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THE OLD ISSUE
October 9, 1899
ERE is nothing new nor aught unproven,' say the Trumpets,
'Many feet have worn it and the road is old indeed.
It is the King-the King we schooled aforetime!' (Trumpets in the marshes-in the eyot at Runnymede!)
'Here is neither haste, nor hate, nor anger,' peal the Trumpets,
'Pardon for his penitence or pity for his fall.
It is the King!'-inexorable Trumpets
(Trumpets round the scaffold at the dawning by Whitehall!)
'He hath veiled the crown and hid the sceptre,' warn the Trumpets,
'He hath changed the fashion of the lies that cloak his will.
Hard die the Kings-ah hard-dooms hard!' declare the Trumpets,
Trumpets at the gang-plank where the brawling troopdecks fill!
THE OLD ISSUE
Ancient and Unteachable, abide-abide the Trumpets! Once again the Trumpets, for the shuddering groundswell brings
Clamour over ocean of the harsh pursuing TrumpetsTrumpets of the Vanguard that have sworn no truce with Kings!
All we have of freedom, all we use or know-
Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we drawLeave to live by no man's leave, underneath the Law.
Lance and torch and tumult, steel and gray-goose wing Wrenched it, inch and ell and all, slowly from the King.
Till our fathers 'stablished, after bloody years,
So they bought us freedom-not at little costWherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost.
Over all things certain, this is sure indeed,
Give no ear to bondsmen bidding us endure,
Whining 'He is weak and far'; crying 'Time shall cure.'
(Time himself is witness, till the battle joins, Deeper strikes the rottenness in the people's loins.)
Give no heed to bondsmen masking war with peace.
They that beg us barter-wait his yielding moodPledge the years we hold in trust-pawn our brother's blood
Howso' great their clamour, whatsoe'er their claim,
Here is naught unproven-here is naught to learn.
He shall mark our goings, question whence we came, Set his guards about us, as in Freedom's name.
He shall take a tribute, toll of all our ware;
He shall change our gold for arms-arms we may not bear.
He shall break his Judges if they cross his word;
He shall peep and mutter; and the night shall bring Watchers 'neath our window, lest we mock the King—
Hate and all division; hosts of hurrying spies;
Strangers of his council, hirelings of his pay,
We shall drink dishonour, we shall eat abuse
We shall take our station, dirt beneath his feet,
THE OLD ISSUE
Cruel in the shadow, crafty in the sun,
Sloven, sullen, savage, secret, uncontrolled-
Long-forgotten bondage, dwarfing heart and brainAll our fathers died to loose he shall bind again.
Here is naught at venture, random nor untrue—
Here is naught unproven, here is nothing hid:
Step for step and word for word-so the old Kings did!
Step by step and word by word: who is ruled may read. Suffer not the old Kings-for we know the breed
All the right they promise-all the wrong they bring. Stewards of the Judgment, suffer not this King!
BRIDGE-GUARD IN THE KARROO
'and will supply details to guard the Blood River Bridge.' District Orders-Lines of Communication.
UDDEN the desert changes, .
The raw glare softens and clings,
Ramparts of slaughter and peril-
Royal the pageant closes,
Lit by the last of the sun
Opal and ash-of-roses,
Cinnamon, umber, and dun.
The twilight swallows the thicket,