Oh! England! Shall I miss those brimming shores
that plague the words of this songs sad refrain?
If I must depart vanquished from your door!
Leave my love! Till your white walls rise again!
What childish joy familiar sights contain
the smells of home and beauty’s native call
ancestral pride like blood runs through my veins
and all my dreams of glory seem so small,
my eyes can’t grasp the distance as they fall.
– Captain Cur
1930 Ted Hughes (British Poet Laureate)
1850 Jose de San Martin (Revolutionary and General in South America leading in Argentina, Chile and Peru for independence from Spain)
On This Day:
1950 Indonesia gains independence (from The Netherlands)
England! awake! awake! awake!
Jerusalem thy Sister calls!
Why wilt thou sleep the sleep of death
And close her from thy ancient walls?
Thy hills and valleys felt her feet
Gently upon their bosoms move:
Thy gates beheld sweet Zion’s ways:
Then was a time of joy and love.
And now the time returns again:
Our souls exult, and London’s towers
Receive the Lamb of God to dwell
In England’s green and pleasant bowers.
– William Blake
1888 TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia – diplomatic role in WW1 Middle East)
2003 Idi Amin (Dictator of Uganda and culpable for the killings of approx half a million people)
On This Day:
1960 Cyprus granted independence (from Britain)
Have a good Thursday, 16th August
Immortal Harmony! thy heavenly strain
Coeval grew with sea, and earth, and skies.—
What time from chaos’ rude primeval reign
The Almighty Fiat bade creation rise,
The angelic host around applauding stood,
And loud their golden lyres proclaim’d that all was good.—
Those sacred lays whose voice sublime
High heaven’s eternal mansions hear,
Amid the transient lapse of time
Shall never meet the human ear,
Till, torn the veil of flesh away,
Stand to the soul confess’d the realms of endless day.
Yet streams from that immortal source,
Were not to mortal sense denied,
On Israel’s race with swelling force
Unbounded rush’d the sacred tide:
Judea’s palmy groves around
Re-echo to the hallow’d sound.—
Now to the harp’s responsive strings
His plaintive hymn Jessides sings,
Now with exulting rapture glows
O’er dread Jehovah’s prostrate foes,
Isaiah now with fiercer fire
Strikes loud the bold prophetic wire,
And treads, or seems in act to tread,
O’er proud Assyria’s vanquish’d head.
While now the lay pathetic thrills
By Babel’s willow-border’d rills,
As from Judea’s captive train
The victor’s taunting voice demands the choral strain.
But hark!—what lays enchanting sound
Unroots the forest from the ground?
By the persuasive powers subdu’d
Charm’d from the prey the savage brood
Attentive listen round.—
‘Tis he, the first of Grecia’s choir,
‘Tis Orpheus strikes the living lyre!
And see Alcæus’ sterner hand
Appals pale slavery’s trembling band,
See rapid Pindar loosely flings
His fingers o’er the warbling strings,
While, as the drama’s potent art
Or melts or terrifies the heart,
More sighs arise, more sorrows flow,
As Music’s aiding hand strikes deep the shafts of woe.
Nor yet amid the wreck of time
The rapturous powers are lost:
Soft breathe her airs on every clime,
And visit every coast.—
What though Hesperia’s sunnier day
Now boast to wake the sweetest lay;
Yet sure, if ere the throbbing breast
Sweet Music’s native voice confess’d,
To the soft measures that proceed
From Caledonia’s northern reed,
No feeling bosom shall deny
The genuine claim of Melody.
Though wild caprice with frantic hand
Awhile may seize the sacred lyre,
While folly’s sons applauding stand
To hear her strike the wire:
O Albion! as thy polish’d ear
Will none but classic numbers hear,
So let thy voice propitious own
Those thrilling notes that strike the heart alone.
Whether the soft melodious lay
In simple measures flow,
Now warbling elegantly gay,
Now tuned to placid woe.
Or Harmony with choral song
Pour her impetuous stream along,
While loud the swelling strains of rapture roll,
O’ercome the captive sense, and shake the astonish’d soul.
– Henry James Pye
1945 Steve Martin (actor & comedian)
1967 Bob Anderson (British racing driver)
On This Day:
1945 Japan surrenders unconditionally to end WW2
Have a good Tuesday, 14th August
A College Exercise
O sacred Muse! thy aid impart,
To rapture wake the sounding lyre!
And kindle in my panting heart
A spark of more than mortal fire:
With votive hands the lay consign
To awful Majesty Divine,
On whom all life depends,
Whose glorious form we wondering trace
Through all the varied paths of space,
Far as our bounded sight extends.—
The search our dazzled reason leaves behind,
Exceeds all depth of thought, and mocks the human mind.
Whate’er on earth, in seas, or air,
Strikes with delight the roving eye,
Proclaims aloud the Eternal’s care,
And speaks a present Deity;—
Those who with active pinions cleave
The yielding sky, the lucid wave
In countless myriads throng,
Or through the sylvan regions stray,—
The insect offspring of a day,
The echoing forest’s vernal song,
More strongly than an angel’s voice declare,
Where-e’er we turn our eyes, the God of Life is there.
Now beyond earth’s contracted goal
On Contemplation’s wings arise,
And mark the unnumber’d worlds that roll
Their orbs stupendous through the skies.—
My eye the splendid scene explores,
And now my active fancy soars;
To other suns, which far away
On distant systems pour the blaze of day,
Beyond where Saturn wheels his tedious flight
Around our chearing source of light.—
Forward in vain my restless thoughts I send,
They rush for ever on nor find an end,
On every side still open lie
The boundless fields of vast immensity.—
Could then my voice celestial numbers sing,
My hands strike rapture from the lyric string,
Yet would my heart those numbers deem
Unequal to the glorious theme;
Unequal to exalt his holy name,
Whose awful presence guides the amazing frame;
Who, of all nature’s wide extent the soul,
Exists in every part, and animates the whole.
– Henry James Pye