The Song of the Flag - A National Ode
by Eric Mackay
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A National Ode



Author of "Love Letters of a Violinist," "Vox Amoris," &c.

LONDON Lamley & Co., Exhibition Road, S.W.




Up with the country's flag! And let the winds caress it, fold on fold,— A stainless flag, and glorious to behold! It is our honour's pledge; It is the token of a truth sublime, A thing to die for, and to wonder at, When, on the shuddering edge Of some great storm, it waves its woven joy, Which no man shall destroy, In shine or shower, in peace or battle-time. Up with the flag! The winds are wild to toss it, and to brag Of England's high renown,— And of the throne where Chivalry has sat Acclaimed in bower and town For England's high renown!— And of these happy isles where men are free And masters of the sea, The million-mouthed sea, That calls to us from shore to furthest shore— That fought for us of yore,— The thunder-throated, foam-frequented sea That sounds the psalm of Victory evermore!


For England's sake to-day,— And for this flag of ours which, to the blast, Unfurls, in proud array, Its glittering width of splendour unsurpassed,— For England's sake, For our dear Sovereign's sake,— We cry all shame on traitors, high and low, Whose word let no man take, Whose love let no man seek throughout the land,— Traitors who strive, with most degenerate hand, To bring about our country's overthrow!


The sun reels up the sky, the mists are gone, And overhead the lilting bird of dawn Has spread, adoring-wise, as for a prayer, Those wondrous wings of his, Which never yet were symbols of despair! It is the feathery foeman of the night Who shakes adown the air Song-scented trills and sunlit ecstasies. Aye! 'tis the lark, the chorister in gray, Who sings hosannas to the lord of light, And will not stint the measure of his lay As hour to hour, and joy to joy, succeeds; For he's the morning-mirth of English meads, And we who mark the moving of his wings, We know how sweet the soil whereof he sings,— How glad the grass, how green the summer's thrall, How like a gracious garden the dear Land That loves the ocean and the tossed-up sand Whereof the wind has made a coronal; And how, in spring and summer, at sun-rise, The birds fling out their raptures to the skies, And have the grace of God upon them all.


Up with the flag! Up, up, betimes, and proudly speak of it; A lordly thing to see on tower and crag, O'er which,—as eagles flit, With eyes a-fire, and wings of phantasy,— Our memories hang superb! The foes we frown upon shall feel the curb Of our full sway; and they shall shamed be Who wrong, with sword or pen, The Code that keeps us free. For there's no sight, in summer or in spring, Like our great standard-pole, When round about it ring The cheers of Britons, bounden, heart and soul, To deeds of duty, dear to Englishmen; And he who serves it has a name to see On Victory's muster-roll; And he who loves it not, how vile is he! For 'tis the Land's delight,— Our ocean-wonder, blue and red and white; Blue as the skies, and red as roses are, And white as foam that flashed at Trafalgar; The Land's delight! The badge and test of right, Girt with its glory like a guiding-star!


The wind has roared in English many a time, And foes have heard it on the frothy main, In doom and danger and in battle-pain; And yet again may hear, In many a sea-ward, sun-enamoured clime; For all the hearts of traitors ache with fear When our great ships go forth, as heretofore, Full-armed from the shore,— And Boreas bounds exultant on the seas, To bid the waves of these,— The subject-waves of England and the Isles,— Out-leap for miles and miles, As loud as lions loosed on enemies!


Oh, may no mean surrender of the rights Of our ancestral swords, Which made our fathers pioneers and lords, And victors in the fights,— May no succession of the days and nights Find us or ours at fault, Or careless of our fame, our island-fame, Our sea-begotten fame,— And no true Briton halt In his allegiance to the Victory-name Which is the name we bow to in our thought, Where English deeds are wrought, In lands that love the languors of the sun, And where the stars have sway, And where the moon is marvelled at for hours! The flags of nations are the ocean-flowers, And ours the dearest, ours the brightest one, That ever shimmered on the watery way Which patriots call to mind When they remember isles beyond the dawn Where our sea-children dwell. For there's no flag afloat upon the wind Can wave so high, or show so fair a front, Or gleam so proudly in the battle-brunt, Or tell a tale of conquest half so well As this we doat upon!


The storm is our ally, the raging sea Is our adherent, and, to make us free, A thousand times the full-tongued hurricane Has bellowed forth its menace o'er the deep; And when dissensions sleep, When sleep the wrought-up rancours of the age We shall again inscribe, and yet again, On History's glowing page The story of the flag,— For 'twas our Nelson's flag Which none in all the world shall put to shame, Or vilify, or blame,— The story of the glory of the flag Which waved at Waterloo, And was, from first to last, the symbol true Of Wellington's pure fame!


