Cromwell's Statue1

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

What needs our Cromwell stone or bronze to say
His was the light that lit on England's way
The sundawn of her time-compelling power,
The noontide of her most imperial day?
His hand won back the sea for England's dower;
His footfall bade the Moor change heart and cower;
His word on Milton's tongue spake law to France
When Piedmont felt the she-wolf Rome devour.
From Cromwell's eyes the light of England's glance
Flashed, and bowed down the kings by grace of chance,
The priest-anointed princes; one alone
By grace of England held their hosts in trance.
The enthroned Republic from her kinglier throne
Spake, and her speech was Cromwell's. Earth has known
No lordlier presence. How should Cromwell stand
With kinglets and with queenlings hewn in stone?
Incarnate England in his warrior hand
Smote, and as fire devours the blackening brand
Made ashes of their strengths who wrought her wrong,
And turned the strongholds of her foes to sand.
His praise is in the sea's and Milton's song;
What praise could reach him from the weakling throng
That rules by leave of tongues whose praise is shame
Him, who made England out of weakness strong?
There needs no clarion's blast of broad-blown fame
To bid the world bear witness whence he came
Who bade fierce Europe fawn at England's heel
And purged the plague of lineal rule with flame.
There needs no witness graven on stone or steel
For one whose work bids fame bow down and kneel;
Our man of men, whose time-commanding name
Speaks England, and proclaims her Commonweal.

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