The Reckoning

By Theodore Goodridge Roberts

YE who reckon with England–
Ye who sweep the seas
Of the flag that Rodney nailed aloft
And Nelson flung to the breeze–
Count well your ships and your men,
Count well your horse and your guns,
For they who reckon with England
Must reckon with England’s sons.

Ye who would challenge England–
Ye who would break the might
Of the little isle in the foggy sea
And the lion-heart in the fight–
Count well your horse and your swords,
Weigh well your valour and guns,
For they who would ride against England
Must sabre her million sons.

Ye who would roll to warfare
Your hordes of peasants and slaves,
To crush the pride of an empire
And sink her fame in the waves–
Test well your blood and your mettle,
Count well your troops and your guns,
For they who battle with England
Must war with a Mother’s sons.

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I waited with baited breath to see what tune the authorities had chosen for us when England won their first gold. To my horror it was the anthem of imperialism, Land of Hope and Glory.

— Charlie Whelan, Evening Standard

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