Roderic Quinn

The House of the Commonwealth

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We sent a word across the seas that said,
"The house is finished and the doors are wide,
Come, enter in.
A stately house it is, with tables spread,
Where men in liberty and love abide
With hearts akin.

"Behold, how high our hands have lifted it!
The soil it stands upon is pure and sweet
As are our skies.
Our title deeds in holy sweat are writ,
Not red accusing blood -- and 'neath our feet
No foeman lies."

And England, Mother England, leans her face
Upon her hand and feels her blood burn young
At what she sees:
The image here of that fair strength and grace
That made her feared and loved and sought and sung
Through centuries.

What chorus shall we lift, what song of joy,
What boom of seaward cannon, roll of drums?
The majesty of nationhood demands
A burst of royal sounds, as when a victor comes
From peril of a thousand foes;
An empire's honour saved from death
Brought home again; an added rose
Of victory upon its wreath.
In this wise men have greeted kings,
In name or fame,
But such acclaim
Were vain and emptiest of things
If love were silent, drawn apart,
And mute the People's mighty heart.

The love that ivy-like an ancient land doth cherish,
It grows not in a day, nor in a year doth perish.
But, little leaf by leaf,
It creeps along the walls and wreathes the ramparts hoary.
The sun that gives it strength -- it is a nation's glory;
The dew, a people's grief.

The love that ivy-like around a home-land lingers,
With soft embrace of breast and green, caressive fingers,
We are too young to know.
Not ours the glory-dome, the monuments and arches
At thought of which takes arms the blood, and proudly marches
Exultant o'er the foe.

Green lands undesolated
For no avengement cry;
No feud of race unsated
Leaps out again to triumph,
Leaps out again to triumph, or to die!

Attendant here to-day in heart and mind
Must be all lovers of mankind,
Attendant, too, the souls sublime --
The Prophet-souls of every clime,
Who, living, in a tyrant's time,
Yet thought and wrought and sought to break
The chains about mankind and make
A man where men had made a slave:
Who all intent to lift and save
Beheld the flag of Freedom wave
And scorned the prison or the grave;
For whom the darkness failed to mar
The vision of a world afar,
The shining of the Morning Star.
Attendant here, then, they must be,
And gathering close with eyes elate
Behold the vision of a State
Where men are equal, just, and free:
A State that hath no stain upon her,
No taint to hurt her maiden honour;
A Home where love and kindness centre;
A People's House where all may enter.
And, being entered, meet no dearth
Of welcome round a common hearth;
A People's House not built of stone,
Nor wrought by hand and brain alone,
But formed and founded on the heart;
A People's House, A People's Home,
En-isled in foam and far apart;
A People's House, where all may roam
The many rooms and be at ease;
A People's House, with tower and dome;
And over all a People's Flag --
A Flag upon the breeze.

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Roderic Quinn