Written for the Albert Hall, British Legion Memorial
Gathering, 10 November 1945
For the Naval episode done by Whale Island
FAREWELL white ensign, battle-scarred and torn,
We know at last the magic of your spell,
Cast upon all true men whose eyes are cleansed
By salt-sprayed winds that blow where e'er they list
To blazon, so that all the world may see
The crosses of our sponsors and their creed.
St. George, St. Andrew and St. Patrick, they
Whose challenge is to follow in their steps,
Spreading the spirit of the Word by deeds,
In stainless armour, faithful to the end.
Farewell white ensign, yet you still may wield
A magic far more potent than we knew,
Compelling men to ponder upon those
Who cannot tear the ensign from their hearts
And face their daily tasks with a strange power,
Their ensign's gift, and called, among themselves,
The Spirit of the Service, which sustains
Their burdens for them, and perceiving which,
Come others, craving too its fellowship.
Sea salt is good, see that its savour lives,
Till the whole crew of the great Ship of State
An Island Race, knit in sea brotherhood,
Have learned the ensign's secret, and thereby
Have won the right to fly it and to pass
Into the New World's haven of their dreams,
There to be glad because they are at rest.