England, My England

England, My England

By William Ernest Henley

WHAT have I done for you,
England, my England?
What is there I would not do,
England, my own?
With your glorious eyes austere,
As the Lord were walking near,
Whispering terrible things and dear
As the Song on your bugles blown,
England—
Round the world on your bugles blown!

Where shall the watchful sun,
England, my England,
Match the master-work you’ve done,
England, my own?
When shall he rejoice agen
Such a breed of mighty men
As come forward, one to ten,
To the Song on your bugles blown,
England—
Down the years on your bugles blown?

Ever the faith endures,
England, my England:—
‘Take and break us: we are yours,
England, my own!
Life is good, and joy runs high
Between English earth and sky:
Death is death; but we shall die
To the Song on your bugles blown,
England—
To the stars on your bugles blown!’

They call you proud and hard,
England, my England:
You with worlds to watch and ward,
England, my own!
You whose mail’d hand keeps the keys
Of such teeming destinies,
You could know nor dread nor ease
Were the Song on your bugles blown,
England,
Round the Pit on your bugles blown!

Mother of Ships whose might,
England, my England,
Is the fierce old Sea’s delight,
England, my own,
Chosen daughter of the Lord,
Spouse-in-Chief of the ancient Sword,
There ‘s the menace of the Word
In the Song on your bugles blown,
England—
Out of heaven on your bugles blown!

Summary of England, My England

  • Popularity of “England, My England”: “England, My England” is a heart-touching literary piece of William Ernest Henley, a notable British poet, writer, and critic.The poem encompasses the speaker’s infinite love for his country, England. It illustrates how his country has won victory and fame after beating the hurdles coming its way. Although this poem is the finest example of love one can express for their dear homeland, the use of powerful words and the way the speaker exhibits the victorious face of England make this work matchless.
  • “England, My England” As a Representative of Pride: The poem begins where the speaker directly addresses his country and sings in its praise. He recalls the good and the bad times his country faced in the past, and also comments on how it has survived through thick and thin. He also accounts for the sacrifices people made to make their country worth living. The speaker believes that his country played a pivotal role in shaping and reshaping people’s lives, therefore, he suggests that his country has the right that the same people should work for it during trying times. He adds that death will surely take our bodies, but those who sacrifice their lives for the sake of their dear land deserve to live a good life. Today, people are proud of England that it has endured a lot in the past. The songs that blow on its bugles expresses the hard work committed for its greatness. Toward the end of the poem, the speaker compares his land with the mother of ships and a chosen daughter of God to reinforce the idea of how England survived during crises.
  • Major Themes in “England, My England”: Patriotism, praise and history are the major themes of the poem. Throughout the text, the speaker tries to evoke a significant image of England to make the readers visualize how his dear land emerged as a strong country. He states that the song that its bugles are blowing carry a remarkable history. People sing in its praise for the current proud and tough England, yet they have no idea about the battles it has had fought to achieve the desired status. Using various literary and rhetoric devices, the speaker tries to glorify the astounding historic hindrances that enabled England to shine.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “England, My England”

literary devices are tools that allow writers to choose their words to create their unique style. William Ernest Henley, too, has employed some literary devices the analysis of which is given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “Is the fierce old Sea’s delight” and the sound of /o/ in “In the Song on your bugles blown.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /w/ in “You with worlds to watch and ward” and the sound of /r/ in “You could know nor dread nor ease.”
  3. Alliteration: It means to use consonant sounds in the initials of the words occurring in quick succession such as the sound of /m/ in “mighty men”, and of /b/ in “bugles blown.”
  4. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break”; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

Life is good, and joy runs high
Between English earth and sky:
Death is death; but we shall die
To the Song on your bugles blown.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. William has used imagery in this poem such as “You whose mail’d hand keeps the keys”, “To the stars on your bugles blown” and “Match the master-work you’ve done.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different in nature. The poet compares England with “Ancient Sword and Mother of ships” in the last stanza to enhance the intended impact of his thoughts such as “Mother of Ships whose might” and “Spouse-in-Chief of the ancient Sword.”
  3. Rhetorical Question: Rhetorical question is a question that is not asked to receive an answer; it is just posed to make the point clear. William has posed rhetorical questions at many places in the poem to put emphasize on his point such as, “Down the years on your bugles blown?” and “England, my own?”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “England, My England”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free verse poem with no strict rhyme or meter.
  2. Repetition: There is a repetition of the verse “England, my England” which has created a musical quality in the poem.
  3. Refrain: The line occurring repeatedly at some distance in a poem is called a refrain. The verse “England, my England” is, therefore, the refrain of this poem.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are five stanzas in this poem with each comprising.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are suitable to use in speeches to glorify any state, country or city.

Chosen daughter of the Lord,
Spouse-in-Chief of the ancient Sword,
There’s the menace of the Word
In the Song on your bugles blown.”