon the shining table-lands
To which our God Himself is moon and sun.
Such was he: his work is done.
But while the races of mankind endure,
Let his great example stand        220
Colossal, seen of every land,
And keep the soldier firm, the statesman pure:
Till in all lands and thro’ all human story
The path of duty be the way to glory:
And let the land whose hearths he saved from shame        225
For many and many an age proclaim
At civic revel and pomp and game,
And when the long-illumined cities flame,
Their ever-loyal iron leader’s fame,
With honour, honour, honour, honour to him,        230
Eternal honour to his name.
 
IX
Peace, his triumph will be sung
By some yet unmoulded tongue
Far on in summers that we shall not see:
Peace, it is a day of pain        235
For one about whose patriarchal knee
Late the little children clung:
O peace, it is a day of pain
For one, upon whose hand and heart and brain
Once the weight and fate of Europe hung.        240
Ours the pain, be his the gain!
More than is of man’s degree
Must be with us, watching here
At this, our great solemnity.
Whom we see not we revere;        245
We revere, and we refrain
From talk of battles loud and vain,
And brawling memories all too free
For such a wise humility
As befits a solemn fane:        250
We revere, and while we hear
The tides of Music’s golden sea
Setting toward eternity,
Uplifted high in heart and hope are we,
Until we doubt not that for one so true        255
There must be other nobler work to do
Than when he fought at Waterloo,
And Victor he must ever be.
For tho’ the Giant Ages heave the hill
And break the shore, and evermore        260
Make and break, and work their will;
Tho’ world on world in myriad myriads roll
Round us, each with different powers,
And other forms of life than ours,
What know we greater than the soul?        265
On God and Godlike men we build our trust.
Hush, the Dead March wails in the people’s ears:
The dark crowd moves, and there are sobs and tears:
The black earth yawns: the mortal disappears;
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust;        270
He is gone who seem’d so great.—
Gone; but nothing can bereave him
Of the force he made his own
Being here, and we believe him
Something far advanced in State,        275
And that he wears a truer crown
Than any wreath that man can weave him.
Speak no more of his renown,
Lay your earthly fancies down,
And in the vast cathedral leave him.        280
God accept him, Christ receive him.
 
 
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