LANCASHIRE IN 1862.
There are victories other than those of tented fields,
And heroic lives away from the roll of drums
And clang of steel. God’s heroes are not dock’d
With flowing plumes, but live in peace, like violets,
Hidden in modesty, and must be sought for;
For garish flowers flaunt their heads above them.
Men’s holiest deeds have had no witnesses;
History has leaves for war, and tears, and blood,
But none for inward, honest, god-like struggles
In the hearts of those who live all quietly
Fame’s steps are daubed with slime from robber’s heels
But at her doors sit, careless of an entrance,
The brave workers whose lives have been all noble,
And in whose hearts white wing’d angels vested.
Such are the men ‘gainst whom pinching want and cold
Marshalled all their forces for a deadly struggle;
The men who shielding dear old wife and may-be darling child,
By fireless hearths, and tables bare, have thanked God
They knew their duty, then calmly bowed their heads.
Their duty was to suffer, and yet stand still,
And though at times this calmness is harder task
Than that of facing deadly throat of cannon
Belching swift death, or e’en the fiery sweep
Of thirsty swords, is there one shall ever say
They have not done it, and done it right nobly?
In time, the gold-stricken world will know its men,
And Fame shall keep her laurels for their foreheads,
Deck’d e’en now with crowns although by us [unseen] ,
None the less bright or glorious because, world-blind,
We cannot perceive the heavenly dower.
Matters it if ragged cap and ragged coat
Be the king’s only garments, so that in his heart
Flows triumphant royal blood. The day shall come
When robes and rags will be no longer standards,
For ‘tis by the soul, and by the soul alone
Man shall be judged.
Then men shall know their true kings, and bow to them,
And Lancashire! these true kings in rags are thine
Be proud this wintry day of thine inheritance.
Such men would keep old England afloat, e’en were
Her helm in the hand of traitors.
And dear, dear Motherland, have thou no fear
While souls are living such heroic daily lives.
In thy famine-struck workless northern streets,
So lately throng with hurrying bands of men
And all the signs of happy peace and daily toil;
And when God – to whom these gallant heroes say,
With bated breath, “Thy will be done!” shall mission
His dove with olive branch, do not thou forget
The lesson of these hard times; the English story
Of such endurances, patience, and cheerful trust
That led Rome in all her annals proud, has bought
More glorious or brightly beautiful!