On the offer of help from the Australians after the fall of Khartoum.
Sons of the giant Ocean isle
In sport our friendly foes for long,
Well England loves you, and we smile
When you outmatch us many a while,
So fleet you are, so keen and strong.
You, like that fairy people set
Of old in their enchanted sea
Far off from men, might well forget
An elder nation’s toil and fret,
Might heed not aught but game and glee.
But what your fathers were you are
In lands the fathers never knew,
’Neath skies of alien sign and star
You rally to the English war;
Your hearts are English, kind and true.
And now, when first on England falls
The shadow of a darkening fate,
You hear the Mother ere she calls,
You leave your ocean-girdled walls,
And face her foemen in the gate.
Thou that on every field of earth and sky
Didst hunt for Death, who seemed to flee and fear,
How great and greatly fallen dost thou lie
Slain in the Desert by some wandering spear:
‘Not here, alas!’ may England say, ’not here
Nor in this quarrel was it meet to die,
But in that dreadful battle drawing nigh
To thunder through the Afghan passes sheer:
Like Aias by the ships shouldst thou have stood,
And in some glen have stayed the stream of flight,
The bulwark of thy people and their shield,
When Indus or when Helmund ran with blood,
Till back into the Northland and the Night
The smitten Eagles scattered from the field.’
(The place of the little hand.)
Dead, with their eyes to the foe,
Dead, with the foe at their feet,
Under the sky laid low
Truly their slumber is sweet,
Though the wind from the Camp of the Slain Men blow,
And the rain on the wilderness beat.
Dead, for they chose to die
When that wild race was run;
Dead, for they would not fly,
Deeming their work undone,
Nor cared to look on the face of the sky,
Nor loved the light of the sun.
Honour we give them and tears,
And the flag they died to save,
Rent from the rain of the spears,
Wet from the war and the wave,
Shall waft men’s thoughts through the dust of the years,
Back to their lonely grave!
TO RHODOCLEIA—ON HER MELANCHOLY SINGING.
(Rhodocleia was beloved by Rufinus, one of the late
poets of the Greek
Still, Rhodocleia, brooding on the dead,
Still singing of the meads of asphodel,
Lands desolate of delight?
Say, hast thou dreamed of, or remembered,
The shores where shadows dwell,
Nor know the sun, nor see the stars of night?