Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SHAKESPEARE, by ROBERT UNDERWOOD JOHNSON



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SHAKESPEARE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: England, that gavest to the world so much
Last Line: Nearest himself in universal power.
Subject(s): Dramatists; England; Plays & Playwrights ; Poetry & Poets; Shakespeare, William (1564-1616); World War I; English; Dramatists; First World War


ENGLAND, that gavest to the world so much --
Full-breathing Freedom, Law's security,
The sense of Justice (though we be not just) --
What gift of thine is fellow unto this
Imperishable treasure of the mind, --
Enrichment of dim ages yet to be!
Gone is the pomp of kings save in his page,
Where by imagination's accolade
He sets the peasant in the royal rank.
Love, like a lavish fountain, here o'erflows
In the full speech of tender rhapsody.
He dreamed our dreams for us. His the one voice
Of all humanity. Or knave or saint,
He shows us kindred. Partisan of none,
Before the world's censorious judgment-seat
We find him still the advocate of each,
Portraying motive as our best defense.
Historian of the Soul in this strange star
Where Vice and Virtue interchange their masks;
Diviner of Life's inner mysteries,
He yet bereaves it not of mystery's charm,
And makes us all the wounds of Life endure
For all the balm of Beauty.
England, now,
When so much gentle has been turned to mad,
When peril threatens all we thought most safe,
When Honor crumbles, and on Reason's throne
Black Hate usurps the ermine, oh, do thou
Remember Force is still the Caliban
And Mind the Prospero. Keep the faith he taught,
Speak with his voice for Freedom, Justice, Law, --
Ay, and for Pity, lest we sink to brutes.
Shame the fierce foe with Shakespeare's noble word.
Say, England was not born to feed the maw
Of starved Oblivion. Let thine ardent youth
Kindle to flame at royal Hal's behest
And thy wise elders glow with Gaunt's farewell.
His pages are the charter of our race.
Let him but lead thy leaders, thou shalt stand
Thy Poet's England, true and free and strong:
By his ideals shalt thou conqueror be,
For God hath made of him an element,
Nearest Himself in universal power.






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