Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
I. Patriotism
“What constitutes a state?”
Sir William Jones (1746–1794)
 
    WHAT constitutes a state?
Not high-raised battlement or labored mound,
    Thick wall or moated gate;
Not cities proud with spires and turrets crowned;
    Not bays and broad-armed ports,        5
Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride;
    Not starred and spangled courts,
Where low-browed baseness wafts perfume to pride.
    No:—men, high-minded men,
With powers as far above dull brutes endued        10
    In forest, brake, or den,
As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude,—
    Men who their duties know,
But know their rights, and, knowing, dare maintain,
    Prevent the long-aimed blow,        15
And crush the tyrant while they rend the chain;
    These constitute a State;
And sovereign law, that State’s collected will,
    O’er thrones and globes elate
Sits empress, crowning good, repressing ill.        20
    Smit by her sacred frown,
The fiend, Dissension, like a vapor sinks;
    And e’en the all-dazzling crown
Hides his faint rays, and at her bidding shrinks.
    Such was this heaven-loved isle,        25
Than Lesbos fairer and the Cretan shore!
    No more shall freedom smile?
Shall Britons languish, and be men no more?
    Since all must life resign,
Those sweet rewards which decorate the brave        30
    ’T is folly to decline,
And steal inglorious to the silent grave.
 
 
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