Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SOUL OF BRITAIN, by HENRY CHAPPELL



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THE SOUL OF BRITAIN, by            
First Line: Thro' the dark of the night we have trodden
Last Line: Must sink again to the prison, of party and place and creed.
Subject(s): Death; Great Britain - Civil War; Heaven; Peace; Soul; Dead, The; English Civil War; Paradise


THRO' the dark of the night we have trodden, thro' the grey of the dawn we must

tread,
In ways by a dread dew sodden and by waters that glimmer red;
For the sake of the pledge we have given and the stress of the primal laws,
O'er the wreck of a world that is riven, for the sake of a Soul and a Cause.

For the cause that has called us and found us, for the soul that, seeing the
light,
Rent the shibboleth chains that bound us and cast them into the night;
Magnificent, stern, self-relying, the soul of our island home
Has fired with a flame undying our knights of the field and foam.

Inspired them, as, pent in their burrows, like tigers in leash they pined
(Whilst the guns ploughed fearful furrows, or the gas came down on the wind)

For the call to the charge and the plunging, the tingle and leap of the blood,
And the debt wiped out by the lunging, as the steel bites home with a thud.

Upheld them when fiery scourges drove rife as the wintry sleet,
And lashed into foam the surges, as the path of the hurricane's feet;
Midst the shock and the splint'ring and rending, and the wailing and blasts of
shell.
Whilst the sea and the sky seemed blending in the sulphurous reek of hell.

We'll uphold till our conquering legions have whelmed o'er the pagan blight,
As the sands of the desert regions are grip't in the whirlwind's might;
Or as leaves of the autumn scattered, and sprent with her hectic red,
Strew them broken and shattered, living, dying and dead.

Then the bells will rock in their steeples, and the guns as tho' loth to cease
Will roar with the joy of our peoples, and salvo a welcome to Peace;
To Peace—stay, what brings she as guerdon, will the tongue betray the
blade?
And Yoke us again to the burden? The past speaks, and I am afraid.

Unready we fronted the thunders, unready we bent to the blast;
Have we learned yet some wisdom from blunders, are the days of our blindness
past?
Will the new world war's hammer has founded, and the new power forged in pain,
Be twisted and whittled and bounded by the babble of fools again?

Hard yet is the road we must travel, and many the blows and sore,
There are tangled skeins to unravel in the days that be before;
And the deeds of those days must impeach us, either the more or the less,
In the measure past failures teach us what we never learned from success.

Beware, you whose fingers would palter; beware, you whose tongues would betray
The scales of stark justice, or alter one hair's weight their passionless sway;
Or the soul that has wakened and risen, supreme in our direst need,
Must sink again to the prison, of party and place and creed.





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