Old England for ever!
No power shall sever
My heart from the land of my birth;
‘Tis the land of the brave,
Which none can enslave,
‘Tis the happiest land upon earth!
‘Tis the land of the free ---
So it ever shall be,
Her children no fetters shall bind,
Ere britons are slaves,
She shall sink in the waves,
And leave not a vestage behind.
If the African stand
But once on our strand,
That moment his shackles are broke;
A captive no more,
He leaps on our shore,
And shakes from his shoulders the yoke.
‘Tis the land of the brave
And the patriot’s grave;
And heroes and sages of old. ---
We hallow their dust,
And esteem it a trust
More precious than jewels and gold.
‘Tis the land of the fair,
And the beauty is there,
And the gladness that Woman bestows;
Where the circle is bright
With the heart-cheering light
From the eye of affection that flows.
‘Tis the land of the wise,
With the glorious prize
Of Genius her temples are bound,
And she beams from afar,
Like a bright morning star,
To give light to the nations around.
Hail! land of my birth!
Brightest spot upon earth!
Shall I leave thee for others? No never!
Where’er I may roam,
Still thou art my home,
Old England, my country, for ever!

Title:The Land of My Birth

Author:The Rev. Dr. Raffles

Publication:Accrington Guardian

Published in:Accrington

Date:December 21st, 1861

Keywords:gender, nationalism, slavery


Primarily a congregational minister and historian, this passionately patriotic poem exhibits the Reverend Dr. Raffles’ devotion to his country and his pride to have been born on English soil. With its regular metre and syllable lengths, the poem is, naturally given the subject matter, an ode to the traditionally Georgian-English poem. The poem’s rhyme scheme operates in an AABCCB form – that is, following the pattern of two rhyming couplets with a mirroring rhyme falling every third line. Its regularity suggests an almost vow-like tone in the poem, the poet’s promise to remain on English ground forever. Presented as a single stanza, the 42-line poem employs a trochaic metric foot and makes use of archaic language. Contractions such as ‘tis’ and ‘where’er trigger a sense of dignity and gravitas, which when coupled with ardent and fervent language, elicits a pseudo-love poem dedicated to this English nation that the Reverend is so deeply proud of. Words such as ‘sages; heroes; jewels; and gold’ drive the point of patriotic reverence thoroughly to the reader, which when combined with an abundance of exclamation marks, produces almost a preaching quality, and thus mimics Raffles’ experience as a congregational minister. The poem appears to place itself strangely within the confines of the time period – given its context in the Cotton Famine, one can assume that the poem was written for an audience that was in dire need of a hopeful reminder of England’s redeeming factors. Particularly noticeable is the Reverend’s attention to slavery: though slavery in Britain had been abolished in 1833, several decades prior to the famine, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was only introduced in 1863, and given the proposition of Britain as a land of freedom for the enslaved, we can seemingly suggest that this poem was written prior to 1863. Catherine Blanchard, University of Exeter