Macedonia, 1903

by John Oxenham

William Arthur Dunkerley

Devils' work!
Devils' work, my masters!
_Britain, your hands are red_!
You may close your heart, but you cannot shirk
This terrible fact,--_We--kept--the--Turk_.
His day was past and we knew his work,
But he played our game, so we kept the Turk,
For our own sake's sake we kept the Turk.
_Britain, your hands are red_!
Red are the walls and the ways,
_And--Britain, your hands are red_!
There is blood on the hearth, and blood in the well,
And the whole fair land is a red, red hell,--
_Britain, your hands are red_!
"_Come over! Come over and help us_!"
We are deaf to the ancient cry.
--"_For the sake of our women and children_!"
And Britain stands quietly by.
_O Britain, your hands are red_!
_Cleanse your hands, Britain_!
Yea, cleanse them in blood if it _must_ be!
For blood that is shed in the cause of right
Has power, as of old, to wash souls white.
_Cleanse your hands, Britain_!
O for the fiery grace of old,--
The heart and the masterful hand!
But grace grows dim and the fire grows cold,
We are heavy with greed and lust and gold,
And life creeps low in the land.
_Break your bonds, Britain_!
Stand up once again for the right!
We have stained our hands in the times that are past,
Before God, we would wash them white.
_For the Nations are in the proving;
Each day is Judgment Day;
And the peoples He finds wanting
Shall pass--by the winding way_.

Last updated January 14, 2019