James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

January 26


By Bertram Tennyson

  • General Gordon’s is one of the most striking of modern personalities. After a brilliant career in China he went to Egypt, where he was made Governor of the Equatorial Provinces and of the Soudan under the Khedive, by whom he was also made Pasha. He was besieged by the Mahdi in Khartoum and killed in the storming of the city, Jan. 26, 1885.

  • SON of the Brittannia’s isle,

    There by the storied Nile,

    The dust has claimed him ere his work was done:

    But not for that alone

    Has Fame’s clear trumpet blown

    Most mournful music o’er her bravest son.

    Alas! for England, when the dead

    Fell by a coward’s hand her honor fled!

    No English squadron broke

    Through the thick battle smoke,

    At that last hour when the hero fell;

    He hoped to see again

    (But ah that hope was vain)

    Those English colors he had served so well;

    He fell, forsaken, undismayed,

    True to the land that thus his trust betrayed.

    His was the hardest part,

    That tries the staunchest heart;

    Better the headlong charge when hundreds die,

    Than the relentless foe

    Watching to strike the blow,

    And the slow waiting while the bullets fly—

    No friends, no hope, but, like a star,

    High duty shining through the clouds of war.

    No stately Gothic fane

    Roofs in the hero slain,

    But the wide sky above the desert sands;

    No graven stone shall tell

    Where at the last he fell,

    And, if interred at all, by alien hands,—

    Thrust in a shallow grave to wait

    The last loud summons to the fallen great.

    No more can England boast

    Her name from coast to coast

    Shall be a passport to her wandering sons;

    Once they could freely roam,

    As in their Island home,

    Safe far abroad as underneath her guns;

    Or, should mishap for vengeance call,

    Swift would her anger on the oppressor fall.

    But let the meed of blame

    Fall with its weight of shame

    On those who lacked the courage to command;

    The heart of England beats

    In London’s thronging streets,

    And in the quiet places of the land.

    Still to its old traditions true,

    In spite of all our rulers failed to do.