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H M S Foudroyant
a poem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

H.M.S. FOUDROYANT
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Who says the Nation's purse is lean, 
Who fears for claim or bond or debt, 
When all the glories that have been 
Are scheduled as a cash asset? 
If times are bleak and trade is slack, 
If coal and cotton fail at last, 
We've something left to barter yet
Our glorious past. 

There's many a crypt in which lies hid 
The dust of statesman or of king; 
There's Shakespeare's home to raise a bid, 
And Milton's house its price would bring. 
What for the sword that Cromwell drew? 
What for Prince Edward's coat of mail? 
What for our Saxon Alfred's tomb? 
They're all for sale! 

And stone and marble may be sold 
Which serve no present daily need; 
There's Edward's Windsor, labelled old, 
And Wolsey's palace, guaranteed. 
St. Clement Danes and fifty fanes, 
The Tower and the Temple grounds; 
How much for these? Just price them, please, 
In British pounds. 

You hucksters, have you still to learn, 
The things which money will not buy? 
Can you not read that, cold and stern 
As we may be, there still does lie 
Deep in our hearts a hungry love 
For what concerns our island story? 
We sell our work perchance our lives, 
But not our glory. 

Go barter to the knacker's yard 
The steed that has outlived its time! 
Send hungry to the pauper ward 
The man who served you in his prime! 
But when you touch the Nation's store, 
Be broad your mind and tight your grip. 
Take heed! And bring us back once more 
Our Nelson's ship. 

And if no mooring can be found 
In all our harbours near or far, 
Then tow the old three-decker round 
To where the deep-sea soundings are; 
There, with her pennon flying clear, 
And with her ensign lashed peak high, 
Sink her a thousand fathoms sheer. 
There let her lie! 

 

 
H M S Foudroyant
a poem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 

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