High, high the flag, for England's sake and ours, Who know its vested powers, And what it means, in war time, and in peace When fierce dissensions cease,— High, high the flag of England over all Which nought but good befall! High let it wave, in triumph, as a sign Of Freedom's right divine,— Its glorious folds out-fluttering in the gale, Again to tell the tale Of deeds heroic, wrought at Duty's call! The wind's our trumpeter; and east and west, And north and south, all day, as on a quest Of mirth and marvel,—all the live-long day It bears the news about Of all we do and dare, in our degree, And all the land's great shout, And all the pomp and pageant of the Sea!


[Printer's Device: Printed by R. Folkard & Son, 22, Devonshire St., Queen Sq., London.]

JUST READY: Author's Edition, Crown 8vo., Price 5s. nett.




"'LOVE LETTERS OF A VIOLINIST.'—Letters to make the ordinary writer envious, and to awaken in lovers thanks to the poetical pen that has given forth utterances so suited to their good health or malady. Here a verse to cheer the almost hopeless; a stanza to teach the refraining a lesson in charge and capture; lines to fall in love with the memory, to charm the darkness, and be another light to rule the day. London was yawning behind her giant hand. The moment was propitious, and any strain of beauty was sure of an audience. At this felicitous moment a pipe of splendour sounded. London ceased to yawn. A violinist was communicating the passions of his heart to those who would listen, and amid great interest he went from house to house a-singing.... Eric Mackay is one of those wise men who have no immature volumes to haunt them. He first asked right of way on the road to Parnassus with a bundle of melodies which have never lost their appeal. While youth seeks the pink cheek, these Love Letters will command the homage of lovers. Your Petrarchs are not as common as sparrows.... These outpourings from a burning heart will always compel the student of our literature to weigh them, sift them, and establish them in some very honourable position. The charm of this early book is its freedom from drag. It moves on always. The reader is hastened along; he has wonderful and unexpected views, which ravish him as the abrupt magnificences of the Pyrenees ravished Gautier. Perhaps you expect a tree, but you see a stream. Now, at last, it must be a great green hill, and behold! you peep down into an echoless mossy depth of glen. At the next break in the quick, up towers a height of fancy and simile! Thus the everlasting surprise goes on enchanting. From wild to wild, from passion to passion, from cavern to star, are we borne, and as we travel there is music about us—music of the true tone, ringing with all the natural pathos of lyrical carelessness. There have been instances in literature of the music mastering the thought, but in the case under notice the proportions are justly ministered to. There is thought and witchery of measure. The ice of craftsmanship is mingled with the wine of passion."—NORMAN GALE, in The Literary World, March 10th, 1893.

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"We are indebted to Eric Mackay for the latest ode to the lark, one of peculiar gracefulness and impassioned beauty. In my opinion, this is a better production than either of Wordsworth's, superior to Hogg's, and, though not so intellectual as Shelley's, rivals it in truth. Mackay's is the lark itself, Shelley's is himself listening, with unwearied ears and tightly-stretched imagination, to the lark. Who is surprised that Eric Mackay's lyric, 'The Waking of the Lark,' sent a thrill through the heart of America? This poem, which appeared in the New York Independent, is undoubtedly the lark-poem of the future. From the opening to the closing stanza there is not an imperfect verse, not a commonplace. The sentiment is pure, and the fancy glowing. It is, indeed, an exquisite ode."—Wintringham's "Birds of Wordsworth." Edition, 1892.

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"He (the lecturer) ventured to call the author of the 'Love Letters' a new poet. His published volume is a work of immense promise. His fancy is splendid.... The 'Love Letters' are twelve poems, separate, and yet intrinsically one. It is a compound lyric, with an epic theme and somewhat of an epic cast. The theme is the triumph of woman's love. It is the story of love's redemption. It has something of the tone, colour, and luxuriance of Solomon's Song; both, too, have the same theme, though treated in a different way.... The form is charming—as if the sonatas of Beethoven had been translated into poetry! The denouement is reached when Beethoven himself—

'The giant-singer who did storm the gates Of Heaven and Hell'—

is introduced in a vision. The lecturer gave a number of quotations to illustrate his points."—Lecture on ERIC MACKAY, by the Rev. Elvet Lewis, at the Hull Literary Institute.

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"The 'Love Letters' of Eric Mackay are the handiwork of a brilliant metrical artist and poet born.... A beautiful and passionate work; its beauty that of construction, language, imagery,—its passion, characteristic of the artistic nature, and, while intensely human, free from any taint of vulgar coarseness.... The poem is quite original, its manner Elizabethan.... Eric Mackay is a lyrist with a singing faculty and a novel metrical form such as few lyrists have at command. With the very striking poem of 'Mary Arden,' we have at last something new said of Shakespeare, and it is said sweetly and imaginatively."—E. C. STEDMAN, in "Victorian Poets," 21st Edition, 1893.

Transcriber's Note:

Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note, whilst significant amendments have been listed below.

P. 10, 'ecstacies' amended to ecstasies.

P. 19, 'langours' amended to languors.


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