Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
January 26
By Bertram Tennyson
          General Gordon’s is one of the most striking of modern personalities. After a brilliant career in China he went to Egypt, where he was made Governor of the Equatorial Provinces and of the Soudan under the Khedive, by whom he was also made Pasha. He was besieged by the Mahdi in Khartoum and killed in the storming of the city, Jan. 26, 1885.

SON of the Brittannia’s isle,
There by the storied Nile,
The dust has claimed him ere his work was done:
But not for that alone
Has Fame’s clear trumpet blown        5
Most mournful music o’er her bravest son.
Alas! for England, when the dead
Fell by a coward’s hand her honor fled!
No English squadron broke
Through the thick battle smoke,        10
At that last hour when the hero fell;
He hoped to see again
(But ah that hope was vain)
Those English colors he had served so well;
He fell, forsaken, undismayed,        15
True to the land that thus his trust betrayed.
His was the hardest part,
That tries the staunchest heart;
Better the headlong charge when hundreds die,
Than the relentless foe        20
Watching to strike the blow,
And the slow waiting while the bullets fly—
No friends, no hope, but, like a star,
High duty shining through the clouds of war.
No stately Gothic fane        25
Roofs in the hero slain,
But the wide sky above the desert sands;
No graven stone shall tell
Where at the last he fell,
And, if interred at all, by alien hands,—        30
Thrust in a shallow grave to wait
The last loud summons to the fallen great.
No more can England boast
Her name from coast to coast
Shall be a passport to her wandering sons;        35
Once they could freely roam,
As in their Island home,
Safe far abroad as underneath her guns;
Or, should mishap for vengeance call,
Swift would her anger on the oppressor fall.        40
But let the meed of blame
Fall with its weight of shame
On those who lacked the courage to command;
The heart of England beats
In London’s thronging streets,        45
And in the quiet places of the land.
Still to its old traditions true,
In spite of all our rulers failed to do.

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