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Title:  A Coronation Ode
Author: Henry Lawson
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 2000751h.html
Language: English
Date first posted:  August 2020
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A Coronation Ode

by
Henry Lawson

CONTENTS

England
Cromwell
King Edward
The King
Original Document

England

Two Islands in the Northern Sea
    Lay solitary, bleak and wild—
The people there that used to be
    As simple as a savage child.
They lived and fought in savage bands,
    Left naught to praise nor to condemn,
For they knew naught of other lands,
    And other lands knew naught of them.

And thence Phoenecian sailors came,
    New lands to seek, new trade to win—
Brave traders known to ancient fame—
    And traded there for lead and tin.
They sailed again to lands they knew,
    Whence, tempted by the tales they told,
New settlers came till Britons grew
    A people, hardy, brave and bold.

They fought five hundred years with Rome,
    From Kent all round and back to Kent,
Till ruin called the Romans home,
    And so the Romans came and went.
And left small mark except in stone,
    And warlike arts, and tricks of State,
And dress and arms—but these alone
    Can never make a nation great.

And then the Saxons—and a girl
    A Prince of Britain took to wife—
The Norse and Danes, and then a whirl
    Of wrongs and sorrows, storm and strife;
But these things live in all the lands,
    And they shall never pass away—
The dawn of England as she stands
    Dates back to the Great Alfred’s day.

You’ve read the tale, O King? how she,
His mother—she, a Queen indeed—
In days of Learning’s infancy,
Would teach a son of hers to read?
The first who learned should get the prize,
Illuminated, rare to see,
And precious to their boyish eyes—
A Book of Saxon Poetry.

And Alfred learned, and many a night
    He laboured hard when he was young,
Translating by his “lanthorn’s” light,
    That he might save the Saxon tongue—
Translating by his lanthorn’s light
    When racked with pain and eyes grown dim;
And many an English word we write
    Would have been lost were’t not for him.
 
He fought nine battles with the Dane
    In that young first year of his reign;
He fought with arm and heart and brain,
    And fought and fought and fought again.
He suffered for his people’s sake,
    A hunted man, but won the right;
And though he could not bake a cake,
    King Alfred—well knew how to fight.

Peace came at last with all its joys,
    The conquered Danes by kindness school’d;
And Danish girls loved Saxon boys,
    And they the girls—and Alfred ruled.
He taught his people many things;
    He taught of other lands beside—
A man of men, a King of Kings,
    And England mourned when Alfred died.

                       *      *      *

Alfred the Great! Think well, O King!
    Now going to your throne in state!
With pride and paltriness within,
    And jealousy without your gate.
We mind the rise and fall of Rome —
    Save England from such other fate!
The past still calls the future home.
    As in his days—Alfred the Great

Down the long list of Kings we come,
    Thro’ storm and struggle, greed and pride,
Thro’ evil loud and virtue dumb,
    ’Til William lived and Harold died.
’Til Harry fought, and not for home,
    But mortal vanity, I wiz—
Not for the past, nor time to come,
    But for a crown that was not his.

Down the long line of life and death,
    Of love, and hate, and vanity,
To the great gaunt Elizabeth,
    And England’s glory on the sea.
Then literature was high in fame,
    And, to preserve the English tongue,
Immortal William Shakespeare came,
    And wrote, while yet the land was young.

Cromwell

He came in England’s direst need,
    With law and fire and sword,
He thrashed her enemies at home,
    And crushed her foes abroad;
He kept his word by sea and land,
    His Parliament he schooled,
He made the nations understand
    A Man in England ruled!

Van Tromp, with twice the English ships,
    And flushed by victory—
A great broom to his masthead bound—
    Set sail to sweep the sea.
But England’s ruler was a man
    Who needed lots of room—
So Blake soon lowered the Dutchman’s tone,
    And smashed the Dutchman’s broom.

He sent a bill to Tuscany
    For sixty thousand pounds,
For wrong done to his merchants there,
    And subjects in her bounds,
He sent by debt-collector Blake,
    And —you need not be told
That, by the Duke of Tuscany,
    That bill was paid in gold.

To pirate ports in Africa
    He sent a message grim,
To have each captured Englishman
    Delivered up to him;
And every ship and cargo’s worth,
    And every boat and gun—
And this—all this, as Dickens says—
    “Was gloriously done.”

They’d tortured English prisoners
    Who’d sailed the Spanish Main;
So Cromwell sent a little bill
    By Admiral Blake to Spain.
To keep his hand in, by the way,
    He whipped the Portuguese;
And he made it safe for English ships
    To sail the Spanish seas.

The Protestants in Southern lands
    Had long been sore oppressed;
They sent their earnest prayers to Noll
    To have their wrongs redressed.
He sent a message to the Powers,
    In which he told them flat,
All men must praise God as they chose,
    Or he would see to that.

And, when he’d hanged the fools at home
    And settled foreign rows,
He found the time to potter round
    Amongst his pigs and cows
Of private rows he never spoke,
    That grand old Ironsides.
They said a father’s strong heart broke
    When Cromwell’s daughter died
 
(They dragged his body from its grave.
    His head stuck on a pole;
They threw his wife’s and daughter’s bones
    Into a rubbish hole
To rot with those of two who’d lived
    And fought for England’s sake,
And each one in his own brave way—
    Great Pym, and Admiral Blake.)

From Charles to James the Second’s time
    Old England’s name sank low,
A sad, sad tale, but still a fact
    That even children know.
Long shameful years were passed; ah then!
    In spite of England’s boast.
But Englishmen were Englishmen,
    While Cromwell ruled the roast.

And, in my country’s hour of need—
    For it shall surely come,
While run by fools who’ll never heed
    The beating of the drum.
While baffled by the fools at home,
    And threatened from the sea—
Lord! send a man like Oliver,
    And let me live to see.

King Edward

Among the sons of Englishmen
    Full many felt like real tears,
For, though he reigned but scarcely ten
    He bore the burden many years.
He lived the dead past doubly down,
    He shamed by manliness and truth,
The lies that beat about a crown,
    And round a known man in his youth.

For he had lived as men have done
    Since Adams’ time, to prove them true.
He proved it in his manhood’s prime,
    And to the end, as strong men do.
And so he died, and, ever since,
    And on through years the words shall ring
“He lived a man, he lived a Prince,
    He died a Gentleman and King.”

Unto the friends of his hot youth,
    In his wise age, he still was true.
He showed, by steadfastness and truth,
    What Kings as well as men can do;
’Til all was manlike or forgot,
    Long years ’ere he found his release;
He made them loyal who were not,
    He won respect and kept the peace.

The King

And now a son has come again
    To keep the peace or strike the blow,
And have a long, great, glorious reign,
    Through calm or tempest, weal or woe.
And strange things set me wondering—
    As man and youth, we knew him here,
The one, the only British King,
    To see the Southern Hemisphere.

’Midst pealing bells and cannons din,
    The countless thousands cheer and strive
To catch one glance of their new King
    And queenly Mary, his fair bride;
Til on their knees, within the Fane,
    The Royal couple meekly kneel,
The Great God’s clemency to claim,
    And pray Him for their people’s weal.

And so I see, in vision clear,
    The long reign of this noble line,
How on and on, from year to year,
    The star of peace shall brighter shine,
How men and nations, without fear,
    Shall hope and labour, strive and sing:—
“The day of liberty is here!
    The King is dead! Long live the King!”

Original Document

From the State Library of New South Wales


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Back Cover

 


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