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[Illustrated Cover: THE SONG OF THE FLAG BY ERIC MACKAY]




THE
SONG OF THE FLAG


A National Ode


_BY_

ERIC MACKAY

_Author of "Love Letters of a Violinist," "Vox Amoris," &c._


LONDON
Lamley & Co., Exhibition Road, S.W.

1893.




THE SONG OF THE FLAG.


I.

Up with the country's flag!
And let the winds caress it, fold on fold,--
A stainless flag, and glorious to behold!
It is our honour's pledge;
It is the token of a truth sublime,
A thing to die for, and to wonder at,
When, on the shuddering edge
Of some great storm, it waves its woven joy,
Which no man shall destroy,
In shine or shower, in peace or battle-time.
Up with the flag!
The winds are wild to toss it, and to brag
Of England's high renown,--
And of the throne where Chivalry has sat
Acclaimed in bower and town
For England's high renown!--
And of these happy isles where men are free
And masters of the sea,
The million-mouthëd sea,
That calls to us from shore to furthest shore--
That fought for us of yore,--
The thunder-throated, foam-frequented sea
That sounds the psalm of Victory evermore!


II.

For England's sake to-day,--
And for this flag of ours which, to the blast,
Unfurls, in proud array,
Its glittering width of splendour unsurpassed,--
For England's sake,
For our dear Sovereign's sake,--
We cry all shame on traitors, high and low,
Whose word let no man take,
Whose love let no man seek throughout the land,--
Traitors who strive, with most degenerate hand,
To bring about our country's overthrow!


III.

The sun reels up the sky, the mists are gone,
And overhead the lilting bird of dawn
Has spread, adoring-wise, as for a prayer,
Those wondrous wings of his,
Which never yet were symbols of despair!
It is the feathery foeman of the night
Who shakes adown the air
Song-scented trills and sunlit ecstasies.
Aye! 'tis the lark, the chorister in gray,
Who sings hosannas to the lord of light,
And will not stint the measure of his lay
As hour to hour, and joy to joy, succeeds;
For he's the morning-mirth of English meads,
And we who mark the moving of his wings,
We know how sweet the soil whereof he sings,--
How glad the grass, how green the summer's thrall,
How like a gracious garden the dear Land
That loves the ocean and the tossed-up sand
Whereof the wind has made a coronal;
And how, in spring and summer, at sun-rise,
The birds fling out their raptures to the skies,
And have the grace of God upon them all.


IV.

Up with the flag!
Up, up, betimes, and proudly speak of it;
A lordly thing to see on tower and crag,
O'er which,--as eagles flit,
With eyes a-fire, and wings of phantasy,--
Our memories hang superb!
The foes we frown upon shall feel the curb
Of our full sway; and they shall shaméd be
Who wrong, with sword or pen,
The Code that keeps us free.
For there's no sight, in summer or in spring,
Like our great standard-pole,
When round about it ring
The cheers of Britons, bounden, heart and soul,
To deeds of duty, dear to Englishmen;
And he who serves it has a name to see
On Victory's muster-roll;
And he who loves it not, how vile is he!
For 'tis the Land's delight,--
Our ocean-wonder, blue and red and white;
Blue as the skies, and red as roses are,
And white as foam that flashed at Trafalgŕr;
The Land's delight!
The badge and test of right,
Girt with its glory like a guiding-star!


V.

The wind has roared in English many a time,
And foes have heard it on the frothy main,
In doom and danger and in battle-pain;
And yet again may hear,
In many a sea-ward, sun-enamoured clime;
For all the hearts of traitors ache with fear
When our great ships go forth, as heretofore,
Full-arméd from the shore,--
And Boreas bounds exultant on the seas,
To bid the waves of these,--
The subject-waves of England and the Isles,--
Out-leap for miles and miles,
As loud as lions loosed on enemies!


VI.

Oh, may no mean surrender of the rights
Of our ancestral swords,
Which made our fathers pioneers and lords,
And victors in the fights,--
May no succession of the days and nights
Find us or ours at fault,
Or careless of our fame, our island-fame,
Our sea-begotten fame,--
And no true Briton halt
In his allegiance to the Victory-name
Which is the name we bow to in our thought,
Where English deeds are wrought,
In lands that love the languors of the sun,
And where the stars have sway,
And where the moon is marvelled at for hours!
The flags of nations are the ocean-flowers,
And ours the dearest, ours the brightest one,
That ever shimmered on the watery way
Which patriots call to mind
When they remember isles beyond the dawn
Where our sea-children dwell.
For there's no flag afloat upon the wind
Can wave so high, or show so fair a front,
Or gleam so proudly in the battle-brunt,
Or tell a tale of conquest half so well
As this we doat upon!


