England Shall Stand


Reeling from the stress of battle
Bowed beneath the weight of peace
Her people sore, distressed and weary
As troubles manifold, increase;
Her long traditional leadership
Challenged by ambitious powers
England, stalwart champion of freedom
Grimly behind her ancient towers
Bathes her wounds, regroups her ranks
Prepares to hold her honoured place
At the forefront of the nations
In this troublesome year of grace.

Sceptics scream that she is finished!
That her glorious sun has set
Pointing to the staggering burden
Of war's accumulated debt
Yet rationed to the breadline limit
With privation, face to face
England gladly shares her substance
With a starving vanquished race!
Here lives her ancient greatness!
Here her impregnable will!
The spirit of a thousand years
Of England unbroken still!

For greatness in not born of numbers
Or vast productive skill and might
Of armies, or of mushroom navies
And the power of death-winged flight!
Let those who think her finished
Pause and think again
Let them look at history
Study her unbroken reign;
Go back to her beginnings
Catch that far off cry
As the charioteers of Boadicea
Dashed into Roman ranks to die
That the honour of `their' England
Forever should remain
The heritage of men unborn
And England live again!

Thus from a tiny acorn
The giant oak of England grew
A sanctuary of free men
That stood against the winds that blew
From every corner of the earth
And challenged by relentless strife
Flung forth new roots and branches
Clung tenaciously to life
Thus England with unflinching courage
Stood strong against the years
Guardians of the rights of men
Companion of their joys and fears
"Is England down ...finished"?
Let a Londoner reply,
"She's been battered , bombed and blasted
But she will never die!"
Never! The spirits of her ancient dead
Red-coated `squares' of English fame
Stand beside her as she struggles
To retain her mighty name!
Can the glory and the spirit
Of Dunkirk ever die?
What of the `few' who grimly held
The ramparts of the English sky!
Who at the bridgehead of history
Alone, though a year of hell
Could have held the modern horde
Before whom Europe fell?

The spirit of the Cockney
Joking as swift death rained down
Shouting "Blimey, can we take it!
Long live Old London town!"
Carefree `Algy' debonair and bored
Glancing up with rare disdain
Watched the `blighters' swooping grimly
Then slowly said "It's going to rain."
But took his place with Nobby Smith
Donned battledress or air force blue
`Dipped his lid' to Churchill
and went forth to `see it through!
Behind them stood the ancient shore
A job ahead to do
Within each heart the English spirit
The bulldog courage too!
Will men like these, accept
The status of a lesser power?
Tho' midnight shroud the `white cliffs',
Big Ben awaits
To sound the new day's hour!

England shall live, and rising
Phoenix-like, with strength renewed
Vouchsafe to none her heritage
The birthright of her brood!
This commonwealth of kindred souls
These far-flung branches of a mighty oak
Shall stand against the storms of time
That England live,
And men of every creed and clime
Accede to her with one consent
The age-old place of a mighty land;
But come what may ...
Tho' the old oak sway and bend
England Shall Stand!

Whakatane March 2nd 1947

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