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After Sixty Years

Edith Nesbit 1858 (Kennington, Surrey ) – 1924 (New Romney, Kent)



RING, bells! flags, fly! and let the great crowd roar
Its ecstasy. Let the hid heart in prayer
Lift up your name. God bless you evermore,
Lady, who have the noblest crown to wear
That ever woman wore.
A jewel, in the front of time, shall blaze
This day, of all your days commemorate;
With Time's white bays your brows are laureate,
And England's love shall garland all your days.

When England's crown, to Love's acclaim, was laid
On the soft brightness of a maiden's hair,
Amid delight, Love trembled, half afraid,
To give that little head such weight to bear,--
Bind on so slight a maid
A kingdom's purple--bid her hands hold high
The sceptre and the heavy orb of power,
To give to youth and beauty for a dower
Care and a crown, sorrow and sovereignty.

But from our hearts sprang an intenser flame
When loyal Love met tender Love half way,
And, in love's script, wrote on the scroll of fame,
Entwined with all the splendour of that day,
The letters of her name.
Then as fair roses grow 'mid leaves of green,
Love amid loyalty grew strong and close,
To hedge a pleasaunce round our Royal rose,
Our sovereign maiden flower, our child, our Queen.

The trumpets spake--in sonorous triumph shout,
Their speech found echo in the hundred guns;
From countless towers the answering bells rang out,
And England's heart spoke clamorous, through her sons,
The exulting land throughout.
Down streets ablaze with light the flags unfurled,
Along dark, lonely hills the joy-fires crept,
And eager swords within their scabbards leapt
To guard our Lady and Queen against the world.

Those swords are rusted now. Good men and true
Dust in the dust are laid who held her dear;
But from their grave the bright flower springs anew,
Which for her festival we bring her here,
The long years' meed and due;
The bud of homage grafted on chivalry.
God took the souls that shrined the jewel of love,
But made their sons inheritors thereof,
In endless gold entail of loyalty.

Time, compensating life, the fruit bestowed
When in spent perfume passed the flower of youth;
Her feet were set upon the upward road,
Her face was turned towards the star of truth
That in her soul abode.
With youth the maid's bright brow was garlanded
But richer crowns adorn the dear white hair;
The gathered love of all the years lies there,
In coronal benediction on her head.

She is of our blood, for hath not she, too, met
The angels of delight and of despair?
Does not she, too, remember and forget
How bitter or how bright the lost days were?
Her eyes have tears made wet;
She has seen joy unveilèd even as we,
Has laid upon cold clay the heart-warm kiss,
She has known Sorrow for the king he is;
She has held little children on her knee.

Mother, dear Mother, these your children rise
And call you blessèd, and shall we not, too,
Who are your children in the greater wise,
And love you for our land and her for you?
The blessing sanctifies
Your children as they breathe it at your knees,
And, bringing little gifts from very far,
Where the great nurseries of your Empire are,
Your children's blessings throng from over seas.

On Love's spread wings, and over leagues of space,
Homage is borne from far-off sun-steeped lands;
From many a domed mysterious Eastern place,
Where Secresy holds Time between her hands,
The children of your race
Reach English hands towards your English throne;
And from the far South turn blue English eyes,
That never saw the blue of English skies,
Yet call you Mother, and your land their own.

Where 'mid great trees the mighty waters flow
In arrogant submission to your sway,
In fur of price your northern hunters go,
And shafts of ardent greeting fly your way
Across the splendid snow;
And isles that with their coral, safe and small,
Rock in the cradle of the tropic seas,
In soft, strange speech join in the litanies
That pride and prayer breathe at your festival.

All round the world, on every far-off sea,
In wind-ploughed oceans and in sun-kissed bays,
By every busy wharf and chattering quay,
Some cantle of your Empire sails or stays--
Flaunts your supremacy
Against the winds of all the world, and flies
Your flag triumphant between blue and blue,
Blazons to sun and star the name of you,
And spreads your glory between seas and skies,

There is no cottage garden, sunny-sweet,
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:52 min read
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Edith Nesbit

Edith Nesbit (married name Edith Bland) was an English author and poet; she published her books for children under the name of E. Nesbit. She wrote or collaborated on more than 60 books of children's literature. She was also a political activist and co-founded the Fabian Society, a socialist organisation later affiliated to the Labour Party. more…

All Edith Nesbit poems | Edith Nesbit Books

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