Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
I. Patriotism
The Jacobite on Tower Hill
George Walter Thornbury (1828–1876)
 
HE tripped up the steps with a bow and a smile,
Offering snuff to the chaplain the while,
A rose at his button-hole that afternoon—
’T was the tenth of the month, and the month it was June.
 
Then shrugging his shoulders, he looked at the man        5
With the mask and the axe, and a murmuring ran
Through the crowd, who below, were all pushing to see
The gaoler kneel down, and receiving his fee.
 
He looked at the mob, as they roared, with a stare,
And took snuff again with a cynical air.        10
“I ’m happy to give but a moment’s delight
To the flower of my country agog for a sight.”
 
Then he looked at the block, and with scented cravat
Dusted room for his neck, gayly doffing his hat,
Kissed his hand to a lady, bent low to the crowd,        15
Then smiling, turned round to the headsman and bowed.
 
“God save King James!” he cried bravely and shrill,
And the cry reached the houses at foot of the hill,
“My friend with the axe, à votre service,” he said;
And ran his white thumb ’long the edge of the blade.        20
 
When the multitude hissed he stood firm as a rock;
Then kneeling, laid down his gay head on the block;
He kissed a white rose,—in a moment ’t was red
With the life of the bravest of any that bled.
 
 
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