The First of June

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Peace and war are one in proof of England's deathless praise.
One divine day saw her foemen scattered on the sea
Far and fast as storm could speed: the same strong day of days
Sees the imperial commonweal set friends and foemen free.
Save where freedom reigns, whose name is England, fraud and fear
Grind and blind the face of men who look on her and lie:
Now may truth and pride in truth, whose seat of old was here,
See them shamed and stricken blind and dumb as worms that die.
Even before our hallowed hawthorn-blossom pass and cease,
Even as England shines and smiles at last upon the sun,
[Pg 394]Comes the word that means for England more than passing peace,
Peace with honour, peace with pride in righteous work well done.
Crowned with flowers the first of all the world and all the year,
Peace, whose name is one with honour born of war, is here.

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