Jacobite Song

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Now who will speak, and lie not,
And pledge not life, but give?
Slaves herd with herded cattle:
The dawn grows bright for battle,
And if we die, we die not;
And if we live, we live.
The faith our fathers fought for,
The kings our fathers knew,
We fight but as they fought for:
We seek the goal they sought for,
The chance they hailed and knew,
The praise they strove and wrought for,
To leave their blood as dew
On fields that flower anew.
Men live that serve the stranger;
Hounds live that huntsmen tame:
These life-days of our living
Are days of God's good giving
Where death smiles soft on danger
And life scowls dark on shame.
And what would you do other,
Sweet wife, if you were I?
And how should you be other,
My sister, than your brother,
If you were man as I,
Born of our sire and mother,
With choice to cower and fly,
And chance to strike and die?
No churl's our oldworld name is,
The lands we leave are fair:
But fairer far than these are,
But wide as all the seas are,
But high as heaven the fame is
That if we die we share.
Our name the night may swallow,
Our lands the churl may take:
But night nor death may swallow,
Nor hell's nor heaven's dim hollow,
The star whose height we take,
The star whose light we follow
For faith's unfaltering sake
Till hope that sleeps awake.
Soft hope's light lure we serve not,
Nor follow, fain to find:
Dark time's last word may smite her
Dead, ere man's falsehood blight her,
But though she die, we swerve not,
Who cast not eye behind.
Faith speaks when hope dissembles:
Faith lives when hope lies dead:
If death as life dissembles,
And all that night assembles
Of stars at dawn lie dead,
Faint hope that smiles and trembles
May tell not well for dread:
But faith has heard it said.
Now who will fight, and fly not,
And grudge not life to give?
And who will strike beside us,
If life's or death's light guide us?
For if we live, we die not,
And if we die, we live.

Reader Comments

Tell us what you think of 'Jacobite Song' by Algernon Charles Swinburne

comments powered by Disqus

Home | Search | About this website | Contact | Privacy Policy