The Secret Key and Other Verses

The Lion’s Whelps

19th December, 1899.

George Essex Evans

            THERE is scarlet on his forehead,
            There are scars across his face,
’Tis the bloody dew of battle dripping down, dripping down,
            But the war-heart of the Lion
            Turns to iron in its place
When he halts to face disaster, when he turns to meet disgrace,
Stung and keen and mettled with the life-blood of his own.
            Let the hunters ’ware who flout him,
            When he calls his whelps about him,
When he sets the goal before him and he settles to the pace.

            Tricked and wounded! Are we beaten
            Though they hold our strength at play?
We have faced these things aforetimes, long ago, long ago.
            From sunlit Sydney Harbour
            And ten thousand miles away,
From the far Canadian forests to the Sounds of Milford Bay,
They have answered, they have answered, and we know the answer now.
            From the Britains such as these
            Strewn across the world-wide seas
Comes the rally and the bugle-note that makes us one to-day.

            Beaten! Let them come against us.
            We can meet them one and all.
We have faced the World aforetimes, not in vain, not in vain.
            Twice ten thousand hearths be widowed,
            Twice ten thousand hearts may fall,
But a million voices answer: “We are ready for the call;
And the sword we draw for Justice shall not see its sheath again,
            Nor our cannon cease to thunder
            Till we break their strength asunder,
And the Lion’s whelps are round him and the Old Flag over all.”

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