11 MAY 1901, Page 16



WITH clarion call of warning it roused the laggard morning : Its stormy greeting rent the mists in twain,

As down the glimmering river, with its silver stream a-quiver, The mighty ships stood outward to the main.

And above the battery lifted, where the cannon smoke had drifted, A cloudy pillar shook against the sun, While in measured tones and solemn, from the core of that pale column, " Good-bye ! and God be with you!" roared the gun, "Fare well on your far faring ! " boomed the gun.

Beside that burly Titan I had watched the grey dawn brighten And golden billows flood the flaming sky : And by that vigil wearied, long hours that trailed and tarried, My jaded heart made petulant reply : "For all your sounding clangour, your show of empty anger, What part have you, whose fighting days are done, What portion or possession in all that fair procession P" I cried in scornful challenge to the gun :

In mocking, scornful challenge to the gun.

Then be to me defiant, like some easy-tempered giant Too cool and strong for pettier souls to fret : "Discarded and disrated, of a type and form outdated, Past work I am, but not past service yet.

Though guns of heavier metal resound in England's battle ; Still, still my lips proclaim her triumphs won: Still greet her stately daughters as they pass on yonder waters, And hail their flags returning ! " said the gun : "The stately ships returning !" said the gun.

"And you, securely jesting at the worn-out mastiff resting Before the gate my watchful brothers keep ; Were you as true a servant, of your master's will observant, The foe had never stolen on your sleep.

For you the kind Creator gave a harder task and greater, A knightly sword, that noble deeds had done; But you faltered and mistrusted, till the idle sabre rusted In the never empty scabbard ; " said the gun: "Cold heart and coward spirit ! " growled the gun.

The day grew broad and splendid as the grim old pedant ended: A royal day, for some great victory made.

And I left that ancient warder with his brethren all in order Along the heights in sombre menace laid.

Abd as down the glittering river, with its burnished waves a-quiver, The stately ships spread seaward one by one ; Like a mighty host retreating, colours high and tambours beating, Far down those shining reaches rang the gun :

The fading, far-off thunder of the gun.