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Babes of the Empire: An Alphabet for Young England

Thomas Stevens

LONDON:

WILLIAM HEINEMANN

1902

    Babes of the Empire where sun never sets,

        Yours is the manfullest banner unfurled!

    Yours is the proudest of all alphabets,

        Babes of an Empire as wide as the world!

    Follow the sun from the east to the west:

        Follow the birds from the north to the south;

    Peace be the law where your faith is confessed,

        Love be the gospel that lives in your mouth.

    Babes of Great Britain from sea unto sea,

        Happy the land where your monarch has sway!

    King of contentment, and Lord of the Free,

        Yours be an Empire that fades not away!

TO

PRUDENCE BOURCHIER

    A's an Australian, born in the bush,

        An A.1. ally, when it comes to a push;

        He can ride, he can shoot; and his gun and his horse

    Are the flower of our Empire's irregular force.


    B is a baby once known as a Boer.

        He was troublesome then, but all troubles are o'er:

        Now his trekking and wrecking and fighting are done.

    Britain welcomes in peace her recalcitrant son!


    C's a Canadian, hardy and bold;

        A warm-hearted baby who laughs at the cold.

        And the fields of his harvest, so golden and free,

    Find food for the Empire from sea unto sea.

 

    D is a Dervish from sunny Soudan;

        He dances no more his eccentric can-can,

        But, trained to our manners, is eagerly fain,

    When Britain once calls him, to dance in her train.


    E is an English babe, ready to take

        The yoke of the world for humanity's sake,

        So that every one knows, be it dreary or bright,

    When it's England that leads him, the road must be right.

  

    F's a Fijian, her hair like a mop;

        Let others spin yarns, _she_ can spin like a top!

        Now she's winning her way to a place in our nation

    By skipping from frenzy to civilization.

 

    G is a Gurkha--a big little man--

        With a lion-heart under his covering of tan.

        He's fond of his kukri, his gun, and his rice,

    If the Empire requires him, it needn't call twice.

 

    H is Hong-Kong, with a pig-tail yards long:

        (They always wear pig-tails in distant Hong-Kong!)

        Though he laughs, he's not laughed at; he's old and 

yet new;

    There'll be no "Yellow Peril" while he is True Blue!


    I is an Irish babe--sweet little Pat--

        With shillelagh and shamrock to stick in his hat.

        He has fought in his time; now no truer friend's 

seen:

    We can wear our own colours while he wears the green.

 

    J is a Jew with a ringleted head,

        Who's up and about while the rest are in bed.

        He's first on the steamer to sell you his wares,

    And he'll never be missed but at dinner and prayers!


    K is a sweet little, neat little Khan,

        Who lives in a country called Beluchistan;

        His head sports a turban, which looks a bit vain,

    But it covers a thoroughly competent brain.


    L is from Labrador--wee Esquimaux--

        Who lives in an ice-house all covered with snow;

        She has sealskin for jackets, with nothing to pay,

    And is pleased with a land where's it night in the day!

 

    M's a Masai baby, fierce, dark, and strong--

        Who steals neighbours' cattle and thinks it no 

wrong!

        That's in East Africa, where they appear

    To have manners and customs quite different from here.


    N's a New Zealander,--Maori child,--

        Who hides in the bush, which is lonely and wild.

        His life's like a gipsy's; he lives upon snails!

    But he danced like a prince for the Princess of Wales!


    O is an Orange River Colony coon,

        Who dances and sings by the light of the moon.

        She's a Kaffir by birth, but our language she 

knows,

    And she always gets blacker the bigger she grows!

 

    P is a Parsee babe, born in Bombay,

        Who is sure to be wealthy as Crœsus some day.

        For these cute little Parsees our merchants admire,

    And so copy their fashions, make coin, and retire.

 

    Q comes from Queensland, the land of the Queen,

        The cleverest riders that ever were seen!

        With a whip and a gun and a swinging lassoo

    They're as swift as the wind to the swift Kangaroo.


    R is a Rajput, who's haughty and proud,

        And turns up his nose at the ignorant crowd:

        The horse that he rides is as proud as his master--

    He will curvet and prance, but he won't gallop faster!

 

    S comes from Scotland, the land of the cake.

        He's a braw little laddie a soldier to make.

        And the sound of his bagpipes will draw us all forth,

    When he comes marching south to the "Cock of the North."


    T's a Tasmanian. The land where she dwells

        Is as full of ripe fruit as the sea's full of shells.

        It was once a dark prison, but now it's all free,

    And sends England sweet cargoes from over the sea.


    U's from Uganda, all woolly and black;

        His clothes are a belt round a shirt on his back.

        Now he's got a new railway from shore unto shore,

    And the lions skulk off when the red engines roar!


    V's a Victorian! That's a good name!

        Preserving our honoured Victoria's fame.

        And the land's like her memory, so I've been told,

    With its jewels for setting, and heart of pure gold!

  

    W's a Welsh babe. Don't look at her hat!

        Though it's shaped like a witch's, she's nothing of that!

        She trips off to market, too keen to be late,

    And she sings once a year at a strange sort of fête!


    X is an extra babe; just what we need

        To complete our strong Empire in will and in deed!

        And we hope every year, as the centuries fade,

    More xcellent xtras will come to our aid.


    Y is a Yukon,--a wee red papoose,

        In a snug blanket-coat, and smart moccasin shoes.

        He's a creature of summer, without any doubt,

    For in winter it's always too cold to go out.


    Z is a Zulu, with fierce assagai:

        Do you think he could hurt you? I'd rather not try!

        But he won't, if he _could_, for our battles are o'er,

    And now we're all friends--Briton, Zulu, and Boer!


    Babes of the Empire, from A down to Z,

    Peace be the law where your banner's unfurled!

    Happy of heart and contented of head--

    Babes of the Empire that governs the world!


THE END

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