Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TO BRITANNIA, a poem

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On seeing a picture of the cairn and cross under which lie Captain Scott and his men
BRITANNIA, they who perished here have crowned thee—
     Have proved the dauntless temper of thy soul;
Great memories of the past, through them have found thee
     Intrepid as of old, untouched and whole.

Triumphant Mother! Make an end to sighing
     For these, thrice happy!—with sonorous breath
Let bugles sing their requiem who are lying
     In all the full magnificence of death!

They knew not failure: dream and aspiration
     They knew, indeed, and love, and noble joy;
And at the last faith brought them the elation
     That Destiny is powerless to destroy.

The utmost summit of desire attaining,
     What further is there left deserving strife?
Ah, there is still the peerless hope remaining,—
     In death to prove one's worthiness of life!

Sublime thy grief, Britannia! sons have crowned thee—
     With hard-won laurels have enwreathed thy name:
Have shown the world the bulwark set around thee,
     Adding new consecration to thy fame.

Nor have they blessed thee, only: Fate defying,
     Others in lands remote shall fear contemn,
And find it easier, themselves denying,
     To die like heroes, too,—remembering them.

They do not lie in lonely graves forsaken,
     Who for high ends can so supremely dare;
From human hearts they can no more be taken,
     And Immortality is with them there.
"To Britannia" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume I and as "In Remembrance: The Antarctic Heroes of 1912" in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (July 1913).

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