The Secret People Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


Smile at us pay us pass us but do not quite forgetA
For we are the people of England that never have spoken yetA
There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheerfullyB
There is many a free French peasant who is richer and sadder than weB
There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or so wiseC
There is hunger in our bellies there is laughter in our eyesC
You laugh at us and love us both mugs and eyes are wetA
Only you do not know us For we have not spoken yetA
The fine French kings came over in a flutter of flags and damesD
We liked their smiles and battles but we never could say their namesD
The blood ran red to Bosworth and the high French lords went downE
There was naught but a naked people under a naked crownE
And the eyes of the King's Servants turned terribly every wayF
And the gold of the King's Servants rose higher every dayF
They burnt the homes of the shaven men that had been quaint and kindG
Till there was no bed in a monk's house nor food that man could findG
The inns of God where no man paid that were the wall of the weakH
The King's Servants ate them all And still we did not speakH
And the face of the King's Servants grew greater than the KingI
He tricked them and they trapped him and stood round him in a ringI
The new grave lords closed round him that had eaten the abbey's fruitsJ
And the men of the new religion with their bibles in their bootsJ
We saw their shoulders moving to menace or discussK
And some were pure and some were vile but none took heed of usK
We saw the King as they killed him and his face was proud and paleL
And a few men talked of freedom while England talked of aleL
A war that we understood not came over the world and wokeM
Americans Frenchmen Irish but we knew not the things they spokeM
They talked about rights and nature and peace and the people's reignN
And the squires our masters bade us fight and scorned us never againO
Weak if we be for ever could none condemn us thenO
Men called us serfs and drudges men knew that we were menO
In foam and flame at Trafalgar on Albuera plainsP
We did and died like lions to keep ourselves in chainsP
We lay in living ruins firing and fearing notQ
The strange fierce face of the Frenchmen who knew for what they foughtR
And the man who seemed to be more than a man we strained against and brokeM
And we broke our own rights with him And still we never spokeM
Our patch of glory ended we never heard guns againO
But the squire seemed struck in the saddle he was foolish as if in painN
He leaned on a staggering lawyer he clutched a cringing JewS
He was stricken it may be after all he was stricken at WaterlooS
Or perhaps the shades of the shaven men whose spoil is in his houseT
Come back in shining shapes at last to spoil his last carouseU
We only know the last sad squires rode slowly towards the seaB
And a new people takes the land and still it is not weB
They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lordsV
Lords without anger or honour who dare not carry their swordsV
They fight by shuffling papers they have bright dead alien eyesC
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at fliesC
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongsW
Their doors are shut in the evening and they know no songsW
We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweetX
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the streetX
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the firstY
Our wrath come after Russia's wrath and our wrath be the worstY
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our restZ
God's scorn for all men governing It may be beer is bestZ
But we are the people of England and we have not spoken yetA
Smile at us pay us pass us But do not quite forgetA

Gilbert Keith Chesterton


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