Cromwell

A poem by Henry Lawson

They took dead Cromwell from his grave,
And stuck his head on high;
The Merry Monarch and his men,
They laughed as they passed by
The common people cheered and jeered,
To England’s deep disgrace,
The crowds who’d ne’er have dared to look
Live Cromwell in the face.

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 subjects there,
And merchants in her bounds.
He sent by Debt Collector Blake,
And, you need but 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 Charles, throughout the world
Old England’s name was high,
And that’s a thing no Royalist
Could ever yet deny.
Long shameful years have passed since then,
In spite of England’s boast,
But Englishmen were Englishmen,
While Cromwell carved 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.

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