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Short poem

James Thomson (1700-1748)

Rule Britannia

              1  When Britain first, at Heaven's command,
              2    Arose from out the azure main;
              3This was the charter of the land,
              4    And guardian angels sung this strain:
              5      "Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
              6      Britons never will be slaves."

              7  The nations, not so blest as thee,
              8    Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall:
              9While thou shalt flourish great and free,
            10    The dread and envy of them all.
            11      "Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
            12      Britons never will be slaves."

            13  Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
            14    More dreadful, from each foreign stroke:
            15As the loud blast that tears the skies,
            16    Serves but to root thy native oak.
            17      "Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
            18      Britons never will be slaves."

            19  Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame:
            20    All their attempts to bend thee down,
            21Will but arouse thy generous flame;
            22    But work their woe, and thy renown.
            23      "Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
            24      Britons never will be slaves."

            25  To thee belongs the rural reign;
            26    Thy cities shall with commerce shine:
            27All thine shall be the subject main,
            28    And every shore it circles thine.
            29      "Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
            30      Britons never will be slaves."

            31  The Muses, still with freedom found,
            32    Shall to thy happy coast repair:
            33Blest isle! with matchless beauty crown'd,
            34    And manly hearts to guard the fair.
            35      "Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
            36      Britons never will be slaves."

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Thomas Augustine Arne, Alfred: a masque (London: A. Millar, 1740). MCC T4 A63 1740 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1740
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP 1.658.
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/8

Rhyme: ababcc

Other poems by James Thomson