Alfred's Song

by Alfred Austin

Alfred Austin

In the Beginning when, out of darkness,
The Earth, the Heaven,
The stars, the seasons,
The mighty mainland,
And whale-ploughed water,
By God the Maker
Were formed and fashioned,
Then God made England.
He made it shapely,
With land-locked inlets,
And gray-green nesses;
With rivers roaming
From fair-leafed forests
Through windless valleys,
Past plain and pasture,
To sloping shingle:
Thus God made England.
Then like to the long-backed bounding billows,
That foam and follow
In rolling ridges,
Before and after,
To bluff and headland,
Hither there tided
The loose-limbed Briton,
The lording Roman,
And strong on his oars the sea-borne Saxon,
And now the Norsemen
Who hard with Alfred
Wrestle for England.
But onward and forward,
In far days fairer,
I see this England
Made one and mighty:
Mighty and master
Of all within it.
Mighty and master
Of men high-seated,
Of free-necked labour,
Lowland and upland,
And corn and cattle,
And ploughland peaceful,
Of happy homesteads
That warmly nestle
In holt and hollow.
This is the England,
In fair days forward,
I see and sing of.
Then, mighty and master of all within her,
Of Celt and Briton,
Angle and Frisian,
Saxon and Norseman,
Shall England plough, like the whale and walrus,
The roaring ridges
Of foam-necked water,
With long-oared warships
And keels high-beakëd;
And never a foeman,
Eastward or westward,
Shall dare to raven
Her salt-sea inlets,
Her grim gray nesses,
But, swift at the sight of her rearing cradles,
Shall scud and scatter,
Like wild geese fleeing
'Twixt wave and welkin,
Away from the dread of the shrilling weapons
Of foam-fenced England!

Last updated January 14, 2019