Owen Seaman

Pro Patria

England, in this great fight to which you go
Because, where Honour calls you, go you must,
Be glad, whatever comes, at least to know
You have your quarrel just.

Peace was your care; before the nations' bar
Her cause you pleaded and her ends you sought;
But not for her sake, being what you are,
Could you be bribed and bought.

Others may spurn the pledge of land to land,
May with the brute sword stain a gallant past;
But by the seal to which you set your hand,
Thank God, you still stand fast!

Forth, then, to front that peril of the deep
With smiling lips and in your eyes the light,
Steadfast and confident, of those who keep
Their storied scutcheon bright.

And we, whose burden is to watch and wait--
High-hearted ever, strong in faith and prayer,
We ask what offering we may consecrate,
What humble service share.

To steel our souls against the lust of ease;
To find our welfare in the common good;
To hold together, merging all degrees
In one wide brotherhood;--

To teach that he who saves himself is lost;
To bear in silence though our hearts may bleed;
To spend ourselves, and never count the cost,
For others' greater need;--

To go our quiet ways, subdued and sane;
To hush all vulgar clamour of the street;
With level calm to face alike the strain
Of triumph or defeat;--

This be our part, for so we serve you best,
So best confirm their prowess and their pride,
Your warrior sons, to whom in this high test
Our fortunes we confide.

One cannot help but think about Seaman's title "Pro Patria" in connection with Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est"; both titles come from the same line by Horace, "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori [It is sweet and proper to die for one's country]." Owen uses the reference ironically, but Seaman is quite sincere in his allusion to the line from Horace.

These two poems, set side by side, suggest much about the way in which the two generations viewed the war and the sacrifices that young men felt they were being asked to make by the older men who wielded the power and decided the diplomacy. But that is a common enough sentiment, even today: "Old men make wars that young men have to fight."