The mighty stars of Heaven come forth,
From the halls of night, in their ancient range!
But I, alone in the stedfast north,
In moveless splendour, which knoweth no change,
For ever, through polar skies shine down
As the pilot's lode star, to warn and save,
With my lonely beacon beam on high,
Whilst he compassless sails the wild sea wave!
When the awful glory of God shines forth,
In the mystic change of the deep midnight,
With rapturous awe I watch from the north
His Angel legions, and seraphs of light,
As they bear His message from star to star
'Midst the answering praise of their lightning race,
As shining in wondrous splendor afar,
They gleam in His glory-through farthest space,
And I changeless glow on the endless snow,
Which shrouds with its mantle of death the land,
Which hath slept whilst the ages come and go,
And where never a mortal foot may stand!
Where through the clear black purple night,
With never a dawn for a hundred days,
It's desolute loneliness to light --
The pinnacled iceberg grows always
With cold blue bastion and crystal tower,
Where silence and solitude frozen sleep
With its vast bulk wreathed in the slow snow shower,
And floating a hundred fathoms deep!
I saw Sidonias' fleets of old
Set sail as the silver morning star
Grew pale in the roseate glow of gold,
Which flushed through the eastern heavens afar,
And watched them creep through the "pillared gate"
And fearless steer for the northern isle,
With faith in me, as their star of fate,
And trustful led by my moveless smile,
O'er the trackless sea, through the deepest night,
'Midst the wind's and the water's wildest stress,
'Till they saw the cliffs loom greyly white
Of the faerie land of Lyonnesse!
In many a lone and fathomless fiord,
I watched the "Raven's" fierce wings unfurl'd,
Whilst the Norsemen chanted the "Song of the Sword"
And sailed for the south to ravage the world!
And the tawny Lion as fiercely bold
(His flag flung forth to the northern breeze)
I have watched, as his lone ship staggering roll'd
'Midst the grinding ice of the polar seas!
Whilst each heart of oak with frost-bound beard,
And the dauntless will of a stedfast soul,
With resolute smile and a strong hand steer'd
Through the freezing wrack, for the frozen pole!
Lo! where she reigns, on her island throne!
Britannia! Queen of the seas of the world!
With her sceptre stretching from zone to zone,
And the wings of her wandering fleets unfurled
To zephyr and tempest-in every clime,
With a sturdy steadiness never dismay'd
Through a thousand glorious years of time,
The fiercest in battle, and foremast in trade!
For the charter to rule the strong sea tide
Is the power to seize, and the strength to hold -
The courage to dare! - and the brain to guide!
The resolute will that is prompt and bold! --
And never the sceptre shall pass away
From the island sons of the old Vikings,
Whilst valour and justice and mercy sway
The heart and the hand, which fearless flings
The banner of freedom to the breeze,
And sails with its flowing cross unfurled
With a navy which whitens the loneliest sea,
And the open oceans of all the world!
First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 4 November 1876