After Sixty Years
RING, bells! flags, fly! and let the great crowd roar
Its ecstasy. Let the hid heart in prayer
Lift up your name. God bless you evermore,
Lady, who have the noblest crown to wear
That ever woman wore.
A jewel, in the front of time, shall blaze
This day, of all your days commemorate;
With Time's white bays your brows are laureate,
And England's love shall garland all your days.
When England's crown, to Love's acclaim, was laid
On the soft brightness of a maiden's hair,
Amid delight, Love trembled, half afraid,
To give that little head such weight to bear,--
Bind on so slight a maid
A kingdom's purple--bid her hands hold high
The sceptre and the heavy orb of power,
To give to youth and beauty for a dower
Care and a crown, sorrow and sovereignty.
But from our hearts sprang an intenser flame
When loyal Love met tender Love half way,
And, in love's script, wrote on the scroll of fame,
Entwined with all the splendour of that day,
The letters of her name.
Then as fair roses grow 'mid leaves of green,
Love amid loyalty grew strong and close,
To hedge a pleasaunce round our Royal rose,
Our sovereign maiden flower, our child, our Queen.
The trumpets spake--in sonorous triumph shout,
Their speech found echo in the hundred guns;
From countless towers the answering bells rang out,
And England's heart spoke clamorous, through her sons,
The exulting land throughout.
Down streets ablaze with light the flags unfurled,
Along dark, lonely hills the joy-fires crept,
And eager swords within their scabbards leapt
To guard our Lady and Queen against the world.
Those swords are rusted now. Good men and true
Dust in the dust are laid who held her dear;
But from their grave the bright flower springs anew,
Which for her festival we bring her here,
The long years' meed and due;
The bud of homage grafted on chivalry.
God took the souls that shrined the jewel of love,
But made their sons inheritors thereof,
In endless gold entail of loyalty.
Time, compensating life, the fruit bestowed
When in spent perfume passed the flower of youth;
Her feet were set upon the upward road,
Her face was turned towards the star of truth
That in her soul abode.
With youth the maid's bright brow was garlanded
But richer crowns adorn the dear white hair;
The gathered love of all the years lies there,
In coronal benediction on her head.
She is of our blood, for hath not she, too, met
The angels of delight and of despair?
Does not she, too, remember and forget
How bitter or how bright the lost days were?
Her eyes have tears made wet;
She has seen joy unveilèd even as we,
Has laid upon cold clay the heart-warm kiss,
She has known Sorrow for the king he is;
She has held little children on her knee.
Mother, dear Mother, these your children rise
And call you blessèd, and shall we not, too,
Who are your children in the greater wise,
And love you for our land and her for you?
The blessing sanctifies
Your children as they breathe it at your knees,
And, bringing little gifts from very far,
Where the great nurseries of your Empire are,
Your children's blessings throng from over seas.
On Love's spread wings, and over leagues of space,
Homage is borne from far-off sun-steeped lands;
From many a domed mysterious Eastern place,
Where Secresy holds Time between her hands,
The children of your race
Reach English hands towards your English throne;
And from the far South turn blue English eyes,
That never saw the blue of English skies,
Yet call you Mother, and your land their own.
Where 'mid great trees the mighty waters flow
In arrogant submission to your sway,
In fur of price your northern hunters go,
And shafts of ardent greeting fly your way
Across the splendid snow;
And isles that with their coral, safe and small,
Rock in the cradle of the tropic seas,
In soft, strange speech join in the litanies
That pride and prayer breathe at your festival.
All round the world, on every far-off sea,
In wind-ploughed oceans and in sun-kissed bays,
By every busy wharf and chattering quay,
Some cantle of your Empire sails or stays--
Flaunts your supremacy
Against the winds of all the world, and flies
Your flag triumphant between blue and blue,
Blazons to sun and star the name of you,
And spreads your glory between seas and skies,
There is no cottage garden, sunny-sweet,
There is no pasture where our shepherds tend
Their quiet flocks, no red-roofed village street,
But holds for you the love-wish of a friend,
Blent with high homage meet;
No little farm among the cornfields lone,
No little cot upon the uplands bare,
But hears to-day in blessing and in prayer
One name, Victoria, and that name your own.
From the vast cities where the giant's might,
Pauseless, resistless, moves by night and day,
From hidden mines where day is one with night,
From weary lives whose days and nights are grey
And empty of delight,
From lives that rhyme to sunshine and the spring,
From happiness at flood and hope at ebb,
Rose the magnificent and mingled web
That floats, your banner, at your thanksgiving.
Throned on the surety of a splendid past,
With present glory clothed as with the sun,
Crowned with the future's hopes, you know at last
What treasure from the years your life has won;
Behold, your hands hold fast
The moon of Empire, and its sway controls
The tides of war and peace, while in those hands
Lies tender homage out of all the lands
Against whose feet your furthest ocean rolls.
How seems your life, looked back at through the years?
Much love, much sorrow, dead desires, lost dreams,
A great life lived out greatly; hidden tears,
And smiles for daily wear; strong plans and schemes,
And mighty hopes and fears;
War in the South and murder in the East,
And England's heart-throbs echoed by your heart
When loss, and labour, and sorrow were her part,
Or when Fate bade her to some flower-crowned feast.
Red battle-fields whereon your soldiers died,
Green pastoral fields saved by the blood of these,
Duty that bade mere sorrow stand aside,
And love transforming anguish into ease;
Long longing satisfied,
Great secrets wrenched from Nature's grudging breast,
The fruit of knowledge plucked for all to eat,--
These have you known, Life's circle is complete,
And, knowing these, you know what is Life's best:
The dear small secrets of our common life,
The English woods and hills, the English home,
The common joys and griefs of Mother and wife,
Joy coming, going--griefs that go and come,
Soul's peace amid world's strife;
Hours when the Queen's cares leave the woman free;
Dear friendships, where the friend forgets the Queen
And stoops to wear a dearer, homelier mien,
And be more loved than mere Queens rise to be.
And, in your hour of triumph, when you shine
The centre of our triumph's blazing star,
And, gazing down your long life's lustrous line,
Behold how great your life-long glories are,
Yet, in your heart's veiled shrine,
No splendour of all splendours that have been
Will brim your eyes with tremulous thanksgivings,
But little memories of little things--
The treasures of the woman, not the Queen.
Yet, Queen, because the love of you hath wound
A golden girdle all about the earth,
Because your name is as a trumpet sound
To call toward you men of English birth
From the world's outmost bound,
Because old kinsmen, long estranged from home,
Come, with old foes, to greet you, friend and kin,
With kindly eyes behold your guests come in,
See from afar the long procession come!
No Emperor in Rome's Imperial days
Knew ever such a triumph day as this,
Though captive kings bore chains along his ways,
Though tribute from the furthest isles was his,
With pageant and with praise.
For you--free kings and free republics grace
Your triumph, and across the conquered waves
Come gifts from friends, not tributes wrung from slaves,
And praise kneels, clothed in love, before your face.
Ring, bells! flags, fly! and let the great crowd roar
Its ecstasy! Let the hid heart in prayer
Lift up your name! God bless you evermore,
Lady, who have the noblest crown to wear
That ever monarch wore.
For, 'mid this day's triumphal voluntaries,
Your name shines like the splendour of the sun,
Because your name with England's name is one,
As Hers, thank God! is one with Liberty's.