VII.

The storm is our ally, the raging sea
Is our adherent, and, to make us free,
A thousand times the full-tongued hurricane
Has bellowed forth its menace o'er the deep;
And when dissensions sleep,
When sleep the wrought-up rancours of the age
We shall again inscribe, and yet again,
On History's glowing page
The story of the flag,--
For 'twas our Nelson's flag
Which none in all the world shall put to shame,
Or vilify, or blame,--
The story of the glory of the flag
Which waved at Waterloo,
And was, from first to last, the symbol true
Of Wellington's pure fame!


VIII.

High, high the flag, for England's sake and ours,
Who know its vested powers,
And what it means, in war time, and in peace
When fierce dissensions cease,--
High, high the flag of England over all
Which nought but good befall!
High let it wave, in triumph, as a sign
Of Freedom's right divine,--
Its glorious folds out-fluttering in the gale,
Again to tell the tale
Of deeds heroic, wrought at Duty's call!
The wind's our trumpeter; and east and west,
And north and south, all day, as on a quest
Of mirth and marvel,--all the live-long day
It bears the news about
Of all we do and dare, in our degree,
And all the land's great shout,
And all the pomp and pageant of the Sea!


[Decoration]


[Printer's Device: _Printed by R. Folkard & Son, 22, Devonshire St.,
Queen Sq., London._]




JUST READY: _Author's Edition, Crown 8vo., Price 5s. nett._


LOVE LETTERS OF A VIOLINIST

By ERIC MACKAY

LONDON: LAMLEY & CO., EXHIBITION ROAD, S.W.


"'LOVE LETTERS OF A VIOLINIST.'--Letters to make the ordinary writer
envious, and to awaken in lovers thanks to the poetical pen that has
given forth utterances so suited to their good health or malady. Here a
verse to cheer the almost hopeless; a stanza to teach the refraining a
lesson in charge and capture; lines to fall in love with the memory, to
charm the darkness, and be another light to rule the day. London was
yawning behind her giant hand. The moment was propitious, and any strain
of beauty was sure of an audience. At this felicitous moment a pipe of
splendour sounded. London ceased to yawn. A violinist was communicating
the passions of his heart to those who would listen, and amid great
interest he went from house to house a-singing.... Eric Mackay is one of
those wise men who have no immature volumes to haunt them. He first
asked right of way on the road to Parnassus with a bundle of melodies
which have never lost their appeal. While youth seeks the pink cheek,
these Love Letters will command the homage of lovers. Your Petrarchs are
not as common as sparrows.... These outpourings from a burning heart
will always compel the student of our literature to weigh them, sift
them, and establish them in some very honourable position. The charm of
this early book is its freedom from drag. It moves on always. The reader
is hastened along; he has wonderful and unexpected views, which ravish
him as the abrupt magnificences of the Pyrenees ravished Gautier.
Perhaps you expect a tree, but you see a stream. Now, at last, it must
be a great green hill, and behold! you peep down into an echoless mossy
depth of glen. At the next break in the quick, up towers a height of
fancy and simile! Thus the everlasting surprise goes on enchanting. From
wild to wild, from passion to passion, from cavern to star, are we
borne, and as we travel there is music about us--music of the true tone,
ringing with all the natural pathos of lyrical carelessness. There have
been instances in literature of the music mastering the thought, but in
the case under notice the proportions are justly ministered to. There is
thought and witchery of measure. The ice of craftsmanship is mingled
with the wine of passion."--NORMAN GALE, in _The Literary World_, March
10th, 1893.

* * * * *

"We are indebted to Eric Mackay for the latest ode to the lark, one of
peculiar gracefulness and impassioned beauty. In my opinion, this is a
better production than either of Wordsworth's, superior to Hogg's, and,
though not so intellectual as Shelley's, rivals it in truth. Mackay's is
the lark itself, Shelley's is himself listening, with unwearied ears and
tightly-stretched imagination, to the lark. Who is surprised that Eric
Mackay's lyric, 'The Waking of the Lark,' sent a thrill through the
heart of America?



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