Clear The Way!

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Clear the way, my lords and lackeys! you have had your day.
Here you have your answer—England’s yea against your nay:
Long enough your house has held you: up, and clear the way!
Lust and falsehood, craft and traffic, precedent and gold,
Tongue of courtier, kiss of harlot, promise bought and sold,
Gave you heritage of empire over thralls of old.
Now that all these things are rotten, all their gold is rust,
Quenched the pride they lived by, dead the faith and cold the lust,
Shall their heritage not also turn again to dust?
By the grace of these they reigned, who left their sons their sway:
By the grace of these, what England says her lords unsay:
Till at last her cry go forth against them—Clear the way!
By the grace of trust in treason knaves have lived and lied:
By the force of fear and folly fools have fed their pride:
By the strength of sloth and custom reason stands defied.
Lest perchance your reckoning on some latter day be worse,
Halt and hearken, lords of land and princes of the purse,
Ere the tide be full that comes with blessing and with curse.
Where we stand; as where you sit, scarce falls a sprinkling spray;
But the wind that swells, the wave that follows, none shall stay:
Spread no more of sail for shipwreck: out, and clear the way!

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