Elgar: The Spirit of England

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The text for Elgar's The Spirit of England

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1. The Fourth Of August (Laurence Binyon)

Now in thy splendour go before us,

Spirit of England, ardent eyed,

Enkindle this dear earth that bore us,

In the hour of peril purified

 

The cares we hugged drop out of vision,

Our hears with deeper thoughts dilate.

We step from days of sour division

Into the grandeur of our fate.

 

For us the glorious dead have striven,

They battled that we might be free.

We to their living cause are given;

We arm for men that are to be.

 

Among the nations nobliest chartered,

England recalls her heritage,

In her is that which is not bartered,

Which force can neither quell nor cage.

 

For her immortal stars are burning;

With her, the hope that's never done,

The seed that's in the Spring's returning,

The very flower that seeks the sun.

 

She fights the fraud that feeds desire on

Lies, in lust to enslave or kill,

The barren creed of blood and iron,

Vampire of Europe's wasted will....

 

Endure, O Earth! and thou, awaken,

Purged by this dreadful winnowing-fan,

O wronged, untameable, unshaken

Soul of divinely suffering man.

 

 

2. To Women (Laurence Binyon)

Your hearts are lifted up, your hearts

That have foreknown the utter price.

Your hearts burn upward like a flame

Of splendour and of sacrifice.

 

For you, you too, to battle go,

Not with the marching drums and cheers

But in the watch of solitude

And through the boundless night of fears.

 

Swift, swifter than those hawks of war,

Those threatening wings that pulse the air,

Far as the vanward ranks are set,

You are gone before them, you are there!

 

And not a shot comes blind with death,

And not a stab of steel is pressed

Home, but invisibly it tore

And entered first a woman's breast.

 

Amid the thunder of the guns,

The lightning's of the lance and sword,

Your hope, your dread, your throbbing pride.

Your infinite passion is outpoured.

 

From hearts that are as one high heart,

Withholding naught from doom and bale

Burningly offered up, - to bleed,

To bear, to break, but not to fail!

 

 

3. For The Fallen (Laurence Binyon)

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,

England mourns for her dead across the sea.

Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,

Fallen in the cause of the free.

 

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal

Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.

There is music in the midst of desolation

And a glory that shines upon our tears.

 

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,

Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,

They fell with their faces to the foe.

 

They fought, they were terrible, nought could tame them,

Hunger, nor legions, nor shattering cannonade.

They laughed, they sang their melodies of England,

They fell open-eyed and unafraid.

 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

 

They mingle not with laughing comrades again;

They sit no more at familiar tables of home;

They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;

They sleep beyond England's foam.

 

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,

Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,

To the innermost heart of their own land they are known

As the stars are known to the Night;

 

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,

Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,

As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,

To the end, to the end, they remain.