Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Ave Imperatrix (Author: Oscar Wilde)
- 1] Set in this stormy Northern sea,
2] Queen of these restless fields of tide,
3] England! what shall men say of thee,
4] Before whose feet the worlds divide?
- 5] The earth, a brittle globe of glass,
6] Lies in the hollow of thy hand,
7] And through its heart of crystal pass,
8] Like shadows through a twilight land,
- 9] The spears of crimson-suited war,
10] The long white-crested waves of fight,
11] And all the deadly fires which are
12] The torches of the lords of Night.
- 13] The yellow leopards, strained and lean,
14] The treacherous Russian knows so well,
15] With gaping blackened jaws are seen
16] Leap through the hail of screaming shell.
- 17] The strong sea-lion of England's wars
18] Hath left his sapphire cave of sea,
19] To battle with the storm that mars
20] The star of England's chivalry.
- 21] The brazen-throated clarion blows
22] Across the Pathan's reedy fen,
23] And the high steeps of Indian snows
24] Shake to the tread of armèd men.
- 25] And many an Afghan chief, who lies
26] Beneath his cool pomegranate-trees,
27] Clutches his sword in fierce surmise
28] When on the mountain-side he sees
- 29] The fleet-foot Marri scout, who comes
30] To tell how he hath heard afar
31] The measured roll of English drums
32] Beat at the gates of Kandahar.
- 33] For southern wind and east wind meet
34] Where, girt and crowned by sword and fire,
35] England with bare and bloody feet
36] Climbs the steep road of wide empire.
- 37] O lonely Himalayan height,
38] Grey pillar of the Indian sky,
39] Where saw'st thou last in clanging fight
40] Our wingèd dogs of Victory?
- 41] The almond groves of Samarcand,
42] Bokhara, where red lilies blow,
43] And Oxus, by whose yellow sand
44] The grave white-turbaned merchants go:
- 45] And on from thence to Ispahan,
46] The gilded garden of the sun,
47] Whence the long dusty caravan
48] Brings cedar and vermilion;
- 49] And that dread city of Cabool
50] Set at the mountain's scarpèd feet,
51] Whose marble tanks are ever full
52] With water for the noonday heat:
- 53] Where through the narrow straight Bazaar
54] A little maid Circassian
55] Is led, a present from the Czar
56] Unto some old and bearded khan,
- 57] Here have our wild war-eagles flown,
58] And flapped wide wings in fiery fight;
59] But the sad dove, that sits alone
60] In Englandshe hath no delight.
- 61] In vain the laughing girl will lean
62] To greet her love with love-lit eyes:
63] Down in some treacherous black ravine,
64] Clutching his flag, the dead boy lies.
- 65] And many a moon and sun will see
66] The lingering wistful children wait
67] To climb upon their father's knee;
68] And in each house made desolate
- 69] Pale women who have lost their lord
70] Will kiss the relics of the slain
71] Some tarnished epaulettesome sword
72] Poor toys to soothe such anguished pain.
- 73] For not in quiet English fields
74] Are these, our brothers, lain to rest,
75] Where we might deck their broken shields
76] With all the flowers the dead love best.
- 77] For some are by the Delhi walls,
78] And many in the Afghan land,
79] And many where the Ganges falls
80] Through seven mouths of shifting sand.
- 81] And some in Russian waters lie,
82] And others in the seas which are
83] The portals to the East, or by
84] The wind-swept heights of Trafalgar.
- 85] O wandering graves! O restless sleep!
86] O silence of the sunless day!
87] O still ravine! O stormy deep!
88] Give up your prey! Give up your prey!
- 89] And thou whose wounds are never healed,
90] Whose weary race is never won,
91] O Cromwell's England! must thou yield
92] For every inch of ground a son?
- 93] Go! crown with thorns thy gold-crowned head,
94] Change thy glad song to song of pain;
95] Wind and wild wave have got thy dead,
96] And will not yield them back again.
- 97] Wave and wild wind and foreign shore
98] Possess the flower of English land
99] Lips that thy lips shall kiss no more,
100] Hands that shall never clasp thy hand.
- 101] What profit now that we have bound
102] The whole round world with nets of gold,
103] If hidden in our heart is found
104] The care that groweth never old?
- 105] What profit that our galleys ride,
106] Pine-forest-like, on every main?
107] Ruin and wreck are at our side,
108] Grim warders of the House of Pain.
- 109] Where are the brave, the strong, the fleet?
110] Where is our English chivalry?
111] Wild grasses are their burial-sheet,
112] And sobbing waves their threnody.
- 113] O loved ones lying far away,
114] What word of love can dead lips send!
115] O wasted dust! O senseless clay!
116] Is this the end! is this the end!
- 117] Peace, peace! we wrong the noble dead
118] To vex their solemn slumber so;
119] Though childless, and with thorn-crowned head,
120] Up the steep road must England go
- 121] Yet when this fiery web is spun,
122] Her watchmen shall descry from far
123] The young Republic like a sun
124] Rise from these crimson seas of war.