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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Frederick George Scott b. 1861


THEY were islanders, our fathers were,

And they watched the encircling seas,

And their hearts drank in the ceaseless stir,

And the freedom of the breeze;

Till they chafed at their narrow bounds

And longed for the sweep of the main,

And they fretted and fumed like hounds

Held in within sight of the plain,

And the play

And the prey.

So they built them ships of wood, and sailed

To many an unknown coast;

They braved the storm and battles hailed,

And danger they loved most;

Till the tiny ships of wood

Grew powerful on the globe,

And the new-found lands for good

They wrapped in a wondrous robe

Of bold design,

Our brave ensign.

And islanders yet in a way are we,

Our knowledge is still confined,

And we hear the roar of encircling sea,

To be crossed in the ship of the mind;

And we dream of lands afar,

Unknown, unconquered yet,

And we chafe at the bounds there are,

And our spirits fume and fret

For the prize

Of the wise.

But we ’ll never do aught, I know, unless

We are brave as our sires of old,

And face like them the bitterness

Of the battle and storm and cold;

Unless we boldly stand,

When men would hold us back,

With the helm-board in our hand,

And our eyes to the shining track

Of what may be

Beyond the sea.

There are rocks out there in that wide, wide sea,

’Neath many a darkling stream,

And souls that once sailed out bold and free

Have been carried away in a dream;

For they never came back again—

On the deep the ships were lost;

But in spite of the danger and pain,

The ocean has still to be crossed,

And only they do

Who are brave and true.