Thursday, 3 September 2009
September 3rd 1939
Here is a poem for today, the 70th anniversary of our declaration of war against Germany. The English War Dorothy L. Sayers Praise God, now, for an English war – The grey tide and the sullen coast, The menace of the urgent hour, The single island, like a tower, Ringed with an angry host. This is the war that England knows, When all the world holds but one man – King Philip of the galleons, Louis, whose light outshone the sun’s, The conquering Corsican. When Europe, like a prison door, Clangs; and the swift, enfranchised sea Runs narrower than a village brook; And men who love us not, yet look To us for liberty; When no allies are left, no help To count upon from alien hands, No waverers remain to woo, No more advice to listen to, And only England stands. This is the war we always knew, When every county keeps her own, When Kent stands sentry in the lane And Fenland guards her dyke and drain, Cornwall, her cliffs of stone; When from the Cinque Ports and the Wight, From Plymouth Sound and Bristol Town, There comes a noise that breaks our sleep, Of the deep calling to the deep Where the ships go up and down. And near and far across the world Hold open wide the water-gates, And all the tall adventurers come Homeward to England, and Drake’s drum Is beaten through the Straits. This is the war that we have known And fought in every hundred years, Our sword, upon the last, steep path, Forged by the hammer of our wrath On the anvil of our fears. Send us, O God, the will and power To do as we have done before; The men that ride the sea and air Are the same men their fathers were To fight the English war. And send, O God, an English peace – Some sense, some decency, perhaps Some justice, too, if we are able, With no sly jackals round our table, Cringing for blood-stained scraps; No dangerous dreams of wishful men Whose homes are safe, who never feel The flying death that swoops and stuns, The kisses of the curtseying guns Slavering their street with steel; No dream, Lord God, but vigilance, That we may keep, by might and main, Inviolate seas, inviolate skies – But if another tyrant rise, Then we shall fight again.