REVIEWED By Nchopereu Nelson N
SIR CECIL SPRING RICE
From the title, “I vow to thee my country”, Everyone is likely to have a clue on the subject matter of this poem; that of Patriotism. But there is more to this poem as one reads through and further.
The poem presents a fast-tracked love and admiration for the earthly nation and the heavenly kingdom where peace is the path.
Before cracking into the bones of the poem, a look at the circumstances surrounding the coming into existence of the literary product will defining to the understanding of it.
As afore-stated, It is authored by Cecil Spring Rice of Britain. He lived from 1859 to 1918. He died in office as the British Ambassador to America.
The poem was published as a hymn posthumously in 1925 by Gustav Holts in the Songs of Praise Hymnal (no.188). Before this, it was appreciated only secretly until Gustav put the words as a song.
It has been sung by the British community even as a Patriotic anthem. The poem still rings today as the creed of nation love.
It was entitled “Urbs Dei”, Meaning ‘City of God’ or ‘The Two Fatherlands’. It affirms and describes the love and loyalty a Christian owes not only to God, but the Nation in effect.
“I Vow To Thee, My Country” is written in 3 Stanzas of a sestet each ( 6-line stanzas).
Each stanza tackles a unique spot. In the first stanza the speaker pledges love and allegiance to homeland, Britain while stanza two throws more light on what it entails to live in a homeland. The last part reveals the persona’s Second homeland, Heaven.
Holistic view of the Poem/ poem analysis and thematic concerns.
Stanza one opens with “I Vow To Thee, My Country” which stages the speaker’s first pledge to his homeland. This entails wholehearted vow of love to the nation for her betterment and prosperity by the Persona. He says, “I Vow To Thee, My Country, all things above …My Love”.
He goes further to qualify and characterize his pronounced love. This is vivid in the author’s diction implored in the poem such as; “my love for you ..asks no questions…”, “…stands the test of time…” And “…makes undaunted, the sacrifice”
This stanza therefore, expresses the solemnity of the persona’s loveand his readiness to commit to his country with all his strength.
In the second stanza, he expresses an apparent dissatisfaction in the country’s ways. From there, a palpable and possible war in which the country is involved (WWI) is inferred. This is viewed by extrapolation from the choice of words such as…”swords are girded by her side…” All he hears is. “…the thunder of the guns…”. Despite the disappointing actions of the nation, the ups and the downs the personal says, ” I haste to thee my mother, a son among thy sons.
In the last stanza, the persona introduces another country of his, which he has “Heard of long ago… It is most great, most loving, doesn’t count enemies, shines always and faithful” to all ( Lines 14, 15, 17). In the country, “Heavenly Kingdom” apparently, the ways and behavioural Patterns are gentle, in absolutely all the dealings. The paths are purposed for peace “and all her paths are peace” (Line 18).
In a nutshell, Cecil in his iconic and patriotic poem fights with his pen the fight of Peace. He proclaims and propounds GENTLENESS, not war. He proclaims PEACE not ‘paybackism’.
If all ways were not gun’s ways, but ‘Peace’s, ‘ some “peacees” would not be in pieces and the world will be a better place.
By inference, we thank Cecil for this poem and encourage youths and leaders in particular to read the poem from their houses right down to the streets. Blow the trumpet of peace.