A Marching Song



We mix from many lands,
        We march for very far;
     In hearts and lips and hands
        Our staffs and weapons are;
The light we walk in darkens sun and moon and star.

     It doth not flame and wane
        With years and spheres that roll,
     Storm cannot shake nor stain
        The strength that makes it whole,
The fire that moulds and moves it of the sovereign soul.

     We are they that have to cope
        With time till time retire;
     We live on hopeless hope,
        We feed on tears and fire;
Time, foot by foot, gives back before our sheer desire.

     From the edge of harsh derision,
        From discord and defeat,
     From doubt and lame division,
        We pluck the fruit and eat;
And the mouth finds it bitter, and the spirit sweet.

     We strive with time at wrestling
        Till time be on our side
     And hope, our plumeless nestling,
        A full-fledged eaglet ride
Down the loud length of storm its windward wings divide.

     We are girt with our belief,
        Clothed with our will and crowned;
     Hope, fear, delight, and grief,
        Before our will give ground;
Their calls are in our ears as shadows of dead sound.

     All but the heart forsakes us,
        All fails us but the will;
     Keen treason tracks and takes us
        In pits for blood to fill;
Friend falls from friend, and faith for faith lays wait to kill.

     Out under moon and stars
        And shafts of the urgent sun
     Whose face on prison-bars
        And mountain-heads is one,
Our march is everlasting till time's march be done.

     Whither we know, and whence,
        And dare not care wherethrough.
     Desires that urge the sense,
        Fears changing old with new,
Perils and pains beset the ways we press into;

     Earth gives us thorns to tread,
        And all her thorns are trod;
     Through lands burnt black and red
        We pass with feet unshod;
Whence we would be man shall not keep us, nor man's God.

     Through the great desert beasts
        Howl at our backs by night,
     And thunder-forging priests
        Blow their dead bale-fires bright,
And on their broken anvils beat out bolts for fight.

     Inside their sacred smithies
        Though hot the hammer rings,
     Their steel links snap like withies,
        Their chains like twisted strings,
Their surest fetters are as plighted words of kings.

     O nations undivided,
        O single people and free,
     We dreamers, we derided,
        We mad blind men that see,
We bear you witness ere ye come that ye shall be.

     Ye sitting among tombs,
        Ye standing round the gate,
     Whom fire-mouthed war consumes,
        Or cold-lipped peace bids wait,
All tombs and bars shall open, every grave and grate.

     The locks shall burst in sunder,
        The hinges shrieking spin,
     When time, whose hand is thunder,
        Lays hand upon the pin,
And shoots the bolts reluctant, bidding all men in.

     These eyeless times and earless,
        Shall these not see and hear,
     And all their hearts burn fearless
        That were afrost for fear?
Is day not hard upon us, yea, not our day near?

     France! from its grey dejection
        Make manifest the red
     Tempestuous resurrection
        Of thy most sacred head!
Break thou the covering cerecloths; rise up from the dead.

     And thou, whom sea-walls sever
        From lands unwalled with seas,
     Wilt thou endure for ever,
        O Milton's England, these?
Thou that wast his Republic, wilt thou clasp their knees?

     These royalties rust-eaten,
        These worm-corroded lies,
     That keep thine head storm-beaten
        And sunlike strength of eyes
From the open heaven and air of intercepted skies;

     These princelings with gauze winglets
        That buzz in the air unfurled,
     These summer-swarming kinglets,
        These thin worms crowned and curled,
That bask and blink and warm themselves about the world;

     These fanged meridian vermin,
        Shrill gnats that crowd the dusk,
     Night-moths whose nestling ermine
        Smells foul of mould and musk,
Blind flesh-flies hatched by dark and hampered in their husk;

     These honours without honour,
        These ghost-like gods of gold,
     This earth that wears upon her
        To keep her heart from cold
No memory more o
Font size:
Collection  PDF     
 

Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 14, 2023

3:20 min read
101

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABABB CDCDD EXEFF GHGHH IJIJJ KLKLL MNMNN OGOGG PBPQQ RSRHS TUTUU AVAVV WXWXX YZYZZ F1 F1 1 MXM2 2 CRGRR F3 F3 3 G4 G4 4 A5 A5 5 1 6 G6 6 B7 F7 X
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 4,220
Words 665
Stanzas 22
Stanza Lengths 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5

Algernon Charles Swinburne

Algernon Charles Swinburne was an English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic. He wrote several novels and collections of poetry such as Poems and Ballads, and contributed to the famous Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Swinburne wrote about many taboo topics, such as lesbianism, cannibalism, sado-masochism, and anti-theism. His poems have many common motifs, such as the ocean, time, and death. Several historical people are featured in his poems, such as Sappho ("Sapphics"), Anactoria ("Anactoria"), Jesus ("Hymn to Proserpine": Galilaee, La. "Galilean") and Catullus ("To Catullus"). more…

All Algernon Charles Swinburne poems | Algernon Charles Swinburne Books

1 fan

Discuss the poem A Marching Song with the community...

0 Comments

    Translation

    Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)

    Citation

    Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:

    Style:MLAChicagoAPA

    "A Marching Song" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 25 Jun 2024. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/1246/a-marching-song>.

    Become a member!

    Join our community of poets and poetry lovers to share your work and offer feedback and encouragement to writers all over the world!

    June 2024

    Poetry Contest

    Join our monthly contest for an opportunity to win cash prizes and attain global acclaim for your talent.
    5
    days
    23
    hours
    20
    minutes

    Special Program

    Earn Rewards!

    Unlock exciting rewards such as a free mug and free contest pass by commenting on fellow members' poems today!

    Browse Poetry.com

    Quiz

    Are you a poetry master?

    »
    A haiku has ________ lines.
    A 2
    B 3
    C 4
    D 5