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John Galsworthy

(John Galsworthy’s “Moods, Songs and Doggerels)

HOME of the free!   Protector of the weak!

Shall We and this Great Gray Ally make sand

Of all a nation’s building green, and wreak

Our Winter Will on that unhappy land?

Is all our steel of soul dissolved and flown?

Have fumes of fear encased our heart of flame?

Are we with panic so deep-rotted down

In Self that we can feel no longer shame?

To league and steal a nation’s hope of youth?

Oh, Sirs!   Is our Star merely cynical?

Is God reduced?   That we must darken truth

And break our honor with this creeping fall?

Is freedom but a word—a flaring boast?

Is Self concern horizon’s utter sum?

If so—to-day let England die, and ghost

Through all her history to come!

If, Sirs, the faith of men be force alone,

Let us ring down—the farce is nothing worth!

If life be only prayers to things of stone,

Come, death, and let us, friends, go mocking forth!

But if there’s aught in all Time’s bloody hours

Of Justice, if the herbs of pity grow—

Oh, native land, let not those only flowers

Of God be desert-strewn and withered now.

Galsworthy, John. “England and Persia.” The Fatherland 1, no. 14 (November 11, 1914): 7.

Galsworthy, John. “England and Persia.” The Fatherland 1, no. 14 (November 11, 1914): 7.


Moods, Songs and Doggerels

John Galsworthy (1867–1933), a British novelist and playwright, received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1932. This poem was published in 1912 as “Persia-Moritura” in the volume Moods, Songs, and Doggerels. He addressed his “moral confusion” over World War I by donating his American earnings to relief efforts and working for several months in a French hospital for wounded soldiers.

Harvey, Geoffrey. “Galsworthy, John (1867–1933), novelist and playwright.” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. September 23, 2004. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-33314.

Galsworthy, John. “Persia–Moritura.” In Moods, Songs, and Doggerels, 56–57. New York: Scribner, 1912. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/hvd.hc2qvv.


a nation’s building

At the outbreak of the war, Iranians were in a position to establish an independent government, but the global conflict and shift of industry, armies, and naval units from coal to oil undermined the planned reforms. Its vast oil reserves and geographic location “turned Iran into one of the major theaters of war in west Asia.” Russia had occupied the northern province of Iran (Azerbaijan) in 1911 and British troops were in southern Iran, which prompted the Ottomans to invade western and north-western Iran early in the war. Iran’s government declared neutrality on November 1, 1914.

Atabaki, Touraj. “Persia/Iran.” In 1914–1918–online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, edited by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson. Freie Universität Berlin, 2014–. Article published May 2, 2016. https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/persiairan.

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