Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
I. Patriotism
Rule, Britannia
James Thomson (1700–1748)
From “Alfred,” Act II. Sc. 5.

WHEN Britain first, at Heaven’s command,
  Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
  And guardian angels sung the strain:
      Rule, Britannia, rule the waves!        5
      For Britons never will be slaves.
The nations not so blest as thee
  Must in their turns to tyrants fall;
Whilst thou shalt flourish, great and free,
  The dread and envy of them all.
        Rule, Britannia! etc.
Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
  More dreadful from each foreign stroke;
As the loud blasts that tear the skies
  Serve but to root thy native oak.
        Rule, Britannia! etc.
Thee haughty tyrants ne’er shall tame;        15
  All their attempts to bend thee down
Will but arouse thy generous flame,
  And work their woe—but thy renown.
        Rule, Britannia! etc.
To thee belongs the rural reign;
  Thy cities shall with commerce shine;        20
All thine shall be the subject main,
  And every shore it circles thine.
        Rule, Britannia! etc.
The Muses, still with Freedom found,
  Shall to thy happy coast repair;
Blest Isle! with matchless beauty crowned,        25
  And manly hearts to guard the fair.
      Rule, Britannia, rule the leaves!
      For Britons never will be slaves.

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