They girt their loins up and they trod
The path of danger, rough and high;
For Action, Action was their god,
"Be up and doing" was their cry.
A thousand years have passed away;
The sands of life are running low;
The world is sleeping out her day;
The day is dying--be it so.
A thousand years have passed amain;
The sands of life are running thin;
Thought is our leader--Thought is vain;
Speech is our goddess--Speech is sin.
It needs no thought to understand,
No speech to tell, nor sight to see
That there has come upon our land
The curse of Inactivity.
We do not see the vital point
That 'tis the eighth, most deadly, sin
To wail, "The world is out of joint"—
And not attempt to put it in.
We see the swollen stream of crime
Flow hourly past us, thick and wide;
We gaze with interest for a time,
And pass by on the other side.
We see the tide of human sin
Rush roaring past our very door,
And scarcely one man plunges in
To drag the drowning to the shore.
We, dull and dreamy, stand and blink,
Forgetting glory, strength and pride,
Half--listless watchers on the brink,
Half--ruined victims of the tide.
We question, answer, make defence,
We sneer, we scoff, we criticize,
We wail and moan our decadence,
Enquire, investigate, surmise;
We preach and prattle, peer and pry
And fit together two and two:
We ponder, argue, shout, swear, lie--
We will not, for we cannot, DO.
Pale puny soldiers of the pen,
Absorbed in this your inky strife,
Act as of old, when men were men,
England herself and life yet life.