WT completed this hymn of praise to England just two days before he died, and it appeared posthumously later the same year in the magazine ‘This England’.
What do I think of England whose shores are sometimes seen
Upon the far horizon from my own island home?
Those shores that loom in grandeur where Cumbria’s serried screen
Rises from out the Irish Sea, a sign of rain to come?
I sit and gaze in wonder at hills I know so well
And long to span as a gull may the waves that lie between,
To visit Skiddaw, Gable, Helvelyn, supreme Scafell,
The Pikes and Dollywagon, and the Old Man, once again.
What do I know of England from visits few and rare?
For most of it I shall not see this side of heaven’s gate.
And yet I dream of Oxford, the Cotswold hamlets fair,
And memory leads me Dove-wards, I wander Malvern late.
I know the lanes of Devon, and Dorset’s rugged coast;
The Isles of Scilly glimmer in sunset’s rosy air.
And ‘mid the cherry blossom Ely’s tower floats like a ghost
Over the plains of springtime, for I was a student there.
What do I feel for England, for I was born and bred
In Mona’s little island, of Norse and Celtic blood?
She is to me a mother, whose bounty has me fed,
And from the Tweed to Thames, and Tamar, she is good.
And Northern towns like Bolton, and Southern ones like Wells
All equally their treasures before my eyes have spread;
While London with her Abbey, all her bridges, and her bells
Will forever haunt my senses till the day that I am dead.
What shall I sing for England, so dowered with wealth of song?
She has no need for my small voice to join her awesome choir.
Her Stratford swan, her Miltons, her Wordsworths are a throng
Of choristers that far transcend the music of my lyre.
Yet will I sing my meed of praise e’en if it goes unheard
And count it as an honour to that chorus to belong;
To be as little noticed as many a hedgerow bird
That sings from dawn to dusk for the life that makes him strong.
What do I hope for England oft torn by foolish greed,
I who am but a foster son, with nearer loyalties?
My hopes are shared by many a Celt, that she may know a creed
Increasing yet in purpose, and in richer argosies.
That she in all that matters most may lead this weary earth,
Restore to it a peace to last, and be from trouble freed,
Secure beneath a monarchy that owes to God its worth,
A place to which Christ’s Kingdom may come to rest indeed.
17th June 1977.