Non Angli Sed Angeli
O children , playing down the lanes,
In England's favour'd clime,
Where cross-crown'd churches stud the plains,
And bells on Sundays chime.
Where small feet wander as they list,
And man to man is dear,
And high and low keep holy tryst
Through all the Christian Year.
Doth even in your memories live
The time whereof we read,
When Saxon did to Britain give
Their valour and their creed?
Or came it ever to your thought,
When England's need was sore,
How her own blue-eyed children brought
Salvation to her shore?
When unto childish grace was given
To wake a soft surprise,
And not in vain the blue of Heaven
Shone liquid from their eyes,—
How haply where calm rivers glide
Thro' greenly wooded lands,
Or east or westward where the tide
Runs up the thirsty sands.
A Saxon Mother's shrieks have rung,
Blue-vein'd and wild and fair,
A she-wolf raving for her young,
Around her empty lair.
Telling her strong woe-stricken Chief,
“They came across the sea,
In their beak'd ships, and O my grief!
They tore my boys from me!”
How they the while by Tiber's flood,
With blue wide-open eye,
In Rome's slave-market wondering stood,
And saw the knights go by.
And saw the fair Patricians pass,
Gold fillets in their hair,
But never one that cried, “Alas!
To sell two things so rare.”
How marvelling much and fearing much,
Half terror, half amaze,
They felt the Christian Prelate's touch,
And met his pitying gaze.
Gently his hand was o'er them bent,
Sweetly his shrift was given,
“Not Anglians then, but Angels sent
To win their isle to heaven.”
And when the great Augustine came
To evangelize our race,
With lifted cross and words of flame,
And deeds of love and grace,
The Mother saw her sons again,
White-robed and book in palm,
Come chanting down their native glen,
So rich, so sweet a Psalm.
That she, still following that sweet sound
Of hope and peace, went up,
And, with her sons, a Saviour found,
And drank salvation's cup.
Thus all the isle to light awoke,
From Odin's thraldom freed,
And took the gentle Christian yoke,
And learn'd the Christian Creed.
As some wild flower by hill or wave,
God's presence bids us feel,
So the child's beauty in the slave
Could rouse the Patriarch's zeal.
And thus it was our sires were taught
God's truth and Christ's dear lore,
And England's blue-eyed children brought
His message to our shore.
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