Come hither lads and hearken,
for a tale there is to tell,
Of the wonderful days a-coming, when all
shall be better than well.
And the tale shall be told of a country,
a land in the midst of the sea,
And folk shall call it England
in the days that are going to be.
There more than one in a thousand
in the days that are yet to come,
Shall have some hope of the morrow,
some joy of the ancient home.
For then, laugh not, but listen,
to this strange tale of mine,
All folk that are in England
shall be better lodged than swine.
Then a man shall work and bethink him,
and rejoice in the deeds of his hand,
Nor yet come home in the even
too faint and weary to stand.
Men in that time a-coming
shall work and have no fear
For to-morrow's lack of earning
and the hunger-wolf anear.
I tell you this for a wonder,
that no man then shall be glad
Of his fellow's fall and mishap
to snatch at the work he had.
For that which the worker winneth
shall then be his indeed,
Nor shall half be reaped for nothing
by him that sowed no seed.
O strange new wonderful justice!
But for whom shall we gather the gain?
For ourselves and for each of our fellows,
and no hand shall labour in vain.
Then all Mine and all Thine shall be Ours,
and no more shall any man crave
For riches that serve for nothing
but to fetter a friend for a slave.
And what wealth then shall be left us
when none shall gather gold
To buy his friend in the market,
and pinch and pine the sold?
Nay, what save the lovely city,
and the little house on the hill,
And the wastes and the woodland beauty,
and the happy fields we till;
And the homes of ancient stories,
the tombs of the mighty dead;
And the wise men seeking out marvels,
and the poet's teeming head;
And the painter's hand of wonder;
and the marvellous fiddle-bow,
And the banded choirs of music:
all those that do and know.
For all these shall be ours and all men's
nor shall any lack a share
Of the toil and the gain of living
in the days when the world grows fair.
Ah! such are the days that shall be!
But what are the deeds of to-day,
In the days of the years we dwell in,
that wear our lives away?
Why, then, and for what are we waiting?
There are three words to speak;
WE WILL IT, and what is the foeman
but the dream-strong wakened and weak?
O why and for what are we waiting?
while our brothers droop and die,
And on every wind of the heavens
a wasted life goes by.
How long shall they reproach us
where crowd on crowd they dwell,
Poor ghosts of the wicked city,
the gold-crushed hungry hell?
Through squalid life they laboured,
in sordid grief they died,
Those sons of a mighty mother,
those props of England's pride.
They are gone; there is none can undo it,
nor save our souls from the curse;
But many a million cometh,
and shall they be better or worse?
It is we must answer and hasten,
and open wide the door
For the rich man's hurrying terror,
and the slow-foot hope of the poor.
Yea, the voiceless wrath of the wretched,
and their unlearned discontent,
We must give it voice and wisdom
till the waiting-tide be spent.
Come, then, since all things call us,
the living and the dead,
And o'er the weltering tangle
a glimmering light is shed.
Come, then, let us cast off fooling,
and put by ease and rest,
For the Cause alone is worthy
till the good days bring the best.
Come, join in the only battle
wherein no man can fail,
Where whoso fadeth and dieth,
yet his deed shall still prevail.
Ah! come, cast off all fooling,
for this, at least, we know:
That the Dawn and the Day is coming,
and forth the Banners go.
This Project Gutenberg etext [number 3468] was produced by David Price, email firstname.lastname@example.org, from the 1896 Longmans, Green and Co. edition. GPL converted it to HTML for the Victorian Web in August 2004 and to CSS in December 2006.
Last modified 27 August 2004